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Beef O' Brady's Bowl: East Carolina Pirates vs. Ohio Bobcats Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/23/13

Ohio Bobcats (7-5) at East Carolina Pirates (9-3)

College Football: Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm (Tropicana Field)

The Line: East Carolina Pirates -13 -- Over/Under: 65.5 See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN

Storyline: Ohio enters the postseason for a sixth straight year when they meet offensive powerhouse East Carolina  in the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl Monday with both teams trying to erase disappointing conference finishes.

The Breakdown: The Ohio Bobcats fizzled out at the end of their 2013 campaign, losing three of their final four games after a 6-2 start that had them sitting atop the MAC with just one conference loss. Ohio bounced back nicely from its upset loss to Central Michigan with consecutive blowout victories over Eastern Michigan and Miami (OH) only to see the conference slip from its grasp with the three-game losing streak that followed. The 30-3 embarrassment at Buffalo was eclipsed by the 44-13 loss to Kent State and the 49-0 stunner at Bowling Green, in which the Bobcats managed just 172 total yards. Ohio ended the regular season on a high note, however, with a 51-23 rout of UMass that put an end to their offensive struggles with 461 total yards on the day.

Beef O' Brady's Bowl: East Carolina Pirates vs. Ohio Bobcats Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/23/13

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio comes in with mediocre to poor ratings in virtually every statistical category, ranking 58th in the country in passing yards at 238.5 per outing, 96th in rushing with 136.3 per, 72nd in scoring offense at 28 points a game, and the 67th scoring defense, allowing 26.7 points. Senior QB Tyler Tettleton had some struggles this season, totaling 1 TD and 2 INTs in the Bobcats’ three game slide, but he’s also had a few highlights, completing 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,623 yards, 20 TDs and 9 INTs. Other Ohio players to watch include senior RB Beau Blankenship (844 YDs, 5 TDs), who had a whale of game in last season’s 45-14 Independence Bowl win over LA-Monroe with 104 yards and 4 TDs, and Tettleton’s primary target, senior WR Donte Foster (63 REC, 858 YDs, 6 TDs).

Meanwhile, East Carolina had a strong campaign that ended on a bitter note with a 59-28 loss to Marshall in the season finale that would have given the Pirates their third Conference USA title. The loss ended an impressive five-game winning streak that saw E. Carolina dominate, among others, Southern Miss, Tulsa and NC State. But the 55-31 shootout win at North Carolina, in which the Pirates racked up 603 total yards, was the high point of the season.

East Carolina comes in with an offensive juggernaut in the nation’s 10th-ranked passing game at 331.5 yards per outing and 11th-ranked scoring offense at 40.4 points per contest. The unit is led by junior QB Shane Carden, Conference USA’s MVP and one of college football’s most prolific passers this season. Carden’s 3,866 passing yards are sixth best in the nation, while his 32 TD passes rank eighth and his 71.0 completion percentage is tops in the country. The Pirates average just 128.3 yards per outing on the ground, but possess a standout in senior RB Vintavious Cooper, who rushed for 995 yards and 11 TDs this season. And one of the nation’s top passers has, of course, spawned one of the nation’s top receiver’s, junior Justin Hardy­­—the FBS’s fifth most productive wideout with 105 receptions for 1,218 yards and 8 TDs.

Rick's Pick: E. Carolina is currently a 13-point favorite in this one with a 65.5 point total. It’s doubtful that Ohio will be able to answer the Pirate passing game and as far as Ohio’s offensive outlook, Carolina also brings a pretty stout defense, ranking 51st in the country in points against at 25.2. Look for an ECU cover as well as an over on the points.

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East Carolina -13

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