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Beef O Brady Bowl
The Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl features a high-flying C-USA team that was one win away from the conference title game and a mediocre MAC team that was inconsistent for much of the season. As expected, many are on East Carolina with the line still rising. It looks like the Pirates have settled as -13.5 point favorites in most places including 5 dimes and betonline.
The betting public is backing East Carolina in this spot to the tune of 79% at sportsbok.com, this according to their betting trends feature which is available to anyone with an account there.
ECU finished the season with a stout 9-3 record that included road wins at North Carolina, NC State and Middle Tennessee. They barely lost to Virginia Tech 15-10 and lost in overtime to Tulane early in October. Their most recent 59-28 loss at Marshall was disappointing, as a win there would have given them a shot at the conference title.
The only thing Ohio has going for them in this game is that they beat Marshall earlier in the season 34-31 at home. That was easily the Bobcats best win of the year, as they went 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the MAC. Everyone is on East Carolina because Ohio's resume is not all that impressive. They have lost three of their last four games with that only win coming against one-win UMass. In those three losses, they were outscored 123-16.
The Pirates have lost four straight bowl games, while the Bobcats are playing in their fifth straight bowl and have won their last two.
Plenty of points are expected in this one, more so from East Carolina as they score 40 per game. ECU can move the ball through ground and air. Quarterback Shane Carden has tossed for 3,866 yards, 32 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to go with 10 rushing TDs this season. His favorite target Justin Hardy has 105 receptions, 1,218 yards and eight TDs. On top of that, running back Vintavious Cooper has 995 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Going against a defense that had trouble stopping the upper echelon of teams in the MAC, there's no reason the Pirates can't surpass their season average of points. It's on the defensive end where they've had trouble, as seen in their recent loss to Marshall.
Ohio also boasts a solid attack, albeit one that's less consistent. Tyler Tettleton made a name for himself after starting 7-0 back in the 2012 season leading to a Top 25 ranking. His numbers haven't improved at all since his sophomore year, however, as he has just 2,623 yards, 20 TDs and nine INTs so far. Most of Tettleton's touchdowns came against the scrubs of the MAC, though. His favorite target Donte Foster (858 yards, six TDs) will be looked at often, but it will be the run game that's important to keep ECU's offense off the field. Running back Beau Blankenship has 844 yards and five TDs for the season, which is about cut in half from last year's production. Much like Tettleton, Blankenship couldn't find any room against better defenses.
If East Carolina's defense can at least show up, this game could be over in the first half as Ohio likely won't have a chance at stopping Shane Carden and company.
The Pirates are just 6-18 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, but have covered in nine straight following a straight up loss. The Bobcats are 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games and 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. the C-USA.
We can make a case for either side here. Typically, if we can make a case for either side in a Bowl game, and the line is -13, we'd end up on the dog. But in this spot, we're going to side with East Carolina as an opinion only. Confuse yet? Read on.
The Case for Ohio U - Yards per point can be a great measuring stick when comparing teams, ESPECIALLY when the teams have played a schedule close in strength, as these two have. In this game, these two have nearly identical yards per point numbers, with both having poor defensive numbers of roughly 14.5 and both having good offensive numbers, with the edge to EC at 11.3, one of the best in the land and two points better than Ohio U. Using those numbers to make a line, EC would be favored but by only a field goal.
The other argument for Ohio is to look at the one common opponent, Marshall. Ohio beat Marshall 34-31 while East Carolina was blown out by Marshal in a big game at the end of the season, 59-28. Logic would suggest that if Ohio can beat Marshall, they can stay within 13 of East Carolina.
The Case for East Carolina - They are explosive. All but one of their 9 wins this year were by double digits. Here, they get an Ohio U squad that looks ripe for a blowout, having been blown out 3 straight games down the stretch before beating lowly UMASS to end the year. A simple quick glance at the first half of the Ohio U schedule, and then the last half of the schedule, would lead one to believe that something is very wrong with this Ohio U football team. 3 straight blowout losses spells trouble and now they face an EC team that is likely every bit as good or better than the three teams that blew them out.
Our model agrees as it likes EC by anywhere from 18 to 37 points depending on the parameters used.
Our recommendation here is to lay the number with East Carolina. We're not playing the game because it simply isn't the type of game we generally play. Laying double digits in a bowl game can be tricky. But East Carolina looks like the right side. East Carolina -13.5
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