AAC College Football Betting: East Carolina Pirates at Cincinnati Bearcats

East Carolina Pirates at Cincinnati Bearcats
Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio

Thursday, November 13, 2014, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: East Carolina -1
Current Line: East Carolina -3 (-105)
Opening Total: 66 1/2
Current Total: 68
Opening Money Line: East Carolina -160 / Cincinnati +135 
Current Money Line: East Carolina -150 / Cincinnati +130

East Carolina is a slight road favorite at Cincinnati Thursday night in a key AAC contest.
East Carolina is a slight road favorite at Cincinnati Thursday night in a key AAC contest.

The American Athletic Conference is wide open with four teams with one loss. Memphis leads the conference at 4-1 over 3-1 East Carolina, Cincinnati and Central Florida. The 6-2 East Carolina Pirates travel to the 5-3 Cincinnati Bearcats  Thursday night in a crucial contest.

East Carolina leads the series 12-5 against Cincinnati including 5-3 in Cincinnati. The Bearcats have beaten the Pirates 3 straight times including 24-19 in the last meeting in 2004. Both used to be members of Conference USA until Cincinnati left for the Big East in 2004 which would later become the AAC. East Carolina joined the AAC this season from Conference USA.

East Carolina is coached by Ruffin McNeill. The Pirates have losses at South Carolina 33-23 and two weeks ago at Temple 20-10. The Temple loss snapped a 5 game winning streak for the Pirates. ECU has home wins over NC Central 52-7, North Carolina 70-41, SMU 45-24 and Connecticut 31-21, along with road wins over Virginia Tech 28-21 and  South Florida 28-17. The Pirates are 4-4 ATS and the total is 3-5 this season. ECU was a 9.5 point favorite against Temple and the total was 62.

Cincinnati is coached by Tommy Tuberville. The Bearcats have home wins over Toledo 58-34, Miami-(OH) 31-24 and South Florida 34-17, plus road wins at SMU 41-3 and two weeks ago against Tulane 38-14. The Bearcats have won 3 straight games. Cincinnati has road losses at Ohio State 50-28 and Miami-(FL) 55-34, plus a home loss to Memphis 41-14. The Bearcats are 4-4 ATS and the total is 3-5 this season. Cincinnati was a 4 point favorite against Tulane and the total was 57.5.

East Carolina is outscoring teams 36-23 this season. The Pirates are #26 in scoring and #37 in points allowed nationally. ECU is averaging 550 yards per game on offense including 361 passing and 188 rushing yards per game. The Pirates are #4 in total offense and #3 in passing nationally. ECU is allowing 339 yards per game on defense including 243 passing and 90 rushing yards. The Pirates are #90 in pass defense and #8 in rush defense. East Carolina is -6 in turnovers with eight takeaways. The Pirates average 90 penalty yards per game and opponents average 70. ECU is 62/125 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 52/134. The Pirates have 13 sacks and allowed 15 this season. ECU is 34/39 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns and opponents are 19/23 with 14 touchdowns. The Pirates have one pick six and have allowed a defensive touchdown.

ECU quarterback Shane Carden has emerged as a dark horse Heisman candidate. He has thrown for 2,791 yards with 18 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with  56 carries for 101 yards and 3 touchdowns. Running back Breon Allen has 86 carries for 605 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 25 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown. Chris Hairston, Marquez Grayson, and Anthony Scott will also get a lot of carries. Hairston and Grayson have 2 touchdown runs and Scott has 3. Kurt Benkert also has 2 touchdown runs. Receiver Justin Hardy has 65 catches for 814 yards and 6 touchdowns. Isaiah Jones has 55 catches for 575 yards and 4 touchdowns. Cam Worthy has 26 catches for 532 yards and a touchdown. Trevon Brown has 14 catches for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns. Seven defensive players and three wide receivers are questionable or out for the Pirates.

Cincinnati is outscoring teams 35-30 this season. The Bearcats are #32 in scoring and #87 in points allowed. Cincinnati is averaging 466 yards per game on offense including 309 passing and 157 rushing yards per game. The Bearcats are #15 in passing and #29 in total offense nationally. On defense, Cincinnati is allowing 476 yards per game including 267 passing and 209 rushing. The Bearcats are #107 or worse in all three categories. Cincinnati is +2 in turnovers with 15 takeaways. Cincinnati is averaging 44 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 74. The Bearcats  are 52/116 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 59/128. Cincinnati has forced 21 sacks and allowed 10 this season. The Bearcats are 28/31 scoring in the red zone with 20 touchdowns and opponents are 22/32 with 15. Cincinnati has three defensive touchdowns and has allowed one this season.

Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel has completed 59.1% of his passes for 2,049 yards with 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions along with 37 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a rib injury. He only took one snap against Tulane. He will split the snaps with Munchie Legaux. Legaux has thrown for 406 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception, and also has 47 rushing yards with a touchdown.

Running back Mike Boone has 42 catches for 357 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Rodriguez Moore has 67 carries for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hosey Williams and Tion Green will also get some carries. Receiver Shaq Washington has 43 catches for 468 yards and 5 touchdowns. Chris Moore has 20 catches for 451 yards and 5 touchdowns. Mekale McKay has 19 catches for 377 yards and 5 touchdowns. Max Morrison and Johnny Holton will also get a lot of catches. The two have combined for 7 touchdown catches.

East Carolina is 11-0 ATS after a straight up loss, 22-7 after scoring 20 points or less, 3-10 against teams with winning home records, 4-14 against teams with winning records, 1-5 in Thursday games, 1-6 after a bye week, 0-4 in conference games and overall. The under is 5-2 in the last 7 games in this series.

Cincinnati is 4-1 ATS after allowing less than 20 points, 6-2 in November, 5-2 in conference games, 9-4 in Thursday games, 3-7 after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 2-5 after a bye week, 2-8 after gaining more than 450 total yards,  and 1-4 against teams with winning road records. The home team is 7-1 ATS in this series. The Bearcats have covered 4 straight games against the Pirates. Take those head to head trends with a grain of salt because the current players on both teams were in grade school the last time these teams met in 2004.

This should be a shoot out with two explosive offenses and shaky defenses. East Carolina is a slight favorite but that is mainly because of the uncertainty at quarterback for the Bearcats. I think Cincinnati wins a close game at home.

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