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Week 13: SMU vs ECU Game Preview

Mustangs look to keep AAC Championship game hopes alive while the Pirates have their season finale

East Carolina v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Game Time: 12:00 EST

Records: SMU 7-2 (4-2 AAC), ECU 2-6 (2-5 AAC)

Line: SMU -11.5; O/U 67.5

Venue: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC

TV: ESPN+

East Carolina is coming off a 28-3 victory at Temple this past weekend. The Pirates are 2-6 overall on the year and 2-5 in AAC play with wins over USF and Temple.

The Pirates will be looking to finish their season off strong as ECU have opted to not add another game on the schedule. This weekend is their senior day and an opportunity to ruin SMU’s chances of having an opportunity to play in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

Why ECU Will Win

Offensively, the Pirates will have to be explosive on offense. East Carolina has struggled to find explosiveness in their offense this season. The team needs to be creative against a vulnerable SMU defense. It’s your last game of the season so do not be afraid to throw the kitchen sink at them. Play with nothing to lose and with some pride for your seniors.

East Carolina v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Quarterback Holton Ahlers needs to be special going against one of the best QBs in the conference in Shane Buechele. He'll have to rise to the occasion because Buechele's capable of putting up eye-opening numbers at any time. Tyler Snead has come on late this season as the go-to target and use C.J. Johnson in the redzone.

Defensively, the team gives up plenty of yards and SMU has a high-octane offense. Therefore, the defense can bend but not break. It’s okay if you give up plenty of yards but once they get into the redzone, the Pirates must hold the Mustangs to field goals not touchdowns.

Why SMU Will Win

It took a brutal finish and a brilliant overall performance from Tulsa for SMU to lose a few weeks ago.

Against everyone else, the offense exploded for well over 400 yards – over 540 yards in each of the six wins over FBS teams. The offense is balanced, there aren’t a ton of mistakes, and the line is giving everyone time to work.

As good as the Mustang passing game is, the ground attack is about to be the star against an East Carolina defensive front that isn’t getting into the backfield enough and allows over five yards per carry.

The Pirates are about to allow more than 200 yards for the third time in five games.

Key Players

ECU

QB: Holton Ahlers

WR: Tyler Snead

LB: Xavier Smith

DB: Shawn Dourseau

East Carolina v SMU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

SMU

QB: Shane Buechele

RB: Ulysses Bentley IV

LB: Delano Robinson

DB: Chace Cromartie

Prediction:

Blaine: The Pirates will come out on a mission on senior day and play with plenty of energy to keep the game competitive in the first half. However, in the second half SMU will take control by breaking serve a couple times defensively and the SMU offense will start scoring in waves.

SMU 37, East Carolina 27