In their first home game of the season, the West Virginia Mountaineers host the East Carolina Pirates in a game where neither team wants to start the 2017 season 0-2. For WVU, they’re a heavy favorite at home and need to get back on track after a tough loss in Week 1. The Pirates are looking for a signature win early in the season, to rebound from last week’s embarrassing loss, and hope to play better football from here on out. Kickoff inside the Milan Puskar Stadium is at 12 P.M. ET in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Still ranked in the AP Top 25, currently #22, the Mountaineers need to fix their mistakes from last week and start winning some football games. This week’s game is the perfect opportunity for WVU to bounce back. West Virginia owns the all-time series against East Carolina with a record of 18-2 and look like a superior team on paper.
East Carolina (0-1) is coming off a surprising 34-14 loss to FCS James Madison. The Pirates, which were favored to win the game, came out flat and never recovered. In fact, it’s one of their most embarrassing losses in recent years. The Pirates look to shake off the terrible loss and put up a fight against West Virginia.
West Virginia opened as a 21 point favorite. Since then, the spread has gone up to 24 points. The Over/Under opened at 60.5 total points and has climbed up to 66.
If the East Carolina Pirates can’t defeat FCS James Madison then they have no realistic chance against the Mountaineers. In fact, I expect this game to be a blowout by halftime. The Pirates are starting Thomas Sirk this week as he outplayed Garner Minshew, but that’s not saying much. The entire offense looked terrible and it’s hard to imagine that they will be able do any better this week despite WVU giving up 469 total yards to Virginia Tech last week.
Will Grier got his first start last week against VT and he looked every bit as good as he did prior to his suspension and departure from Florida 1 ½ years ago. Grier completed 31-of-53 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns against a good Hokies defense. He also added 52 yards on the ground, which contributed to the team’s total output of 221 yards rushing for the game. Running back Justin Crawford was the leading rusher with 106 yards on 13 carries.
Expect WVU to have a monstrous game offensively. The only question is when the starters will be pulled from the game. If James Madison can tally over 600 yards and 34 points against East Carolina then West Virginia can put up 1,000 yards and 50 points. Realistically, the Mountaineers probably will come close to the 600 yards, but easily eclipse the 34 points. I see the starters being pulled half way through the 3rd quarter and the backups getting plenty of action.
East Carolina is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 overall games and also 0-5 ATS in their last 5 road games. The Pirates are 3-6 ATS in their last 9 games against WVU and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 trips to West Virginia.