Two college football teams still in search of their first win will meet this weekend, as the West Virginia Mountaineers host the East Carolina Pirates. The game is set for noon EST on Saturday, September 9, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia. Fans can watch the game on Fox Sports 2.
The Mountaineers opened as 19.5-point favorites, but with betting heavily in favor of West Virginia, the Mountaineers are now listed at -24. The over/under for the game is listed at 65.5 points. Click here for a full list of Week 2 betting odds and links to game previews.
East Carolina vs West Virginia Game Betting Preview & Vegas Odds
The Mountaineers were on the short end of an entertaining game against Virginia Tech in Week 1. West Virginia trailed on five separate occasions, coming back to tie or take the lead four times. But the Mountaineers couldn’t quite find the end zone late in the 4th quarter, losing to the Hokies 31-24.
Despite the loss, the Mountaineers should feel good about the performance of new starting quarterback Will Grier, who was asked to throw the ball 53 times. Grier looked like the real deal while throwing for 371 yards and three touchdowns, which should make West Virginia feel good about their quarterback situation moving forward.
The Pirates, on the other hand, are not quite as optimistic after an embarrassing home defeat to FCS team James Madison. To be fair, James Madison won the FCS national championship last season. But a 20-point loss at home will still be tough to swallow for head coach Scottie Montgomery and the Pirates, especially after a 3-9 campaign a year ago.
The loss to James Madison has prompted Montgomery to make a change at quarterback, with Duke graduate transfer Thomas Sirk taking over for Gardner Minshew. Sirk relieved Minshew against James Madison, and despite throwing a pair of interceptions, Montgomery has tapped him to start against West Virginia.
Free NCAA Football Pick Against the Spread: West Virginia -24
Even with the spread at more than three touchdowns, it’s hard not to bet on West Virginia. If the Pirates had been competitive with James Madison and lost a close game, you could talk yourself into East Carolina keeping it close against West Virginia. But a humiliating loss right before a trip to Morgantown means this game has blowout written all over it.
James Madison racked up over 400 yards rushing against East Carolina’s defense. No matter how good of an FCS program James Madison is, there’s no excuse for that. West Virginia isn’t even a team that likes to run the ball a lot, but the Mountaineers will hand the ball off all day if they enjoy the same kind of success James Madison had on the ground last week when the Pirates gave up three rushing touchdowns of 70 yards or more.
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If East Carolina tries to overcompensate for last week’s errors and puts too much emphasis on stopping the running game, it’ll just open up room in the secondary for Grier to throw the ball down field. On paper, the East Carolina secondary has plenty of talent. But the Mountaineers have plenty of size and athleticism at wide receiver, including Gary Jennings, who looks like a breakout candidate after hauling in 13 catches for 189 yards against Virginia Tech.
Even if the Pirates can get a boost from starting Sirk at quarterback, it’s hard to imagine them keeping up with West Virginia’s offense. The Mountaineers will challenge East Carolina’s defense all day and should create plenty of big plays that lead to a comfortable win.