Game Time: 7:00 pm ET
Records: ECU 3-3 (0-2 AAC), UCF 4-2 (1-1 AAC)
Line: UCF -33; O/U 63
Venue: Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL
The Pirates travel down to the 2017-2018 “National Champions” in UCF on Saturday night in Orlando. Both teams in this game are coming off of much needed bye weeks. The Pirates haven’t played in over two weeks after their loss to Temple where the score was indicative of how the game actually went where they were dominated physically. Hopefully the two weeks off allowed Mike Houston to get some much-needed practice time in to get the team clicking on all cylinders.
As for UCF, the Knights are coming off their first conference loss in over two years with their AAC streak of wins ending at 19 against Cincinnati. The Knights had no business of having a chance to even win that game after committing 4 turnovers but it shows how potent their offense is.
The real question is do the Pirates have a realistic chance of winning or even covering the 33 point line?
Why East Carolina Will Win
The Pirates may need a miracle to win this one. Let’s try and look how the Cincinnati Bearcats were able to be successful against UCF. First, they won the turnover margin significantly by +3. The Pirates will have to create two or three turnovers in order to give themselves opportunities with short fields. The defense will be paramount by bending and not breaking as well. Even if UCF put up a ton of yards, it will be critical to hold them to field goals.
Offensively, the squad will need to win time of possession by shortening the game. The key take will be able to convert on third down which has been abysmal all season. So run the ball, convert third down and score touchdowns not field goals.
Why UCF Will Win
UCF will need to be efficient on offense and they are efficient when they are completing passes at a high percentage, allowing them to go as fast as possible. Then the team will be able to work in their run game. UCF is potent in space so just get the ball to their play-makers and let them do the rest.
As for the defense, they need to get pressure on the quarterback as the team has 12 sacks on the year but only had two sacks total in their last two games. The team is much more successful when they are able to create havoc in the offensive backfield.
Players to Watch
QB: Holton Ahlers
RB: Demetrius Mauney
DE: Kendall Futrell
DB: Ja’Quan McMillan
QB: Dillon Gabriel
RB: Greg McCrae
LB: Nate Evans
LB: Eric Mitchell
Honestly, this game to going to be a bloodbath for the Pirates. The Knights are going to run as many plays as possible and the Pirates’ defense will be gassed early. It’s going to be Knights early and often. The Pirates won’t stand a chance, but I do think they barely cover the spread.
UCF 49, Pirates 17