The East Carolina Pirates, coming off of a 76-35 home defeat to Navy, try to get the season back on course as they take on the UAB Blazers on Thursday night. The Pirates still have a lot to play for as they seek a post-season bowl berth. Their remaining three games aren’t too difficult and quarterback Dominique Davis is a big part of the kind of progression that has been made in the first year of head coach Ruffin McNeill. A big key to their success tonight will be how their aggressive pass offense (7th nationally) squares up against a dreadful UAB pass defense that comes in ranked 101st nationally. The Blazer defense is also ranked 96th in the country in terms of points given up per game. It’s a major factor to watch throughout.
It really has been an up-and-down season for East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill who is in his first go-around in Greenville. The Pirates beat Tulsa on opening day with a Hail Mary then turned around and hammered Memphis with five first-half touchdowns. Then, they lost to Virginia Tech and North Carolina in back-to-back weeks before ripping off wins over Southern Mississippi, North Carolina State and Marshall. In their last two games, they’ve surrendered 125 points in losses to Central Florida and Navy. Will this be a continuation of the pathetic defensive performances? Or, will the Pirates make a stop or two en route to another Conference USA victory? The Pirate defense has already had four players KO’d for the season with injuries and a glance at the injury report doesn’t bode well: an additional four Pirates are either questionable or probable. Regardless, it’ll be a chance for an average UAB offense (46th nationally in yardage) to get some confidence.
UAB. When you hear the letters you might think of Mike Davis’ basketball move from Indiana to Birmingham. You may think of some impressive offensive outings through the years. What you don’t think of: football defense and winning. And, the Blazers certainly haven’t let anyone down this year—except themselves. A 3-6 campaign with some ugly losses and some shootout wins. That is UAB football. And, on Thursday it is probably going to be much of the same. With the way East Carolina’s defense has been tackling lately— look for the Blazers to be able to move the ball at will. It’s a decently balanced attack as well. The Blazers are 43rd nationally in both passing and rushing. That kind of balance may not work against the TCU’s of the world but it should be able to make a lot of plays against a tired, injury-hampered Pirate defense.
East Carolina vs. UAB Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
East Carolina +2
@ UAB -2
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East Carolina vs. UAB Predictions for Week 11:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) –There isn’t any question about East Carolina’s ability to gain yardage. But, there will remain more questions about their ability to stop the run or pass. They can’t do it. And it’s right to expect UAB to move the ball at will and tack on a few points. But, is there any chance that UAB, with one of the worst pass defenses in the country, can stop the pass-happy Pirates? As a road underdog being given 0.5-3.0 points the Pirates are 7-1 in their last 8. We’ll assume the passing game is too good for the Blazers.
Game Total Prediction – There isn’t any mistaking that 67 points is a lot in college football. But with the current form of the Pirate defense (76 points last week—really?) and UAB’s complete and utter inability to stop the pass we can’t help but think this game will get into the high 30’s. It wouldn’t shock us whatsoever if the game got into the 40’s and the 50’s. We expect that kind of shootout.