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CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 2nd, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bright House Networks Stadium (45,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: ESPN. Home Record: ECU 2-1, UCF 2-1. Away Record: ECU 1-2, UCF 0-4. Neutral Record: ECU 1-0, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: ECU 2-1, UCF 1-2. Series Record: East Carolina leads, 6-1.
GAME NOTES: If the UCF Knights are to stay afloat in the Conference USA standings, they'll need to take care of business when the East Carolina Pirates come to town for a Sunday night clash. UCF has lost five of six, including last weekend's 49-19 decision at No. 19 Tulsa. This will only be UCF's second home game since September 6th. The Knights are certainly not buried in the East Division standings, but they must get things turned around in a hurry. The Pirates were idle last week, so they've had an extra week to prepare for this tilt. They were last in action on October 18th, notching a 30-10 win over Memphis. The win snapped a three-game slide for ECU. The Pirates hold a 6-1 edge over the Knights in the head-to-head series. In the last meeting, ECU scored 28 third-quarter points en route to a 52-38 win.
Coming off three straight losses, the Pirates found themselves trailing 10-7 at halftime against Memphis. But behind backup quarterback Rob Kass, who replaced starter Patrick Pinkney in the first quarter, ECU took control by scoring two third-quarter touchdowns. Kass finished 9-of-17 for 167 yards and, more importantly, got his team into the win column. Jon Williams spearheaded the running game with 108 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Williams is averaging only 54 rushing yards per game this season, but he is picking up a robust 5.1 yards per carry. Dwayne Harris paces the receiving corps with 45 catches for 562 yards.
Defensively, ECU is allowing an average of 23.57 ppg. While that average ranks the Pirates in the middle of the 119 FBS schools, they're actually the top scoring defense in the conference. C.J. Wilson is one of the stars of the defense, having logged 10.5 tackles for loss, including 5.5 sacks. Van Eskridge leads the unit with 55 tackles and two interceptions. Pierre Bell has made 49 stops (seven for loss) and recovered two fumbles. Against Memphis, the Pirates finally seemed to put everything together. The Tigers were held to just 10 first downs and 184 yards of total offense. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates are able to pick up where they left off.
If only the Knights could score some points, they'd be in a much different position in the conference pecking order. But they rank dead-last in the nation in total offense and are scoring just 17.67 ppg, which ranks 111th. Against a porous Tulsa defense, UCF managed just 13 first downs and 187 yards of total offense. The Knights favored the running game (48 attempts) in hopes of keeping the Golden Hurricane offense off the field. To a degree it worked, as UCF held a nearly eight-minute edge in time of possession. But the Knights managed just 63 rushing yards (1.3 ypc) for the game.
Thanks to a stellar defensive backfield, UCF leads the nation in interceptions per game. The starting secondary has combined for 11 of the team's 15 picks. As a unit, UCF leads C-USA in run defense and pass efficiency defense. Last week, the Knights managed to hold Tulsa and its top-ranked offense to a season-low 436 yards. Tulsa quarterback David Johnson, who one week earlier threw for more than 400 yards and five TDs against UTEP, was held to 264 yards, one TD and one INT. A big reason for that was the Knights' ability to apply pressure. They've made a living this season by making plays in the backfield, a category in which UCF leads C-USA.
ECU desperately needed a win last week to stop its downward spiral. Now, the Knights are looking for the same result. Only problem is, they haven't shown the offensive firepower to make that happen.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 24, UCF 17
10/29 10:24:34 ET