Kentucky-East Carolina: Liberty Bowl Preview

The Dead Guy SECAnalyst IDecember 31, 2008

Kentucky (6-6) vs East Carolina (9-4)
Liberty Bowl
Memphis, TN
Jan. 2, 4:00 PM

All Time Series: Kentucky 1-0
All Time Bowl Records: Kentucky 7-5, East Carolina 8-6
Monday’s Line: East Carolina -3

Total Offense, Scoring Offense (National Rank):
East Carolina: 336.0 ypg (86th), 23.8 ppg (78th)
Kentucky: 298.4 ypg (105th), 22.4 ppg (87th)

Total Defense, Scoring Defense (National Rank):
East Carolina: 334.8 ypg (43rd), 20.8 ppg (31st)
Kentucky: 327.0 ypg (34th), 21.7 ppg (38th)

Friday’s Liberty Bowl will be just the second meeting between these schools all-time, with the other a 6-3 Wildcat win in Lexington in 1993.

With both teams sporting mediocre offenses and decent defenses, this game may not be too much higher scoring than that one was. Kentucky has lost three games in a row and six of eight while ECU has six of seven, including knocking off Tulsa in the CUSA Championship game.

Kentucky will be playing this one without their starting QB, true freshman Randall Cobb. Cobb took over for Michael Hartline after the ‘Cats offense began to sputter in conference play.

While Cobb was not spectacular, he did bring a level of excitement to the offense with his ability to tuck the ball and run. That dimension will be missed against a solid Pirates’ D.

After two weeks of football, the Pirates were the talk of the nation after knocking off West Virginia and Virginia tech to open the season. While they hit a rough patch, lost three in a row to NC State, Houston, and Virginia, they’ve rallied nicely in the late season. QB Pinkney is steady (2,379 yards, 12/7 TD/INT ratio) particularly considering the ineptitude of the Pirates’ 84th-ranked ground game.

The talk at the beginning of the season was about the UK Defense that only gave up a total of 22 points to its four non-conference foes.

Once the SEC slate began (and the injuries mounted) the ‘Cats struggled on both sides of the ball, knocking off only Arkansas (in a miraculous Cobb-fueled comeback) and Mississippi State. East Carolina certainly has the momentum headed into this one.

When this one’s all said and done, the ‘Cat will just be too inept offensively to win this game. While it’s been a good story that this is only the second UK team to play in three straight bowls, the simple fact is that they’re average at best on both sides of the ball.

While the extra bowl practices this year will certainly pay dividends next season, it’ll be another bowl loss for the SEC this year.

East Carolina 17, Kentucky 13