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7:30PM EST: East Carolina +12.5 (3 Units)
The Pirates don't do a whole lot of things very well on offense but they have a great defense. They rank 2nd in the American Conference in passing yards allowed per game at 210.4. They also rank 2nd in the conference allowing just 121.2 rushing yards per game. They even held Michigan to just 122 rushing yards on 3.9 yards per carry earlier this season. It's a rush defense that's going to come in handy against an SMU offense that's relied heavily on the ground game averaging 177.8 rushing yards per game.
Losing QB Tanner Mordecai to Wisconsin and WR Rashee Rice to the KC Chiefs via the 2nd round has proven too much to overcome for SMU's aerial attack. New QB Preston Stone has struggled to say the least. If you exclude the 1 game against FCS opponent Praire View A&M (they won 66-0), Stone's completed 79 of 140 passes (56.4%) for 891 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions through 4 games. He's also thrown at least 1 interception in each of his last 4 games. Last week against a Charlotte defense that's allowing 246.2 passing yards per game, Stone completed just 14/23 passes for 135 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
The Pirates defense should be able to keep them in this game. They're also playing at Home in a Nationally Televised game against an in conference opponent. They will get a better fan turnout than they would normally get if this game was played on a Saturday. They're 1-1 at Home this season. Their loss came to a good Marshall team 31-13 but they were leading that game 13-10 in the 4th quarter. Marshall busted off a couple long touchdowns and then ECU threw an interception trying to play catchup and that game got ugly fast.
SMU is also 0-2 on the road this season. Going into Oklahoma was a given loss but they struggled against a bad TCU defense. They scored just 17 points with 7 of them coming with just 1:50 to go in the 4th down 17 points.
Both teams are coming off a bye week which is going to help both teams prepare but it should provide a bigger edge to ECU. At 1-4 with a struggling offense, it provides time to change things around. Going into this season 99.9% of the country would have had SMU losing to OU and TCU so for them they're on schedule.
ECU ranked 3rd in the American conference in Total Yards per game in 2022 and 4th in 2021. Offensive Coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick joined ECU with HC Mike Houston back in 2019 and the Pirates have averaged over 400 yards per game every season since. We trust him to find ways to get this ball down the field with the extra week of preparation.