Friday, November 13, 2020, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati Ohio, 7:30 p.m. ET
Pirates at Bearcats Betting Preview: Pirates (+17.5), Bearcats (-17.5)
Eastern Carolina Pirates Betting Preview
Second-year East Carolina coach Mike Houston is looking forward to taking his Pirates (1-5, 1-4 American Athletic Conference) to Cincinnati to find out just how they measure up to the conference leader.
“It’s an exciting matchup for our players,” Houston said. “Being able to go on the road against an opponent of Cincinnati’s caliber and playing on a national stage has our players and staff excited.”
Houston, who was 37-6 at FCS school James Madison with a national title in 2016 and a runner-up finish the following season, is attempting to rebuild an East Carolina program that has not won more than one conference game in a season since 2017.
The Pirates finished with three consecutive 3-9 overall records before going 4-8 last season.
Despite a three-game losing streak, junior quarterback Holton Ahlers said he feels the culture has changed for the better since Houston’s arrival.
“We know that we’re so close,” Ahlers said. “We are as close as we’ve been since any of us have been here. The brighter days are ahead, and that’s what we’re going to continue to fight for. Our first chance is Cincinnati.
“We had a good game versus Cincinnati last year, and we’re going to go up there and try to pull off the upset against a great team.”
Last season, the Pirates led the Bearcats, who at the time were ranked 17th in the nation, 40-28 going into the fourth quarter before Cincinnati outscored them 18-3 to win 46-43 in Greenville, N.C.
Ahlers has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 270.8 yards a game but has five interceptions in 198 attempts to go with 12 touchdown tosses. Rahjai Harris has rushed for 475 yards for the Pirates, averaging 5.2 per carry.
Cincinnati Bearcats Betting Preview
No. 7 Cincinnati (6-0, 4-0 AAC) will take a program-record 18-game home winning streak into the game and have put themselves in the conversation to be the first team from a non-Power 5 conference to make the College Football Playoff.
“Why not? We’re putting in the work as much as other teams,” Bearcats running back Gerrid Doaks said. “Why not get a shot? Our goal is to make a statement every week. Go out there and dominate.”
That domination begins with a defense that ranks fifth nationally in allowing just 11.7 points allowed per game.
“Just knowing our defense is playing at the high level they play at, it gives us all the confidence in the world to go out and make plays,” Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder said. “It puts us in the best position we can be.”
The Bearcats are also 10th in rush defense (93.3 yards per game), which is bad news for East Carolina because the Pirates ran for just 35 yards on 29 attempts in a 38-21 loss to Tulane last week.
“Cincinnati is the top team in our league and will be until someone knocks them off,” East Carolina’s Houston said. “I’ve been there. I’ve been the bunch that is at the top. The tough thing about it is that you’ll get everyone’s best shot each week. It’s hard to get the top, but it’s also hard to stay there.”
Pirates at Bearcats Betting Pick for November 13, 2020
The two teams have played every year since ending a 10-year hiatus in the series in 2014, and the Bearcats have won eight of the nine meetings since then. The Bearcats romped 56-6 in 2018, the last time they met in Nippert, but squeaked out a 46-43 win on a field goal as time ran out in last year’s meeting. Ridder rushed for 121 yards but passed for only 161 that game.
Pirates at Bearcats Betting Pick:
Bearcats 49, East Carolina 10
Pirates at Bearcats Best Bet for November 13, 2020
The Bearcats have held their opponents to an average of just 11.7 points a game while the Pirates haven’t scored more than 30 points since a 44-24 win over South Florida back on October 10. The Bearcats have scored 129 points their last three outings (42-13 over SMU, 49-10 over Memphis, 38-10 over Houston).
Pirates at Bearcats Best Bet: OVER 56.5