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The Big East Carolina Pirates Preview

Let’s get a dub.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Central Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: East Carolina Pirates

2021 Record: 3-4, 1-2 AAC

Head Coach: Mike Houston (10-18 in three seasons at ECU)

Date/Time/Location: Thursday, October 28, 7:30 p.m., Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000), Greenville, NC

How To Watch/Listen: ESPN, 95.3 WDAE, Bulls Unlimited

Series History: USF leads series 9-2. Last: ECU won 44-24 in Tampa in 2020.

Fresh off their first FBS win in nearly two years, the South Florida Bulls have a chance to pick up their second FBS win in just five days against East Carolina today in Greenville, NC.

The big question surrounding this game is the health of USF starting quarterback Timmy McClain. He injured his ankle late in the first half of last week’s win over Temple, and did not play in the second half. Although head coach Jeff Scott said after the game that McClain was cleared to come back in, there’s still doubt he will play. We’re hearing it’s unlikely he will play, but we will know more prior to kick off.

If TMC9 can’t go, expect Katravis Marsh to get the start for the Bulls. He replaced McClain in the second half last week, and looked fairly comfortable running the show. He’s not nearly the athlete McClain is (he’s not a stiff out there though), so USF will rely on the running game to carry the load again after setting the single-game rushing record versus Temple with 421 yards.

Running back Jaren Mangham ran for 152 yards, and two scores, Kelley Joiner, Jr. rushed for over 100 yards, and Brian Battie ran for 77 yards. This three-headed monster will be called upon even more tonight. The weather doesn’t look great for the game with rain expected well into the evening, so airing it out may be difficult even with your starting QB.

The ECU defense is not as good as their numbers would indicate. They’re not Temple bad, but still pretty bad. Their schedule has been pretty weak, and have lost to every team that caused them even a little bit of trouble. Charleston Southern put up big numbers in their game.

This game may get pointsy, but I’m fully confident that Holten Ahlers will not be able to throw the ball well enough to put the Bulls away. The Pirates are horrific on third downs (25%), and converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns (52%). Like every week, this game will come down to who cashes in their opportunities.

USF 31, ECU 14