It’s been a respectable start to the season for both Temple and East Carolina. The Owls lost at Buffalo, but also took down Maryland and Georgia Tech. The Pirates don’t have quite as good of wins, but they already matched last year’s three-win mark. Temple is still on another level and opened as -13 point road favorites.
Part of the reason the spread is so high is because Temple won this matchup 49-6 last year. It was never competitive as the Owls did whatever they wanted, getting out to 35-0 first-half lead even though they finished with just 3.6 yards per carry. It was more about their defense which contained ECU to 196 total yards.
The Temple defense will likely again be what separates these teams as that’s what’s happened in its first few games, holding Maryland to 17 points and GT to two.
East Carolina’s offense may be better than a year ago, but it’s had plenty of issues against better defenses, scoring a combined 16 points against NC State and Navy.
Outside of this game being at home and under the lights, the Pirates don’t have many advantages. Quarterback Holton Ahlers is completing 54.1% of his passes for four touchdowns and five picks. While he’s second on the team with 186 rushing yards, most of that was done against smaller teams.
They’ll likely start with that approach led by running back Demetrius Mauney, but at some point Ahlers will have to throw to compete in this game and anything can happen when that’s needed.
Covering this game for Temple will depend on if ECU’s defense is any better than a year ago. It’s been hard to get a good read on them given the competition and one of the teams they lost to was Navy which runs the triple option.
Temple doesn’t have an elite offense, but it can put up points in the right situation. Even when the ground game was fairly stagnant in last year’s meeting, Anthony Russo did the rest, completing 21-of-25 passes for 10.2 yards per attempt.
So far, Russo hasn’t looked much improved this season, completing 57% of his passes for 10 touchdowns and six picks. His receivers have been good led by Jaden Blue with 27 receptions, but Russo is still having trouble in the pocket, which is why they’re averaging 3.8 yards per carry as a team.
It’s a wonder if Temple will lean a little more on running backs Re’Mahn Davis and Jager Gardner so they don’t have to worry about Russo possibly throwing an early interception and getting ECU into the game.
ECU’s new head coach Mike Houston has had a fine start to his tenure, but beating up on weaker teams doesn’t mean much unless they can win a few more AAC games than expected. That starts with this game, but the Owls have the edge in almost every area.
The over is 4-1 in Temple’s last five road games against a team with a winning home record, but the under has hit in ECU’s last five games overall. Temple has covered in the last five meetings between these teams and the under is 4-1 in those games.
Our Pick – East Carolina +12.5