Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl 2013: Ohio vs. East Carolina TV Info, Predictions and More
Don't look now, but the Ohio Bobcats of the MAC have quietly made it to five straight bowl games.
This year, they'll face the East Carolina Pirates of Conference USA in the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl.
The Bobcats finished this season a modest 7-5, while the Pirates were a somewhat impressive 9-3 in 2013.
Time: 2 p.m. EST, Dec. 23, 2013
Place: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Radio: ESPN Radio
Ohio Bobcats Keys to Victory
Attack a weak ECU pass defense
The East Carolina Pirates rank just 87th in the nation in pass defense (245.8), but Ohio has quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who at times has looked impressive this season.
The Bobcats also have two receivers with over 600 yards receiving and another with nearly 450, so the passing attack for Ohio is certainly balanced.
You rarely go wrong attacking a team's weak spot. Defensively, East Carolina's ability to stop the pass is its Achilles' heel. So expect Tettleton to air it out against the Pirates.
Don't get burned on the deep ball
Although Ohio has a decent passing attack, East Carolina has the nation's 10th-best aerial assault behind quarterback Shane Carden.
A bright spot for the Bobcats is that they rank 28th in the nation in pass defense, so Carden may run into some problems.
Nevertheless, Ohio can't afford to let the Pirates set the tone of the game with long bombs. So it absolutely cannot get beat over the top. ECU is a one-dimensional offense. So if the Bobcats maybe bend but don't break in their secondary coverage, they should have the edge.
East Carolina Keys to Victory
Find some success on the ground
The Pirates rank just 101st in the FBS in rushing this year. But it's not all bad on the ground for East Carolina.
In fact, running back Vintavious Cooper has actually had a decent season with 995 yards and 11 touchdowns. His best showing came at North Carolina, where ECU beat the Tar Heels 55-31 and Cooper had 186 yards.
Also, Ohio ranks just 78th in the nation in rush defense, so that's a weakness East Carolina could certainly exploit.
Put pressure on Bobcats QB Tyler Tettleton
Ohio has only allowed its quarterback to be sacked 12 times all year. That's probably why it's been able to have reasonable success in the passing game despite not having the greatest athletes.
However, ECU has been putting pressure on the quarterback all season long. The Pirates led C-USA this season with 35 sacks as a team. Linebacker Derrell Johnson led the way with 6.5 sacks.
Tettleton has experienced increased pressure this season. In November, he was sacked seven times, over half of all his sacks all year. The Bobcats also went just 1-3 in November.
Putting pressure on Tettleton has proven to be a recipe for success against Ohio. Expect ECU to take advantage.
Players to Watch from Ohio
QB Tyler Tettleton
Tettleton has quietly been an effective signal-caller for the Bobcats this year. He has over 2,600 yards passing with 20 touchdowns. Although those aren't numbers that'll jump off the page, they've been enough to get the job done more often than not.
He had a pretty impressive string of games in October, as Tettleton had three straight outings with at least 300 yards through the air.
This game will be the last for the senior out of Norman, Okla. It's unlikely he'll be drafted, so this could be the end of what has been a decent career for the Bobcats quarterback.
DL Tarell Basham
Basham ranks fourth in the MAC in sacks this season with 6.5. He's been a huge presence on a defensive line that ranks 54th in total defense, a modest ranking for a team like the Bobcats.
Against the Louisville Cardinals, Basham was the only player to sack quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The 6'4" freshman out of Rocky Mount, Va., has certainly come a long way in his first season. And the bowl game might be the perfect time for his coming-out party as an elite defensive lineman.
Players to Watch from East Carolina
QB Shane Carden
What more can be said about one of the most prolific passers in all of college football?
Carden has racked up 3,866 yards passing and a whopping 32 touchdowns this year. Those marks rank sixth and eighth nationally, respectively.
The high-octane gunslinger also has two games of over 400 yards passing and three games of five touchdown passes.
Carden is a junior from Texas, so it's unsure whether or not he'll return for his senior season. To be safe, go check him out in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.
WR Justin Hardy
What would a great quarterback be without his favorite target?
For Carden, that man is 6'0" receiver Justin Hardy. So far in 2013, Hardy has 1,218 yards receiving—13th best in the nation—and eight touchdown grabs.
His best showing? His game against Tulane in which he had 17 catches for 230 yards in a heartbreaking overtime loss—17 catches!
What They Are Saying
Ohio athletic director Jim Schaus' statement regarding Ohio accepting an invite to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, per OhioBobcats.com:
"We are very honored and excited to be invited to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg," said Jim Schaus, Ohio Director of Athletics. "The bowl has a national reputation of doing things first class and taking great care of the participating teams. I am ecstatic for our team, coaches, fans and university. These opportunities benefit our program and in so many ways. We can't wait to get to St. Pete!"
Ohio QB Tyler Tettleton on his surprise to hear the Bobcats made a bowl game, per The Post:
"Honestly, I didn't think we were going to make it and I think that was kind of the belief around the locker room."
East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill on possibly winning 10 games, per the school's website:
"We're looking forward to the challenge of accomplishing a 10-win season, something that has only been done once in the history of our program, and allowing a special group of seniors a chance to play for a bowl championship."
It's certainly impressive that a school such as Ohio has made a bowl game five times in a row. That's an accomplishment worthy of recognition.
But let's be real, the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl in 2013 belongs to the East Carolina Pirates.
The Pirates have upended teams like North Carolina and NC State this season. And they barely lost to Virginia Tech.
There's just no way Shane Carden and Co. won't light up the Bobcats defense, and this game could get out of hand early.
Predicted Final Score: East Carolina 48, Ohio 17