The East Carolina Pirates are in Ohio on Friday night for a tough matchup against the 6-0 Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats have New Year’s Six on their minds, as they head into this game as the No. 7 ranked team in the nation. They’ve put themselves in a nice position to get into the spotlight of a big bowl game.
The BYU Cougars are the other school from a non Power Five conference that is vying for an appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl. With fewer games and a bit of a watered down schedule this year, it’s not going to be easy to put Cincinnati or BYU ahead.
In my eyes, though, Cincinnati has to be the choice if they win out, though. With victories over Army, SMU, Houston and Memphis, they’ve had the more difficult schedule. Cincinnati also plays UCF next week, which could be the deciding factor between an undefeated season.
After UCF, all that’s left on their schedule is Temple and Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane are not a bad team at all, so that it isn’t a game that the Bearcats could take off. Cincinnati just has to stay the course and show up every week and they’re going to be fine. If that happens, I’d be taking the Bearcats over the Cougars if it came down to selection one or the other.
The Bearcats are coming off an impressive 38-10 win over Houston last week. The stifling defense was on full display, while Desmond Ridder and Gerrid Doakes went off on the ground again for Cincinnati. Their offensive line has the talent to carve a path through any defense in this conference, including the Pirates on Friday night.
East Carolina looks to finish off their season down the stretch on a high note after a 1-5 start to 2020. They have a 44-22 win over a bad South Florida team in October, but that’s the only positive thing they have to show for their effort in 2020. The Pirates are coming off a 38-21 loss against Tulane.
The Green Wave carved the Pirates up on the ground, and that has to be East Carolina’s biggest concern going into Friday night. If they can’t stop the run, this one will get out of hand in a hurry. Head below for our free East Carolina vs. Cincinnati pick for November 13, 2020.
East Carolina Pirates vs. Cincinnati Bearcats NCAAF Betting Odds:
East Carolina vs. Cincinnati Prediction:
East Carolina has to bring their top effort to Ohio if they’re going to have a chance in this one. The onus is going to fall on the defensive line and linebackers for East Carolina. They get pushed around early, then this game isn’t going to be remotely close. It’s going to be awfully tough to slow down the 1-2 punch of Gerrid Doaks and quarterback Desmond Ridder. I have little faith in East Carolina being able to slow those two down.
Doaks has gained 511 yards and 7 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry. Ridder has rushed for 394 yards and 8 touchdowns on 8.8 yards per carry. It’s pick your poison for the defense. Focusing on one or the other is going to be an impossible task for the Pirates.
Put a spy on Ridder, and Doaks is going to have even a greater opportunity to run wild. Ridder has also been successful through the air. His arm isn’t as much of a weapon as his running ability, but you can’t ignore the vertical game of the Bearcats.
Ridder has passed for 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 64.5% completions per game. With their ability on the ground, that’s more than adequate to put up a lot of points, especially on a bad East Carolina defense. The Pirates have been getting torched, notably against the run where they’ve allowed 217.2 yards conceded per game. That is not going to work against the Bearcats. Can the offense keep the Pirates around for a chance at a upset? I don’t see that happening either.
It’s going to require Holton Ahlers to come up big. Ahlers has passed for 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions on 63.1% completions. Cincinnati has allowed 205.8 yards per game through the air, and conceded only 11.7 points per game overall. Ahlers will be forced to throw the ball after the Pirates get behind, and that’s how this game could turn into a serious blowout. I’m on Cincinnati in a game where they will want to score style points in primetime with the nation watching.