Beef 'O' Brady’s Bowl Primer: Ohio vs East Carolina
This is a game in the wheelhouse of gamblers and die-hard fans.
The C-USA vs. MAC contest kicks off at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, in the middle of the last work day prior to Christmas Eve. Only five bowls feature larger spreads than East Carolina's -13.5, and all but one of those features two BCS powers (Notre Dame vs. Rutgers is the other).
While Derek Carr got a lot of national attention even after Fresno State lost a chance at a BCS bowl, East Carolina's Shane Carden hasn't gotten much love outside of the C-USA bubble. The Pirates offense is textbook stuff for those interested in dissecting the hurry-up offense, and Ohio hails from a conference that largely eschewed defense outside of Bowling Green.
Those who watch are likely to see some explosive plays.
Motivation: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Ohio is tired of hearing they come from an inferior conference, their schedule is whack, and all this hype about East Carolina’s offense. They have already beaten two C-USA teams in North Texas and Marshall and feel they have the players to do it again. Not to mention they are going for the school’s third straight bowl victory. I say that’s motivation, people.
If You've Never Seen Them: Senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton and his 20 passing scores control Ohio's offense. They have balance, running with two backs carrying the ball 100 or more times in B&B. Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin have combined for 12 touchdowns. Receiver Donta Foster will have the chance to make plays down the field for the Bobcats. Ohio’s defense has been pretty good versus this pass as they are 22nd in the FBS, giving up 221 passing yards per game.
Weakness: When you face a high-powered offense you must bring two things: A quarterback who can keep pace and a defense that can slow them down. Tettleton may be able to score points on that ECU defense, but as far as Ohio’s defense … I doubt they can contain East Carolina's offense. The Bobcats gave up 49 and 44 points to Bowling Green and Kent State, respectively. Nothing against those two quarterbacks, but Shane Carden is much better. Their defensive depth also is a question mark with the Pirates’ no-huddle offense.
Motivation: Head coach Ruffin McNeil will have this team ready to play. The season started so promising, but didn’t end anywhere near their goal of a conference title. In the final regular season game of the season, Marshall swashbuckled the Pirates. That 31-point defeat cost them the Eastern Division, leaving a bitter taste in their mouth. What better way to get rid of that than a victory in the Beef ‘O' Brady’s Bowl? A bowl loss last year to Louisiana-Lafayette adds fuel to the fire.
If You've Never Seen Them: Three. Headed. Monster. One of the most unheralded trios in the nation headlines ECU’s fast-paced offense. It all starts with Carden, who threw for 3,866 yards and 32 touchdowns. Vintavious Cooper controls the clock with his ability to run between the tackles and inflict punishment on defenders. The senior is only five yards away from his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. Last but not least is the game-breaking receiver Justin Hardy, fifth in the nation with 105 receptions. This hurry-up offense has put up 50 points five times this season and Ohio better bring their fast shoes to prevent number six.
Weakness: Marshall may have exposed this ECU defense on Nov. 29. Rakeem Cato’s ability to make plays with his arms and legs was a big problem that the Pirates couldn't answer. The back-breaking plays came when Cato was able to beat the secondary for big chunks down the field. Time will tell if the team fixed this weak link over the break.
Las Vegas Hilton Line: ECU -13.5
Related: Scouting The Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl