On Tuesday in Birmingham, Alabama at Protective Stadium, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (9-3, 6-2 Sun Belt) take on the East Carolina Pirates (7-4, 4-4 AAC). Two losses in a row, the most recent a 45-26 defeat to Troy in the Sun Belt Conference final, marked the end of Coastal Carolina’s regular season. With a 49-46 victory over the Temple Owls to end the regular season, East Carolina stopped a two-game losing streak to grab their seventh victory of the year.
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East Carolina Pirates
East Carolina (7-5) will play Coastal Carolina in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Postseason on December 27 at Protective Stadium. This will be the team’s first bowl appearance since 2014.
The East Carolina Pirates aim to win their eighth game of the year and their first championship bowl since 2013. They are coming off a 49-46 victory that ended a two-game losing streak when they play in this matchup. East Carolina has a strong offense that plays with great balance, but their defense may use some work.
One of the most seasoned quarterbacks in the nation is senior Holton Ahlers. The only active quarterback with more than 15,000 total yards is Ahlers. Running back Keaton Mitchell recently played one of his best games of the season, scoring four touchdowns and rushing for 222 yards. In addition, the offense has gone six games without an offensive turnover making them one of the most reliable offenses in the nation.
On the other hand, the Pirates’ defense has occasionally been disappointing. In addition to giving up more than 40 points in back-to-back contests, they also let Temple gain 575 yards in their most recent meeting. The pass defense has been questionable, ranking 132nd, but the running defense ranks 19th in the country.
Can Coastal Carolina Upset the Pirates?
Coastal Carolina has struggled mightily late in the season after getting destroyed by a combined 59 points over their last two contests. The Chanticleers biggest problem has been their passing defense. They’re giving up a whopping 281 yards through the air each game putting them at 124th in the country. Coastal Carolina has been inconsistent this year, and they have really struggled their last two games, giving up 47 points to James Madison and 45 points to Troy. They are also surrendering over 30 points per game, placing them 101st in the FBS.
One big threat to East Carolina will be Grayson McCall, who has had a fantastic year. This season, the junior quarterback has amassed 2633 yards while maintaining a 26-touchdown to-only-two-interception ratio. Be that as it may, his status to play is up in the air, with his name being added to the transfer portal. To make matters worse for the Chants, their Head Coach Jamey Chadwell will not be coaching in this game after taking the Head Coaching job at Liberty.
Why the Pirates will Win their Bowl Game
East Carolina has a very good passing game under quarterback Holton Ahlers, averaging 288.5 yards per game, which was 16th best in the nation. Coastal Carolina has a mediocre defensive secondary that surrenders an average of 281.7 yards per game in the air, ranking 124th in the country. By the same token, Coastal Carolina loves to run the football, and they will be at a disadvantage when they face an East Carolina rush defense that ranks 19th in the country.
While East Carolina will face a strong quarterback in McCall, Coastal Carolina has struggled to cover the spread this season. The Chants have failed to cover the spread in eight out of their last ten contests when facing an opponent with a winning record. In addition, Coastal Carolina has failed to cover their last three games and six of their last eight overall.
Expect East Carolina to win the TicketSmart Bowl game thanks to Holton Ahlers’ outstanding performance against a woeful Coastal Carolina defense.