EAST CAROLINA (-10.5) 23 Central Florida 16
Central Florida was a good defensive team last season but was saddled with the nation's worst offensive unit. The Knights still have a solid defense (5.0 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average team) and their offense is improved with Wake Forest transfer Brett Hodges at quarterback.
Game 1 starter Rob Calabrese has managed just 42 yards on 12 pass plays, but Hodges has averaged a more respectable 5.8 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.5 yppp to an average quarterback) an added a rushing element to his game last week with 83 yards on 11 rushing plays.
ECU's defense has been tough against the run (3.8 yards per rushing play allowed), but the Pirates have been exploited through the air for 8.9 yppp in 3 games against teams that would average 6.2 yppp against an average defensive team. Hodges isn't going to put up numbers like that, but he should be better pretty good throwing the ball in this game.
Not only is East Carolina having trouble defending the pass, they are also having aerial problems on offense, which is a bit surprising given the better than average history of senior quarterback Patrick Pinkney. Pinkney is without last year's best receiver Davon Drew, who averaged 16.2 yards per catch, and he's struggled with just 49% completions and a pathetic 4.8 yards per pass attempt and 4.1 yppp.
East Carolina is not a particularly good running team either (just 3.2 yprp the last two weeks against division 1A teams), so Central Florida's solid defense should be good enough to contain the Pirates attack and keep this game close.
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