Beef O' Brady's Bowl preview: ECU vs. Ohio
East Carolina (9-3, 6-2 C-USA) vs. Ohio (7-5, 4-4 MAC)
December 23, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
East Carolina Players to Watch:
Shane Carden, QB—Carden is only a junior, but is arguably the best quarterback in East Carolina school history. He’s thrown for 6,982 yards and 55 touchdowns in two short seasons as the starter, winning 17 games.
Justin Hardy, WR—One of the most athletic players in the country, Hardy is an NFL talent with big-play capability. He’s also Carden’s favorite target, reaching at least 10 receptions in five different games this season.
Ohio Players to Watch:
Tyler Tettleton, QB—The undoubted leader of the team, senior QB Tyler Tettleton has had a solid career at Ohio. He has an outstanding chance to reach the 10,000-total-yard plateau (currently sits at 9,789) for his career as a three-year starter, and hopes to add to his 81 total touchdowns.
Beau Blankenship, RB—He hasn’t had nearly the same success he had a year ago, but Blankenship remains a big part of this Ohio offense. Beau is coming off a 13-carry, 124-yard performance against UMass.
East Carolina Key to Victory:
Sling the rock. On paper, Ohio has actually done quite well against the pass (No. 29 in the country), but hasn’t seen an air attack like East Carolina’s since Week 3 against Marshall and the season opener vs. Louisville—both teams shredded the secondary for over 350 yards. The Pirates don’t really run the ball very well, but that shouldn’t matter—just keep doing what you do best, guys.
Ohio Key to Victory:
Keep the big plays to a minimum. Ohio cannot afford to get into an early hole due to coverage breakdowns in the secondary, because Shane Carden will eat that right up. If the Bobcat defense can get pressure in the backfield while keeping everything in front of it, it will allow Tettleton the opportunity to keep Ohio in the game and hopefully match the Pirates’ offense blow for blow.
Line: East Carolina (-13.5)
Prediction: Ohio has really limped into the postseason, and some are wondering how it was handed an invitation over the likes of Toledo and Western Kentucky. Regardless, Hardy will present a lot of matchup problems for the Bobcats’ defense and I don’t think Tettleton and Co. will be able to keep up for more than a half.
East Carolina 45, Ohio 27
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