The ECU Pirates and the Temple Owls will do battle on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia in the final weekend of regular season football action in the AAC. East Carolina comes into this matchup at 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the conference. They have lost each of their last two games. Meanwhile, Temple comes into the matchup at just 3-8 overall and 1-6 in the conference. Temple has also lost two-straight games as well. Something has to give on Saturday when this game kicks off at 1:00pm EST between two AAC teams that have lost two straight games.
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Bowled OverThe ECU Pirates have qualified for a bowl game with their six wins but have sputtered over each of the last two weeks since earning that sixth win. After upsetting BYU 27-24 on the road three weeks ago, the Pirates had to match up against the armor of the AAC, losing to the Cincinnati Bearcats at home before following that up with a poorly played home loss to Houston last week, 42-3. Senior quarterback Holton Ahlers certainly would have liked to end his college career at home on a higher note but, unfortunately, Senior Day fell against the Houston Cougars and their dominant offense. It was also the Pirates' last crack at Houston as a conference member with the AAC as the Cougars are set to move to the Big 12 next season. Ahlers finished the day 15-of-30 for 182 yards in his final college home game.
"We just didn't have a good day," Ahlers said moments after walking off the home turf for the last time. "Pretty much everything that could have went wrong went wrong. It was a tough one. I would have done anything to win that game. That's one thing about sports. It doesn't really care about anything. You've got to go out there and show up, and we did not show up."
Back to work 💪 pic.twitter.com/U4G99NTUdv— ECU Football (@ECUPiratesFB) November 22, 2022
The Pirates will look to close out their season with a seventh win as they prepare to wait for an official bowl invite. They are ranked 65th in the NCAA in scoring offense. They have the 58th-best ground attack and the 15th-best passing attack. ECU has been excellent with ball security, ranking 13th in turnover differential. ECU has the 63rd-ranked scoring defense in the country. They are 25th against the run and just 115th against the pass through their first 11 games. Lastly, the Pirates will not hurt themselves, ranking 5th in penalties this season.
The Owls Streaking in the Wrong DirectionThe Temple Owls come into this final matchup of the season with an overall record of 3-8 and with losses in each of their last two games. At home, however, Temple has been competitive as they've gone 3-3 on the season. They finished their road schedule winless this season. Like ECU, the Owls had to match up with Houston and Cincinnati in each of the last two weeks. Temple nearly went score for score with Houston at Houston before falling 43-36. In Cincinnati last week, however, the Owls' offense struggled to move the ball and turned it over four times in the game. Quarterback EJ Warner threw for just 167 yards and was picked off twice in the loss. They finished with just 202 total yards of offense compared with 202 yards for themselves. The Owls ran for just 35 yards in the loss.
Temple has a chance to finish the season over .500 at home with a win on Saturday vs. ECU. The Owls are just 114th in the nation in scoring offense. They are just 127th in rushing while a more respectable 47th in passing. The Owls are just 114th in turnover differential. Temple's scoring defense is ranked 80th. They are 121st in the country stopping the run but are 26th against the pass. Like ECU, the Owls are not going to hurt themselves with penalties. They are 29th in the nation in penalties.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Temple is coming off of two-straight losses on the road but has been a solid team at home this season. On Senior Day, giving the Owls 10.5 points seems like too much to give. The Pirates' motivation will be interesting given that they have already clinched a bowl bid and may not increase their options even with a win in this spot. Temple also might have a chip on their shoulder after being dominated in Cincinnati. Temple's secondary should match up fairly well with the passing attack of ECU as the Owls have the 26th-best defense against the pass. Look for a tight enough game that Temple covers the double-digit spread at home. In fact, the Owls are 7-3 in their last ten against the spread.
Take the Owls +10.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Neither of these offenses is ranked in the top 50 in terms of scoring. ECU's strength is the pass while the Owls' strength defensively is slowing down the pass. Temple's season is this game as they are not bowl-eligible for the season. With that in mind, the Owls will be motivated to keep this game close and low scoring. Temple is 4-1 to the under in their last five games at home and I expect this game to fall right in line with that. ECU wins this game but it will be a low-scoring, tight game.
Take the under, 50.5 points.