East Carolina vs Cincinnati Picks and Odds


ECU are huge +1300 underdogs this week against Cincinnati. Photo by @ECUPirates (Twitter)
  • Cincinnati is a 27.5-point favorite against AAC foe East Carolina on Friday night
  • The Bearcat defense has yet to let an opponent score more than 20 points in a game this season
  • Read below for a deeper look at the next test for an undefeated Cincinnati team that is rolling

There are few teams that have been as dominant in 2020 than Cincinnati. Luke Fickell has taken this team to 6-0 this season, and they’ve won big every step of the way. That’s a big reason they’re heavy favorites against East Carolina on Friday.

East Carolina Pirates vs Cincinnati Bearcats

Team Spread Moneyline Total
East Carolina Pirates +27.5 (-108) +1300 O 55.5 (-114)
Cincinnati Bearcats -27.5 (-112) -4500 U 55.5 (-106)

Odds taken Nov. 11 at FanDuel

Not Just a Good Group of Five Team

The Bearcats are ranked seventh nationally, which brings back the question that was brought up several times with UCF in recent seasons. Can a Group of Five team make the College Football Playoff?

This Cincinnati team is more than just a good team from a non-power conference. They have taken their schedule, and in the fashion of an Alabama, they’ve thrown opponent after opponent to the side. In 2020, their average final score has been 39-14.

That is a number that includes games like a 42-13 win on the road against 16th-ranked SMU and a 24-10 win over 22nd-ranked Army.

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The team is gashing opponents, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and scoring 20 rushing touchdowns through six games. Dual-threat quarterback Desmond Ridder gains an astounding 8.8 yards per carry, and he’s a very good passer as well.

It is the running game and defense that have made the Bearcats so dominant. They are 12th nationally in total defense, giving up 302 yards per game. There hasn’t been a single team on the schedule that has scored more than 20 points against this unit. In fact, it was just once that a team even got to the 20-point mark, and that was in a 55-20 win over Austin Peay back in Week 1, in which 14 of the 20 points were scored in garbage time in the fourth quarter.

2021 CFP National Championship Odds Tracker

Pirates Have Been Poor

Take all the praise that was just heaped onto Cincinnati, and then essentially reverse it. There’s East Carolina.

This team is 1-5 in 2020, and while they’ve been able to put up some points, they’ve given up far more. Opponents score an average of 37 points against the Pirates.

Quarterback Holton Ahlers was a good runner in the last two seasons, so it’s especially odd to see his struggles. After yards per carry averages of 5.0 in 2018 and 3.3 in ’19, he’s putting up just 1.6 this season.

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The Pirates let go of universally-liked head coach Ruffin McNeil after a 5-7 2015 season. In the three years prior, his third, fourth, and fifth seasons in Greenville, he had put up seasons of eight, ten, and then eight wins. In the four full seasons since then, the Pirates have gone 3-9 three times (’16, ’17, ’18) and 4-8 (’19). They’re on track for another miserable year.

This ECU team isn’t just a struggling one. It’s a beaten-down program that has forgotten how to win. Throw in a dash of bad karma for axing the guy everyone in town loved, and that’s how you get to this point.

What’s the Best Bet?

East Carolina has been able to put up points with their pedestrian offense in 2020, but they haven’t seen a defense like Cincinnati’s yet. Ahlers is a nice passer, but he doesn’t have the weapons around him, or the versatility himself, to put up a real fight on Friday night.

If the better team has its way, this game goes “under”. Cincinnati’s run game will gash the Pirates early and let the clock bleed late, and the Pirate offense will be stymied too many times.

The spread is tougher because the Bearcats could win convincingly and still not cover. That’s a big reason to go with the total here. If you’re confident in Cincinnati to dominate the pace of this game, the “under” is the play.

The Pick: Under 55.5 (-114)

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