Game Time: 7:00 pm EST
Records: ECU 0-2 (0-1 AAC), USF 1-2 (0-1 AAC)
Line: USF -4.5, O/U 55
Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
The Pirates travel to Tampa to face the Bulls this Saturday where both teams are coming off of blowout defeats. The Pirates are recovering from a 49-29 loss to Georgia State. The Bulls are still hurting from a 28-7 loss to #15 Cincinnati (now ranked #11). Both of these teams are looking for their first American Athletic Conference victory of the season.
Both teams are coming in on two-game losing streaks, so something has to give this week. The question is whether or not the Pirates can stop USF as they have been unable to stop anyone so far this season.
Why East Carolina Will Win
This team is one of the only defensive teams nationally giving up 50 points per game. You heard me correctly: 50 points per game and 558 total yards per game. The ECU defense cannot stop anybody at the moment.
The Pirates have yet to sack an opposing quarterback and have been unable to stop a team from scoring in the red zone. Teams are 12-12 in the red zone with nine touchdowns and three field goals. This team is not excelling and if there is zero improvement this week on defense, Coach Mike Houston and his staff will need to take the blame.
Offensively, the team needs to score and not turn the ball over. Everyone thought this would be one of the more potent offenses in the conference. Holton Ahlers cannot turn the ball over. Turnover differential has been crucial in the first two weeks. Darius Pinnix Jr. needs to take on the load and get the running game started. They have a lot of things to do for this week’s victory, but it can be done.
Why USF Will Win
The Bulls have faced a tough schedule to start the 2020 campaign. After beating The Citadel, the Bulls lost to Notre Dame and Cincinnati. A key component for the Bulls is turnovers, which is the Achilles heel for the Pirates at the moment. USF picked off five passes last week to keep them in the game. The defense will need to continue to create turnovers to help their struggling offense.
Offensively, the Bulls need to make a selection at quarterback with the squad already using four quarterbacks through three games. The QB position is very unsettled, so they need to rely on the run game to help set up the pass.
This is the best chance these quarterbacks will get this season against the Pirates defense. They need to show up this week, whoever it may b,e and a couple of short fields created by the defense will help in that.
Players to Watch
QB: Holton Ahlers
WR: Tyler Snead
LB: Xavier Smith
DB: Jireh Wilson
RB: Johnny Ford
TE: Mitchell Brinkman
LB: Antonio Grier
DB: Nick Roberts
I like the Bulls here as the Pirates just look lost on both sides of the ball. When a team’s best player is their kicker, it is not a good sign.
The Bulls will create turnovers as their defense has been elite against the pass so far this season which will limit Ahlers. The Bulls have played two top-15 teams so far, which helps build character, so they will take advantage of a bad Pirates team this weekend.
USF 34, ECU 21