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EAST CAROLINA VS BOISE ST
Let's start first by taking a look at the motivational angle in this game. Who is happy to be here? Who has more to play for? Who is just here for vacation in beautiful Hawaii?
The Boise St team took a team vote as to where they would play their Bowl game. They had the option of staying home and playing in that ridiculous Bowl game in Boise on the blue carpet......or heading to Hawaii for the 2nd time in a month. They unanimously chose to go to Hawaii. What does that tell us? It tells us the team is going on Vacation. They are going for a little R+R to end the year and perhaps a little surfing and fun in the sun as they escape the cold in Boise. How much motivation could there be to win a football game against a 7-5 team from East Carolina? After all, this is a Boise team that won 10 games and had their sites set on a bigger and better opponent for late December. A let down from last year to say the least, as their names were mentioned in the same breath as "National Title".
For East Carolina though, this is what a Bowl game is supposed to be. A reward for a job well done during the year. A trip to a warm weather climate, Hawaii of all places, and a promise for the Juniors, Sophomores and Freshman on the team that when you win, this is what you get. This East Carolina team has made strides over the last few years and they are a team on the upswing thanks to Skip Holtz. For them, 7-5 is something to celebrate and there's plenty of motivation to go out there and beat a 10-2 Boise team that not many are giving them a chance to do.
So, if there's an edge to be had from a motivational standpoint, it goes to East Carolina. But how about talent wise. After all, all the motivation in the world couldn't help a team that was drastically overmatched.
When you take a snap shot of each teams strengths and weaknesses and compare, what sticks out is that both teams have an offense and can move the ball but it's the Boise defense that stands out. They have two shutouts, two games where they gave up just 7 and three games where they gave up between 14-16 points. Those are some pretty good numbers for a team that also averages 40 points per game offensively. Only Hawaii and Nevada were able to score at will on this defense.
When we take a look at the yards per points numbers here we have EC with a 12.5 on offense and a 14.5 on defense for a +2 while Boise weighs in with an 11 on offense and 16.5 on defense for a +5.5. So an edge to Boise but not by as large of a margin as you'd expect and you also have to factor in strength of schedule. East Carolina actually played a slightly tougher schedule than Boise so you'd have to adjust that yards per point number accordingly.....also note East Carolina being +14 in the turnover department. They've got some bounces to go their way for sure.
Boise is the better team here on both sides of the ball. The question is, are they 10 points better and will they be motivated enough to give 110% in this game? We say no to both counts. East Carolina is a live dog here with more incentive to play well. They have put some big time points on the board against other Bowl teams such as Houston, Central Florida and Memphis, all wins. Skip Holtz, who has a nice 16-5 mark as a dog including 6-1 as a double digit dog, will have this team ready to play.
You may want to wait until game day to play this one as all the money is coming in on Boise so there's a good chance we'll see some movement our way.
3* EAST CAROLINA +10.5