The South Florida Bulls (1-3) will take on the East Carolina Pirates (2-2) on Saturday/ This game has been moved from Orlando, Florida to Boca Raton due to Hurricane Ian. Last season East Carolina beat USF 29-14 as a 9.5-point home favorite.
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Mitchell exited Navy game early and ECU lostEast Carolina was picked to finish sixth in the AAC this season, behind Houston, Cincinnati, UCF, SMU, and Memphis. The Pirates went 7-5 last season and brought back eight starters on defense and seven on offense. Through the first four games of this season, East Carolina is 2-2 and 0-1 in the conference after losing to Navy 23-20 last week. In the non-conference play, the Pirates were edged by #13 NC State 21-20 and got wins over Old Dominion 39-21 and Campbell 49-10.
🏴☠️🏈 "It's not a serious injury, but it certainly hurt us tonight." ECU Football HC Mike Houston on the injury to Keaton Mitchell— Pirate Radio ☠️ (@PR927FM) September 25, 2022
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The Pirates are 34th in the nation averaging 464 yards per game, and 64th averaging 32 ppg. Quarterback Holton Ahlers leads the offense and has completed 66.4% of his passes for 1,067 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. The Pirates also have one of the top running backs in the AAC in Keaton Mitchell, who has rushed for 8.4 yards per attempt and three touchdowns. Mitchell had to leave the game against Navy last week after just five carries but was able to walk off the field on his own power. At the time of publishing this article, Mitchell's status for Saturday was unclear. The backup running back for ECU is Rahjai Harris, who only averages 3.5 yards per attempt but has four touchdowns.
The Pirates have allowed just 18.8 ppg which is 33rd in the nation, and are 47th limiting the opposition to 349.5 total yards on the defensive end.
Took steps back against LouisvilleAfter going 2-10 last season, South Florida was picked to finish ninth in the AAC in the preseason media poll, ahead of only Navy and Temple. The Bulls did bring back 10 offensive and nine defensive starters, but the experience has not carried over to wins. The Bulls haven't had the easiest schedule with non-conference losses to #25 BYU 50-21, #Florida 31-28, and Lousiville 41-3. They beat Howard 42-20 for their lone win in Week 2.
Last week was ugly, as the Bulls were outgained 542 to 158 in total yards by the Louisville Cardinals and also lost the turnover battle 3 to 1. The Bulls ran the ball 35 times for only 48 yards, and quarterbacks Gerry Bohannon and Kataravis Marsh combined to go 13 for 28 with 110 yards and two interceptions.
Bohannon has completed 53.4% of his passes this season for 569 yards, six interceptions, and no touchdown passes.
The Bulls' offense is 107th in the nation averaging 332.8 ppg and the team is 103rd averaging 23.5 ppg. The start for them is running back Brain Battie who racked up 295 yards on 8.2 yards per attempt and three touchdowns. On defense, the Bulls are allowing 35.5ppg which is 11tth and 121st allowing 467 yards per game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
After the loss to Navy, ECU head coach Mike Houston said that Keaton Mitchell's injury is not serious. Without Mitchell, the Pirates are still the better team, and with him, this game could flat out get ugly. The Bulls have had to deal with hurricane distractions this week and are coming off their worst performance of the year. The USF offense lacks explosive playmakers, and the ECU defense has been tough and was able to contain an NC State team led by one of the best quarterbacks in the country in week one. ECU quarterback Holton Ahler is also extremely experienced in his fifth season leading the Pirates, while USF has gotten some of the worst quarterback play in the country.
With 91% of the cash being on East Carolina as of Thursday afternoon, the line moving from -9.5 to -8.5 is interesting, but I expect an easy double-digit victory for East Carolina.
Full-Game Total Pick
I'm expecting an ugly game with East Carolina doing most of the heavy lifting. Due to the hurricane and location change, I don't expect there to be a big crowd or a lot of energy in the stadium. There are also questions about how hard the Pirates will work their star running back after he left the Navy game early. On the other end, the best chance USF has is to get Brain Battie more involved as he only averages nine rushing attempts per game. I expect ECU to dominate early and do what they have to do to leave with a win, and also force the Bulls to throw, which they don't do well. I will take the under with East Carolina winning 35-14.