The East Carolina Pirates hit the road on Thursday, November 19 to take on the winless Central Florida Knights in an American Athletic showdown. The Knights have won each of the last two meetings, including a thrilling 32-30 road win last year on a 51-yard hail mary for a TD on the game’s final play.
East Carolina (4-6, 2-4 AAC) suffered its third straight loss by a final of 17-22 at home against South Florida last time out. The Pirates were held to just 220 yards of total offense in the loss, but they still held a 17-15 lead with less than five minutes to go before giving up a 67-yard touchdown pass with 4:40 left.
Central Florida (0-10, 0-6 AAC) has been one of the most disappointing teams in the country this season. The Knights lost their 10th straight game to open the season with a 30-45 setback at Tulsa as 17-point underdogs. They committed four turnovers in the loss.
Kickoff inside Bright House Networks Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 EST Thursday night with ESPN providing the television coverage. If you are looking to bet on this game, you’ll find East Carolina as a 15.5 point favorite over Central Florida with a total set of 54.5 points.
The Central Florida Knights haven’t had a lot to be excited about this season. They are 0-10 and their head coach, George O’Leary, stepped down midseason. But they certainly do not want to go 0-12 this season and have that hanging over their heads all offseason. They have two more chances to get a win, both at home as they host East Carolina and then South Florida. Look for them to lay it all on the line in this game to get a win, especially since they are playing in a nationally televised home game on ESPN Thursday night. That’s more than enough motivation to bring out their best effort.
Look for the Knights to lay it all on the line in this game to get a win, especially since they are playing in a nationally televised home game on ESPN Thursday night. That’s more than enough motivation to bring out their best effort.
East Carolina has really fizzled out here down the stretch. It has gone 0-3 in its last three games overall and has been thoroughly outplayed in the process. Even though the Pirates beat Tulsa three weeks back 30-17, they were outgained in that contest by 81 yards. They blew a late lead and lost 14-24 at home to Temple three weeks ago, and they went on to get blown out 13-31 at Connecticut two games ago.
Last week, ECU lost 17-22 at home to South Florida as 5.5-point favorites. While that final score looks close, this was actually a huge blowout in the Bulls’ favor. They outgained the Pirates by 222 yards in the game and should have won by a lot more. They racked up 442 yards while limiting the Pirates to just 220 yards. I just don’t like the way the Pirates are playing right now, and you cannot trust them to win by more than a two touchdowns on the road, which is what it would take to cover this 15.5-point spread.
UCF has put together a couple of promising efforts here of late that make me think it can hang with East Carolina. It only lost 16-30 on the road at Temple as 19.5-point dogs on October 17 to cover that spread. The Knights also covered as 17-point road dogs to Tulsa in their last game in a 30-45 loss. But that game was closer than the final score as they were only outgained by 13 yards, but they committed four turnovers to help Tulsa pull away.
ECU has not beaten UCF by more than 14 points in any of their nine meetings dating back to 2005. The Pirates have won five of those nine meetings, but their victories have come by 7, 5, 3, 14 and 13 points. The Knights have won the last two with a 40-20 home win in 2012 and a 32-30 road win in 2014.
The Pirates are 0-9 ATS vs. poor pass defenses that allow a completion percentage of 58% or worse over the last two seasons. ECU is 4-12 ATS as a favorite over the last two years. The Pirates are 2-12 ATS in their last 14 conference games. ECU is 0-6 ATS in its last six Thursday games. UCF is 7-1 ATS in its last eight Thursday games.