NCAA Football Free Preview – Houston Cougars at East Carolina Pirates

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The Houston Cougars (-16.5) are set to face off against their conference foe East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 p.m. ET and fans can witness the action live on CBS Sports Network.

Betting Preview: Houston Cougars at East Carolina Pirates

In this Saturday American Athletic Conference game, Houston is tabbed as the heavy favorite and is currently giving up 16.5 points. If they are wanting to take the moneyline, gamblers would currently need to put down $1,200 in order to win $100 back on the Cougars (-1200). The Pirates are getting +710 moneyline odds. If one school can catch a lucky break in the early stages, it’ll likely result in a decent live betting scenario.

The Cougars have gained 1.0 unit so far in 2018 and are 2-3 against the spread (ATS). The team has posted an Over-Under mark of 3-2.

The Pirates have lost 1.0 unit for moneyline bettors this season. They’re 2-3 ATS and also have an O/U record of 3-2.

The Cougars have gone 4-1 straight up (SU), including 1-0 SU against conference opponents. The Pirates are 2-3 SU overall and 0-2 SU in conference play.

The Cougars want to keep things rolling following a 41-26 win over Tulsa last week where D’Eriq King completed 19 passes on 27 attempts for only 165 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Patrick Carr (91 yards on 13 rush attempts) and Mulbah Car (74 yards on 11 carries) led the ground attack while Marquez Stevenson (seven receptions, 41 yards, one TD) and Romello Brooker (four catches, 44 yards, one TD) handled the receiving duties in the win.

A week ago, Temple took care of this East Carolina crew by a score of 49-6. Reid Herring completed 17-of-31 passes for 112 yards. Anthony Scott (20 rushing yards on seven attempts) and Holton Ahlers (56 yards on five carries) spearheaded the running game while Leroy Henley (five receptions, 34 yards) and Blake Proehl (three catches, 17 yards) led the pass-catching attack in the loss.

Houston has run the ball on 50.6 percent of its offensive possessions this year while East Carolina has a rush percentage of 44.9 percent. The Cougars have rushed for 264.8 yards per game and have 14 touchdowns on the ground this year. The Pirates are averaging 139.8 rush yards per game (116.0 in conference) and have seven total rushing TDs.

It appears that the Cougars could hold an edge in terms of effectiveness in the ground game. Their running backs has generated 6.7 yards per carry while the defense is allowing 3.0 yards per rush attempt to opponents. The Pirates have tallied 3.7 yards per carry and allowed a YPC of 3.2 to opponents.

The Cougars offense has tallied 317.4 yards per game in the air overall and has 20 passing TDs so far. The Pirates have put up 258.6 pass yards per outing (188 in the AAC) and have six total pass scores.

Defensively, Houston has allowed opponents to rush for an average of 131.0 yards and pass for 356.6 yards per game. The East Carolina defense has allowed 229.8 yards per game to opposing passers and 110.4 yards per game on the ground. The Pirates are allowing an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of just 6.42 to opponents, while the Cougars have given up a 7.46 ANY/A.

Offensively, King has amassed 1,162 passing yards this year, and has connected on 61 percent of his 136 attempts with 15 passing scores and only two interceptions. King has a 10.01 adjusted net yards per pass attempt overall, although that number sits at 6.73 over the past two outings.

We expect the Houston offense to mix it up in this one. D’Eriq King (228 rushing yards, six rush TDs, 0 receiving yards on the year), Marquez Stevenson (365 receiving yards, five receiving TDs) and Mulbah Car (168 rush yards) have each played significant roles lately.

In the other huddle, Reid Herring has completed 94-of-176 passes for 964 yards, three TDs and three INTs. Herring’s ANY/A sits at a less-than-spectacular 4.69 for the season and 4.68 over his last two games.

Similar to the Cougars, expect a balanced attack offensively from East Carolina this Saturday. Holton Ahlers, Anthony Scott and Trevon Brown have combined for 328 total yards and three touchdowns over the last two games.

These two squads faced off a year ago with the final result being a 52-27 win for Houston.

Houston Cougars at East Carolina Pirates NCAA Tip

SU Winner: Cougars, ATS Winner: Cougars

Team Betting Trends

  • The Cougars offense has produced seven pass plays of 40 yards or more, while the Pirates have accounted for two such plays.
  • The Houston defense has allowed six pass plays of 40 or more yards, while East Carolina has given up three such plays.
  • The Houston offense has created 13 rushing plays of 20 or more yards, while East Carolina has created seven such runs.
  • The Cougars defense has allowed two rushing plays of 20 yards or more, while the Pirates have given up seven such runs.
  • The East Carolina D has sacked opposing QBs 18 times this season. Houston has produced just 10 sacks.
  • Houston, as a team, has produced 6.31147540983607 yards per carry across its last three outings and 7.3 over its last two.
  • East Carolina has averaged 3.7 yards per carry over its last three contests and 3.9 over its past two.
  • In its last three matchups, East Carolina is 1-2 ATS and the over cashed in two of those three.
  • Houston was favored by 17 points in its previous game and the O/U was set at 71.5. The under cashed and Houston failed to cover in the 41-26 victory over Tulsa.
  • Over its last three contests, Houston is 1-2 ATS and the over cashed in two of those three.
  • East Carolina was favored by 10 points in its previous match and the O/U was set at 53. The over cashed and East Carolina did not cover in the 49-6 loss to Temple.