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BYU Cougars vs. East Carolina Pirates Preview and Prediction

A pair of 1-6 teams looking for better results in the second half of the season get together in Greenville

BYU and East Carolina are two teams with their backs against the wall, both desperately needing a win to keep alive the possibility of going to a bowl game.

 

Both the Cougars and the Pirates enter this one at 1-6, both have played difficult schedules to this point, and both teams are looking at this game as an opportunity to get their seasons back on track with a win.

 

East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery has put a challenge out for Pirates fans to pack Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium for this Saturday’s homecoming game. Will they show up? Who knows? But one thing is for certain: Whoever loses this game is not headed to a bowl game, and neither second-year head coach wants that outcome after this weekend.

 

BYU at East Carolina

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS Sports Network

Spread: BYU -5.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. BYU offense vs. East Carolina defense

This might be the only reason you need to watch this game. BYU boasts the 128th-ranked offense (out of 129 teams) in the country this year, scoring only 11.4 points per game.

 

Lining up on the other side is East Carolina’s defense, which is dead last in nearly every major defensive statistic this season. The Pirates are giving up 50 points per game and an eye-popping 600 yards per game.


If BYU can’t muster up offense against the Pirates, the Cougars' season could go from bad to downright awful in a hurry. Same goes for East Carolina’s defense: If the Pirates can’t find success against the inept BYU offense, can they stop any of the diverse offenses in the American Athletic Conference?

 

This matchup honestly might be one of the best yet most cringe-worthy storylines to watch this weekend.

 

2. Turnovers

Any team that has a 1-6 record has probably coughed up the football quite a bit. Both BYU and East Carolina have done that. The Cougars are 121st in the nation in turnover margin, while the Pirates are 110th. Turnovers and short fields will play a significant role in this one.

 

3. ECU WR Davon Grayson vs. BYU CB Dayan Ghanwoloku

East Carolina has become a Wide Receiver U. of sorts with the talent the Pirates have been been producing and the stats that receivers are putting up during their time in Greenville. Grayson (above, right) is the next great Pirates wide receiver, and he will go up against BYU’s best cornerback in Ghanwoloku, who is coming off a game against Mississippi State in which he had two interceptions.

 

Final Analysis

 

This game is intriguing for all the wrong reasons, but I’m excited to see what these two teams can do in a game that should be evenly matched. Both teams have been outmanned in nearly every game they’ve played this season.

 

I expect BYU’s offense to make a lot of progress this week now that quarterback Tanner Mangum is making significant improvements with his ankle injury and is getting closer to full strength. But expect this game to be close. Like BYU’s offense, the ECU defense will make strides this weekend, but BYU’s defense will win the day in the trenches over the course of the game. Look for defensive end Sione Takitaki to showcase his pass-rushing talents off the edge as the Cougars get their first victory over an FBS team in more than 300 days (Wyoming, Poinsettia Bowl last December).

 

Prediction: BYU 27, East Carolina 20

 

— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is BYU Insider for ESPN 960 Sports and Publisher of Cougar Nation, part of the Rivals network. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

 

(Davon Grayson photo courtesy of ECUPirates.com)

Event Sport: 
College Football
Event Date: 
Saturday, October 21, 2017 - 19:00
Event Location: 
Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium, 100 Ficklen St, Greenville, NC 27834
Away Team: 

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