A long season projects to get even longer for the UConn Huskies as a 28-point underdog against the East Carolina Pirates on Thursday night. The Huskies haven’t topped 21 points in a game yet this season, while the Pirates have put up 23 or more in each of their six games. Both teams had extra time to prepare for this game, which adds an element of intrigue because nobody knows what to expect from first-year head coach Bob Diaco. Unfortunately, Diaco doesn’t have a lot to work with, so the bag of tricks is pretty much empty.
UConn vs. East Carolina College Football Preview
Date/Time: Thursday October 23, 7:00 p.m. ET
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: East Carolina -27.5
Bob Diaco and the Huskies have yet to beat a FBS team this season. More than that, the Huskies have failed to beat the spread this season with an 0-6 mark in lined games. The Huskies offense has no bark and no bite, with five unders out of six games. Ruffin McNeill is 34-23 straight up at ECU and 29-27 against the number with this season’s 4-2 record factored in. The Huskies lost all three matchups against ranked teams by an average of 23 points per game last season.
The prognostications for the season weren’t all that exciting for UConn, but they got even worse after Casey Cochran left the program due to repeated injuries. That left Chandler Whitmer, who spent almost as much time throwing to the wrong team last season as he did to his own receivers, as the starting quarterback. The Huskies entered this season averaging less than 320 yards of offense per season over their last three seasons. This season, they’ve averaged 254 yards per game. All things considered, the defense has played well under Diaco, a former defensive coordinator. Without any semblance of an offense, the Huskies defense has dug in and only allowed 25.7 points per game. This will be the defense’s biggest test since playing Boise State in Week 3 because ECU has a lot of different ways to gain yards.
The only loss on East Carolina’s schedule is a 10-point defeat against a SEC team. Their body of work includes a 70-point outburst against North Carolina and an average margin of victory of more than 17 points per game. Shane Carden has been tremendous once again and Justin Hardy and Isaiah Jones have 89 catches for well over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. Diminutive running back Breon Allen has averaged 8.3 yards per touch and has found the end zone five times. With an offense this dynamic, the defense has a sizable margin for error, but this group has been steadily improving under McNeill. They’ve allowed 23.8 points per game, but they gave up 41 in the blowout win over North Carolina. In two conference games, the Pirates have outscored opponents 73-41 and oddsmakers and bettors alike are certainly expecting more of the same on Thursday night.
Free Pick: East Carolina -27.5
The Pirates may be stopped, but the UConn offense isn’t going to be able to stand there and trade punches with Carden and the Pirates offense. East Carolina could very well cover this number with a score of 35, which is below their season average. The Huskies are averaging nine points per game in conference play and that may even be a stretch on Thursday night.
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