This Friday the Cincinnati Bearcats (9-2) will host the East Carolina Pirates (3-7). Kickoff is set for 3:30 EST at Nippert Stadium and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
Oddsmakers opened this thing up at Cincinnati -18, but that has jumped up to the Bearcats -19.5. The total for this contest is 51.5 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 13 betting schedule and for more links to our game previews.
Cincinnati vs East Carolina Game Preview & Betting Odds
The Pirates come into this one off a 55-21 blowout win at home over Connecticut, easily covering as a 17.5-point favorite. The victory snapped a 5-game losing streak for East Carolina. That’s also now back-to-back covers for the Pirates, who had lost 5 straight against the number before this recent run.
The Bearcats enter off an ugly 38-13 loss at Central Florida as a mere 6.5-point underdog. It looked good for Cincinnati right out of the gate, as they got a sack/strip on Mckenzie Milton on the Knights very first play from scrimmage and covered it up in the end zone for a touchdown. Those were the only points the Bearcats scored until the 4th quarter, as UCF led 35-6 with less than 10 minutes to play. That continued a bad stretch for Cincinnati against the number, as they are just 1-4 ATS last 5.
Free College Football Against the Spread Pick: ECU +19.5
My early lean here would be to grab the points with East Carolina. I think the public perception here will be that Cincinnati is going to be motivated to play their final home games and celebrate senior day, while the Pirates are a team just going through the motions with no shot at reaching bowl eligibility.
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That very well could be true, but I think it’s the exact opposite. I think East Carolina is going to come out and play hard against a top team in the conference. As for Cincinnati, I don’t think they want anything to do with this game. That wasn’t just another game for the Bearcats last week against UCF. They went into that game with the belief they were going to pull off the upset and not only snap the Knights perfect record, but overtake them for the top spot in the AAC East. For them to lose the way they did, getting completely man-handled, that’s as demoralizing as it gets.
Outside of a win here gets them to double-digits at 10, there’s really no incentive for Cincinnati in this game. It would be hard to bounce in this spot against any opponent, but I think it’s that much harder against a bad team like ECU.
Adding to this, I think when a team is in a spot like this, where they aren’t motivated to play, it really shows up on the defensive side of the ball, as so much of defense is effort and energy. Defense is what has led to this great season for Cincinnati and I think they not only are in danger of not covering this big spread, but I could definitely see them losing outright.
For those that haven’t been keeping up with Pirates football, East Carolina has one of the best true freshman quarterbacks that no one knows about in Holton Ahlers. He really didn’t get serious snaps until their 6th game against Houston. Up to that point he had been used basically as a wildcat option. He’s shown he can do more than just run. In a stretch of 3 games, he threw for 406 yards against UCF, 449 yards against Memphis and 360 against Tulane. He’s got an 11-2 TD-INT ratio and has rushed for 571 (5.2 yards/carry) and 6 scores. I think he can make enough plays to at least keep ECU within the number. Give me the Pirates +19.5.