East Carolina Pirates vs. BYU Cougars (10/28 @ 8:00 PM EST)
Overview and Betting Info
Friday night holds a battle of two high-powered offenses, with East Carolina (5-3) visiting BYU (4-4). Both teams are averaging over 400 yards of offense and are allowing about the same. The Cougars enter this game desperate for bowl eligibility after a third consecutive loss last week. The Pirates have won three of their previous four, including a thorough beating of a good UCF team.
BYU has failed to cover the spread in their last six games, making them 2-6 for the season. ECU is 5-3 against the spread overall and 2-1 on the road. The Cougars have hit the over in three of their last five games. The Pirates over has only hit in two.
East Carolina Pirates
The Pirates come into Friday riding high after an impressive win against UCF. Their season has had its ups and downs, with their high-powered offense sputtering in their three losses. The good news is that they’ve won their last two, and the offense seems to now be in top form.
The Pirate’s offense is led by quarterback Holton Ahlers, who enters his fifth and final season for the Pirates. He’s been great, with almost 2500 passing yards and eighteen touchdowns. He’s surrounded by a talented receiving duo in Isaiah Winstead (808 yds, 3 TDs) and C.J. Johnson (657 yards, 8 TDs), as well as running back Keaton Mitchell (687 yds, 8 TDs). This talented set of skill players has led the Pirate’s offense to average 472 yards per game, making them more than capable of taking advantage of a weak BYU secondary.
ECU’s defense is coming in off an impressive win, but they have been giving up close to 400 yards per game. Junior safety Julius Wood leads the team in tackles (46), interceptions (2), forced fumbles (2) and has scored the team’s only defensive touchdown. He’s been a bright spot on a defense that has been up and down all season.
The defense will be getting a break against BYU this week, who will be without their top receiver and running back. If the defensive line can get pressure on Jaren Hill, they could slow BYU down enough to keep this game close.
The Cougars were at one point a top-fifteen team in the country, but defensive struggles have led them to a disappointing 4-4 record. They are amid a three-game losing streak, the worst being last week’s blowout to Liberty. Head coach Kalani Sitake announced he’ll be more involved with the defense, hoping a new voice may help turn their season around.
Despite their record, the Cougars have a top-25 passing offense. Led by junior quarterback Jaren Hall, who has 2100 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. He is their biggest weapon, but there have been questions about his health all season. These grew louder after Hall completed just 47% of his passes last week.
Healthy or not, Hall will be hindered this week by injuries to lead receiver Kody Epps and leading rusher Chris Brook. The Cougars receiving core is deep, with five players already over 200 yards and at least one touchdown, but their backfield will need some help. Look to see BYU get wide receiver Puka Nacua more carries this week, as he already has four rushing touchdowns on the year.
The Cougar’s defense has been atrocious this season, plagued by missed tackles and blown coverages. The defensive line is terrible, with just nine sacks and allowing over 200 rushing yards per game.
Their secondary is thin, with just one defensive back registering an interception on the season. The other five interceptions have come from talented linebacker duo Ben Bywater (58 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT) and Max Tooley (57 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INT). The team’s top tacklers have been the heart of this defense, but they’ll need support to keep this talented ECU offense in check.
Free Pick: East Carolina +135
BYU will improve from their poor performance last week, but it will take longer than a week to fix a defense that ranks outside the top 100. If they can’t get pressure on Holton, that secondary isn’t going to have a chance against ECU’s electric pass offense. Even if Jaren Hall is healthy-ish, he’ll be without his top rusher and pass catcher. That stadium should be electric, but we need to see the Cougars being able to hang with the Pirate’s offense for all four quarters. We’re forgoing the points to make some money with the ECU money line.