East Carolina and Ohio both accepted invitations to play in the Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl being held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on December 23. The match-up will pit two of the perhaps more underrated teams in college football against each other in front of a national television audience. The game is set too kickoff at two 2 pm ET on ESPN. Here is a look at the two teams and how they match up against one another.
This team arguably performed as well or better than any other team that is not in one of the Automatic Qualifying conferences. They come into this game with an impressive record of 9-3. East Carolina walloped on a very impressive North Carolina team, running away from them by a score of 55-21. They have a high-flying offensive attack that was the 10th highest scoring in the FBS ranks at 40.4 points per game.
The Panthers are led by quarterback Shane Garden, who threw for 3,866 yards and 38 touchdowns. Garden is an extremely accurate thrower, completing 70.6 percent of his passes this season. His favorite target is wide receiver Justin Hardy. Hardy has the fifth most catches among FBS schools this year with 105. He also has 18 touchdowns to go along with 1,218 yards receiving.
This is a team that finds itself staggering its way into the Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl. Ohio won its last game by an impressive score of 51-23 to finish the regular season with a record of 7-5, but that was over one of the worst teams in the FBS ranks, Massachusetts. Before winning that easy game, Ohio lost three straight games in embarrassing fashion. The Bobcats lost to Buffalo 30-3, Bowling Green 49-0 and Kent State 44-13. This was a completely demoralizing stretch that a win against a hapless opponent like Massachusetts likely failed to erase the sting of.
In other words, Ohio comes into this bowl showdown against East Carolina with a lot to prove. They have a real chip on their shoulders, and they will likely go out and play like it in St. Petersburg. Led by senior quarterback Tyler Tettle, Ohio will probably need to keep pace in a high-flying shootout if they want to have a chance at beating the Panthers.
A Look at the Game
The oddsmakers are not giving Ohio much of a chance in this game. They opened the betting line by making East Carolina 13.5-point favorites, and now they are full two-touchdown favorites against the reeling Bobcats. The betting public is lining up to bet on East Carolina with roughly 65 percent of the wagers bet so far on the game made on the Panthers.
Viewers who tune in to this one of two bowl games being played on December 23 will most likely be in for a lot of action. The oddsmakers have made set the line for the total number of points scored in the Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl at 62.5, which is up a point from the opening line of 61.5. The contest will hopefully live up to this prediction, keeping viewers on the edge of their seat especially when East Carolina has the ball. There should be plenty of excitement on a lot of long throws connecting between Panthers quarterback Garden and wide receiver Hardy.
However, Ohio has the 19th rated pass rush. They collected 34 sacks over the course of the season. If they can put pressure on Garden, it may lead to some turnovers that make the game closer than the experts are predicting. It should be a good game to watch no matter how things play out.