As was the case with the first game of the day, FOX Sports will carry the second half of your doubleheader. Kickoff time is set for just past 4 pm ET/ 3 pm CT.
Panthers Battle Breakers in Week Eight Finale
To conclude the action this weekend, two teams will try and improve their positioning for the upcoming playoffs. Birmingham’s Protective Stadium is the host ballpark for the contest between the Michigan Panthers (3-4) and the New Orleans Breakers (4-3.)
— Michigan Panthers (@USFLPanthers) June 3, 2023
Even though this particular ballgame doesn’t have any direct bearing on the playoff picture (no team in the USFL’s South Division will be able to secure a playoff spot this week, nor will any team in the division get mathematically eliminated,) this is still a critical game. If the season were to end right now, New Orleans would just miss out on playing in week 11.
However, the current USFL playoff picture indicates that Michigan would clinch the No. 2 seed if the playoffs started at this moment. They’d play No. 1 seed Philadelphia in the North Division Championship at the end of the month if the standings hold.
Another Hot Day Expected in Birmingham
The heatwave gripping much of the United States has been relentless all week long. Unfortunately, for those fans holding tickets to Sunday’s game, it shows no signs of letting up.
Current weather forecasts for Birmingham show that high temperatures will top out at 89 degrees on Sunday with a 24 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms. A slight breeze out of the east at 7 MPH is expected.
Michigan Panthers vs. New Orleans Breakers Betting Odds
As of now, the oddsmakers have the New Orleans Breakers installed as a -3 1/2-point favorite on the spread and a -167 favorite on the money line. The Michigan Panthers counter as a +130 underdog on the money line.
Your over-under for Sunday’s late game is set at 43 1/2 points. If you plan on betting on this or any other game happening this weekend in the USFL, please wager responsibly.
Josh Love Ready to Build Off of Brilliant Performance
A year ago in the USFL, Michigan quarterback Josh Love split time between the Maulers and Panthers organizations, with his tenure in Michigan beginning a month into the season after the latter team signed him. In his first full year with the Panthers, he’s won the Twitter vote for USFL Offensive Player of the Week twice over, including last week.
— USFL (@USFL) May 29, 2023
Last Sunday, he had an awesome night, throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. It was his second consecutive game with at least 200 passing yards.
Love’s efforts in week seven were predicated by Michigan’s stout offensive line, which only allowed one sack of their quarterback all game. As long as they keep protecting Love up front, he might be able to throw for 200 yards again this week.
Look for Nacua To Thrive
Back in week seven, the Panthers were led defensively by linebacker Kai Nacua. The BYU alum has been an NFL journeyman, having been on the roster of five teams, most recently with the New York Jets last preseason.
Nacua is a more recent addition to the Panthers D-line, having been signed on May 9 ahead of being activated on May 11. He suited up for Michigan two days later versus the Maulers.
The linebacker had his biggest game of the season to-date in the win last weekend, notching eight tackles (seven solo). This is a guy who’s bounced around from team-to-team in the NFL. Can he have another decent day this time out?
Wes Hills Eager to Get Back in the End Zone
All throughout the season in the USFL, New Orleans running back Wes Hills has been a fun athlete to watch. A week ago Saturday, the Slippery Rock University product by way of Delaware rushed for 77 yards on 20 carries.
However, it was his third straight game where he didn’t have a touchdown on the ground. When you’re a halfback on a football team, being held out of the end zone is no doubt a frustrating thing.
Going three consecutive ballgames without touchdowns is another feeling entirely. Hills hasn’t seen the end zone since the weekend before Mother’s Day. You can only contain this guy for so long.
Will his scoring drought end this week?
Can Breakers Pressure Josh Love?
As previously stated, Michigan quarterback Josh Love only got sacked once last week. The Breakers’ defensive line certainly has a challenge on their hands on Sunday, as they recorded three quarterback sacks of Birmingham Stallions quarterback Alex McGough.
If you’ve followed along with our breakdowns all year long, you’ve heard us say that any time that a defensive line can create pressure to the tune of four sacks of the opposing quarterback, that team will win more often than not. Sometimes, however, this might not be the case.
Right after Josh Love snaps the ball, look for the Breakers to send the house up front. If they can blitz him regularly, New Orleans can force Love to change his gameplan.
This one is the most interesting game of the four in week eight of the USFL. Look for both teams to play their best football of the year on Sunday. Their seasons depend on it.
Prediction: Michigan 27, New Orleans 24.