Despite cold temperatures in Cincinnati on Thursday night, fans should be nice and warm because the scoreboard will give off enough heat to warm up everybody in attendance. A lot of points are expected in Thursday night’s American Athletic Conference contest between East Carolina and Cincinnati. The Pirates and Bearcats each possess one of the country’s top passing attacks and both teams should be excited to bask in the national spotlight on ESPN2.
East Carolina vs. Cincinnati College Football Preview
Date/Time: Thursday November 13, 7:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: East Carolina -3
Ruffin McNeill is now 35-24 straight up and 29-30 against the spread since coming over from Texas Tech to be the head coach at ECU. The Pirates enter this game 6-2 on the season with a 4-4 ATS mark. Tommy Tuberville’s long and winding coaching career has brought him to Cincinnati, where he is 14-7 straight up and 10-11 against the number. Tuberville is 60 games over .500 straight up as a FBS head coach with a 144-84 mark.
East Carolina Pirates:
Senior Bowl participants Shane Carden and Justin Hardy drive the bus offensively for the Pirates. Carden has thrown for nearly 2,800 yards with 18 touchdowns so far this season. Hardy has been on the receiving end of six of those touchdowns and has 68 catches for 814 yards. Diminutive running back Breon Allen has ripped off seven yards per carry in this dynamic offense and has seven total touchdowns. The defense is the best unit under McNeill’s watch and they have improved in each of McNeill’s five seasons. They’re allowing 23 points per game and have only given up 82 over their last four games. The Pirates are coming off of a rather stunning loss to Temple and have had extra time to prepare for this AAC matchup. The Pirates averaged 41 points per conference game last season, but have scored just 28 per conference meeting this season.
The Bearcats enter this game with some uncertainty at the quarterback position. Munchie Legaux has been the go-to guy over the last couple of games while Gunner Kiel continues to deal with bruised ribs and possibly other nagging injuries. Reports out of Cincinnati are that Legaux and Kiel will split time this week. Legaux, who came back from a horrific injury suffered last season, has completed nearly two-thirds of his 62 tosses with three touchdowns and a pick. Kiel is averaging 8.72 yards per attempt with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The offense isn’t the problem for the Bearcats. It’s the defense that is a concern. Prior to padding their stats against conference doormats SMU, USF, and Tulane, the Bearcats had allowed more than 40 points per game in their first five games this season. The Bearcats had allowed 21 points or less in each of the last three seasons, but the departure of defensive coordinator Art Kaufman for California may have played a role.
Free Pick: East Carolina
Quarterback rotations rarely work. Even though Kiel and Legaux are two very different guys, there’s not going to be a lot of continuity on the offensive side of the ball for the Bearcats. The Pirates seem to be in a better position defensively and the betting market has come in on the Pirates early in the week. Cincinnati’s recent defensive performances are a bit misleading and they face an ECU team in a prime bounce back spot.
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