Editor's Note: The Military Bowl Presented by Peraton was canceled on Sunday. According to a statement from Boston College, a combination of COVID-19 cases, injuries, opt-outs, and transfers left the Eagles unable to play.
For the first time since the 2014 season, the East Carolina Pirates are preparing for a bowl game.
After beginning the season 0-2, ECU (7-5, 5-3 AAC) won seven of its last 10 games. However, the Pirates dropped their previous game at home against Cincinnati on Black Friday. Now, ECU turns its attention to the Miltary Bowl and its matchup against Boston College.
Despite its record, Boston College (6-6, 2-6 ACC) has a ton of talent on its roster, including wide receiver Zay Flowers and a tremendous offensive line. The Eagles will enter the bowl game losing their last two games to Florida State and Wake Forest.
The Military Bowl will be the first time ECU and Boston College have played each other. It will also be the Pirates' second appearance in the Military Bowl, after they lost to Maryland 51-20 in 2010. The Eagles are 14-13 all-time in bowl games but have only won once in the last eight appearances.
The Military Bowl presented by Peraton: East Carolina (7-5) vs. Boston College (6-6)
Kickoff: Monday, Dec. 27 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, Maryland)
Spread: Boston College -3
When ECU Has the Ball
Holton Ahlers has been ECU's starting quarterback the last few seasons as the Pirates had one of the better aerial attacks in the AAC. Ahlers passed for 3,129 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions this season.
Although Alhers is an important piece for the Pirates, the Eagles will also need to pay close attention to running back Keaton Mitchell. As a second-year freshman, Mitchell rushed for 1,132 yards and nine touchdowns on 6.5 yards per carry. Mitchell is also a threat in the Pirates passing game, as he 22 receptions for 257 yards and a touchdown.
Boston College has allowed 170.3 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 94th in the country. So expect the Eagles to pay close attention to slow down Mitchell.
When Boston College Has the Ball
Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec missed most of the 2021 season due to a wrist injury, which led the Eagles ranking 106th in the nation with 184.8 passing yards per game. However, Jurkovec is expected to start the Military Bowl, which should improve the Eagles' offense in a major way.
Another area ECU should be concerned about is Boston College's offense line. The Eagles have three NFL-caliber offensive linemen in Zion Johnson, Alec Lindstrom, and Tyler Vrabel. The Pirates will need to find a way to slow down an Eagles rushing attack that has average 164.3 yards per game.
The Pirates' defense has been fairly shaky, rankings 72nd against the pass (231.8 ypg) and 80th against the run (161.7 ypg). However, they do have the 67th-ranked scoring defense (26.3 ppg) in part thanks to forcing 22 turnovers, which is tied for the 24th-most in the nation.
The Eagles' pass defense ranked fourth in the country this season as they only gave up 173.5 yards per game. Boston College should neutralize the Pirates' aerial attack, although trying to stop Mitchell could present a significant issue.
The Eagles' passing game has also struggled, as they haven't been able to move the ball down the field consistently. Both teams also have difficulty converting on third down, with ECU boasting the 13th-best opponent third-down conversion percentage in the country and ranking just 105th in third-down offense.
With both teams so evenly matched, this could be a game that comes down to the fourth quarter and special teams. Either way, expect the game to be close throughout.