WHO: 7-5 Ohio (MAC) vs. 9-3 East Carolina (C-USA)
WHAT: Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl (6th year)
WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
WHEN: Dec. 23 at 2 p.m. ET
WHY: The MAC and Conference USA meet up in a battle of two teams that seem to be headed in opposite directions.
East Carolina won five of its last six to close the season while Ohio lost three of its last four. The Pirates have a chance to get to 10 wins, which would be the second-best win total in their history. The Bobcats are looking for their third consecutive bowl win and fourth-straight eight-win season.
ECU has a prolific offense led by quarterback Shane Carden, who threw for 3,866 yards and 32 touchdowns while also adding 10 scores on the ground. His top target is Justin Hardy, who caught 105 passes for 1,218 yards and eight touchdowns. Ohio counters with gritty quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who owns 21 school records and is 103 yards shy of becoming Bobcats’ first 9,000-yard career passer. He threw for 2,623 yards and 20 touchdown passes this year.
Ohio is in this game only because the AAC couldn’t fill its allotted bowl slots. If not for close losses to Virginia Tech (15-10) and Tulane (36-33), ECU could be 11-2 and in a more prominent bowl. The Pirates have the clear advantage.
PREDICTION: East Carolina 42, Ohio 21