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Week 12 2020 Season Preview: East Carolina Pirates vs Temple Owls

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Something has to give as both teams look to end four-game losing streaks

East Carolina v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Game Time: 12:00 pm EST

Records: ECU 1-6 (1-5 AAC), TEM 1-5 (1-5 AAC)

Line: ECU -3.5; O/U 57.5

Venue: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA

TV: ESPN+

The East Carolina Pirates (1-6) will play the penultimate game of their season when they take on the Temple Owls (1-5). Both teams are on a four-game losing streak going into this matchup, but manage to stay out of the bottom slot in the American Athletic Conference.

The Pirates and the Owls are ninth in the conference standings, with the only difference in their records being the one game that the Pirates have played outside the conference this season. The last time these teams faced off was in October of last year, where the Owls beat the Pirates 27-17.

Why ECU Will Win

Run the ball successfully. The Pirates offense has been mediocre this season where many of us thought the Pirates would be one of the top offenses this year with Holton Ahlers at the helm. In retrospect, those high expectations were potentially too high. However, the team has been successful offensively when they are balanced and the rushing attack has backs that can carry the load.

East Carolina v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Rahjai Harris, Keaton Mitchell and Darius Pinnix Jr. can all take some of the load through a running game by committee. This team is extremely dangerous if they are able to run the football.

As for the defense, stop the run. Through seven games, the Pirates rank near the bottom of the country in scoring defense (118th in FBS), total defense (116th in FBS), and rushing defense (113th in FBS). East Carolina has surrendered 39.7 points and 486.7 yards of total offense per game, including a whopping 228.9 rushing yards per contest. The lack of fire is obvious defensively and Temple is down to their fourth string QB so running the ball will be a priority for the Owls.

Why Temple Will Win

A miracle start from a young freshman. Starter Anthony Russo has missed the last three games but appeared ready to return to the field versus UCF. Russo was dealing with a shoulder injury before landing in COVID-19 protocol last week. He’s not expected to come off the COVID list until Monday, which would leave the Owls down to freshman Matt Duncan. Trad Beatty and Re-al Mitchell earned starts for the Owls in the previous two games, but both suffered injuries in the process. Beatty will not be available this week while Mitchell is out for the year. Duncan entered in the third quarter last week but did not complete a pass.

Duncan doesn’t need to be spectacular as the ECU defense will probably help him look good at times. Just avoid the critical mistakes and play smart football. Rely on the run game with Re’Mahn Davis and simple passes off of it.

As for the defense, just break serve a couple times. Both defenses are brutal so expect plenty of points. Temple’s defense has been virtually non-existent this season. They’ve yet to hold an opponent under 30 points and have given up 38.7 points per game so far this season. The Owls have given up 430.7 total yards per game and 199.2 rushing yards per contest.

If you can break serve and get to the fourth quarter in a tight game, the Owls will be playing with house money.

East Carolina v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Key Players

ECU

RB: Rahjai Harris

RB: Keaton Mitchell

DL: Chris Willis

DB: Jireh Wilson

TEM

RB: Re’Mahn Davis

WR: Jadan Blue

DE: Arnold Ebiketie

LB: William Kwenkeu

Prediction

Ahlers is coming off one of the worst games of his collegiate career but should be in a good spot to bounce back versus Temple.

Meanwhile, Temple has scored 13 points per game over its last three contests and will be down to a freshman fourth-stringer at quarterback in this one. The Pirates defense will be able to step up and this ECU passing attack will have a ton of success against this Owls secondary.

East Carolina 31, Temple 20