Records: ECU 1-5 (1-4 AAC), Cincy 6-0 (4-0 AAC)
Game Time: 4:30pm EST
Line: Cincy -27.5; O/U 56.5
Venue: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
East Carolina has their toughest challenge of the season thus far. The Pirates travel to Ohio to take on No. 7 Cincinnati on Friday night. The Bearcats are unbeaten and none of their victories have been by less than two scores. Last week, they blew out a highly potent offense in Houston 38-10.
ECU will attempt to halt a three-game losing streak and bounce back after getting crushed by Tulane 38-21 in their last game. The Pirates are struggling on both sides of the ball and they will need a crazy turnaround this weekend for any chance.
Last season, Cincinnati edged East Carolina on the road 46-43 as a 25-point road favorite. Can the Pirates hang around or will this week be another onslaught by the Bearcats?
Why Cincy Will Win
The quest for perfection and a shot at the CFB playoff.
They have a dual-threat quarterback in Desmond Ridder, a tremendous overall rushing offense with a strong offensive line and a very good defense. They held a pretty good Houston offense to just 93 rushing yards and 189 passing yards.
Ridder is not going to win Heisman Trophy, but he is having a great season as a passer and runner. Ridder has completed 64.5% of his passes for 1,156 yards with 11 TDs and six picks. He also has 394 rushing yards with seven TDs. Expect a balanced-attack from Cincinnati as the Pirates struggle immensely against the run which creates big-play opportunities in the passing game for Ridder.
The defense ranks 12th in the nation in yards per game allowed (302.2ypc) and 36th in overall offense (441.7ypg). East Carolina prides themselves in being balanced offensively so stopping that makes the Pirates simple to defend.
Why ECU Will Win
A miracle is my best answer with the way both teams have been playing. The most significant problem is the run game on both sides of the ball. Both need substantial improvement from last week.
East Carolina couldn’t stop the run against Tulane, allowing 277 yards on 34 attempts. Meanwhile, the Pirates couldn’t run the ball (35 yards on 29 carries) and they got behind 31-7 after three quarters.
The Pirates need to avoid lapses of scoring in the game. The defense is horrid and in order for them to have a chance is to score with Cincy throughout the game. It needs to be a shootout which means Holton Ahlers needs to be special. There cannot be three to four drives of no points to have a chance. This will have to be their best offensive performance this season for a chance.
QB: Desmond Ridder
RB: Gerrid Doaks
LB: Jarell White
DB: Ahmad Gardner
QB: Holton Ahlers
WR: Tyler Snead
LB: Bruce Bivens
LB: Xavier Smith
Cincinnati can’t afford a hiccup if they are going to gain their ultimate goal and that’s getting a shot in the College Football Playoff. It’s a longshot, but the Bearcats should at least get a big bowl game. They aren’t just winning games; they are dominating teams.
East Carolina will show up and be competitive early with the help of the Bearcats looking ahead to next week’s matchup vs UCF. Their passing offense and Ahlers will make this game competitive until the Bearcats wear them down in the second half with their running game.
Cincy 38, ECU 21