Coastal Carolina vs East Carolina Odds
A pair of Group of Five teams from the Carolinas will meet in Birmingham, AL for the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl on Tuesday evening.
The matchup between Coastal Carolina and East Carolina features a pair of veteran starting quarterbacks who have set multiple program records in Grayson McCall and Holton Ahlers. That duo combined for 47 touchdowns and just seven interceptions on the season, so expect to see plenty of offensive fireworks.
So, where does the betting value lie in a game that has seen plenty of line movement on both the spread and total leading up to kickoff? Let’s take a closer look.
Despite losing plenty of skill position talent, the Coastal offense still cooked for most of the season with a healthy McCall, who finished in the top five nationally in passing efficiency, yards per attempt and completion percentage.
He did miss some time at the end of the season with an injury before returning for the Sun Belt Championship, where he was obviously still hampered.
However, with over three weeks passing since that contest, I’d expect McCall — the only player to ever win Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year three times — to be at close to full strength after committing to play in this game despite entering the portal transfer.
Stud center Willie Lampkin will do the same and suit up on Tuesday night.
I can’t say the same for a defense that really struggled throughout the entire season. The Chants will not have the following players available in Birmingham:
- CB Lance Boykin (NFL Draft)
- CB D’Jordan Strong (NFL Draft)
- DE Josaiah Stewart (portal)
- CB Manny Stokes Jr. (portal)
That means the Chants will have to do without their top pass rusher and top two cornerbacks on a defense that finished outside the top 100 in EPA per Pass. That’s not great for a unit I already had ranked 101st in the country after adjusting for the opponent.
Its pass rush was clearly the strength, but losing Stewart — who set the program record for sacks in 2021 — really hurts in that department.
It’s also worth noting Coastal Carolina will be without head coach Jamey Chadwell, who took the same position at Liberty. However, McCall knows the offense very well and highly-respected offensive coordinator Willy Korn is still there, so I don’t think it’s a very meaningful loss for this one game.
ECU profiled very similar to Coastal Carolina with a veteran quarterback in Ahlers, who has been a starting quarterback in Greenville for five seasons. He leads an electric offense that can beat opponents in multiple ways.
Star running back Keaton Mitchell rushed for over 1,300 yards with a gaudy 7.4 yards per attempt average. Only Michigan’s Donovan Edwards averaged more (7.5) among RBs with at least 100 carries.
Meanwhile, Ahlers, who finished the regular season with 23 touchdowns to just five interceptions, has a plethora of weapons to work with on the outside, led by Isaiah Winstead and CJ Johnson. That duo combined for over 140 catches and 1,900 yards on the season.
The Pirates offense, which I have ranked as a top-40 unit nationally at full strength, will be missing a pair of primary contributors.
Former Oklahoma transfer Ryan Jones will skip the bowl to focus on the NFL Draft. The tight end will be sorely missed in the red zone in particular.
Another Jones in center Avery Jones will also not play in the Birmingham Bowl after transferring to Illinois.
As a result, Hampton Ergle will make his first career start after logging only nine snaps this season. He does have elite size at 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds but has to fill the big shoes of Jones — a three-year starter who only allowed one sack this season. He may have his hands full at times against Coastal nose tackle Jerrod Clark.
On the other side of the ball, the ECU defense excelled against the run all season but really struggled against the pass, where it also ranked outside the top-100 in EPA per Pass and bottom-10 nationally in Pass Success Rate.
It’s also a unit that fell apart towards the end of the regular season, allowing both Temple and Houston to reach at least 42 points in their final two contests.
It doesn’t help that it struggles to generate a pass rush, ranking 98th in Sack Rate.
Coastal Carolina vs East Carolina Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Coastal Carolina and East Carolina match up statistically:
Coastal Carolina Offense vs. East Carolina Defense
East Carolina Offense vs. Coastal Carolina Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||124||126|
|Seconds per Play||29.0 (114)||26.8 (74)|
|Rush Rate||58.6% (28)||46.8% (107)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Coastal Carolina vs East Carolina Betting Pick
These are two eerily similar teams when you compare them statistically. They even both have extremely poor special teams units.
Assuming McCall is at full strength, I don’t see ECU getting many stops when he drops back to pass. The Pirates may also really struggle on third downs, which is where McCall makes his living. On the season, ECU finished outside the top 100 on third downs, primarily due to its poor pass defense.
And when ECU has the ball, Ahlers should enjoy the same success against a very poor pass defense that will be down two starting cornerbacks and its top pass rusher.
That’s bad news when you consider those were by far their most productive players on that side of the ball. The safeties and linebackers are just so bad for Coastal, so the Pirates should exploit this unit with ease.
The pace is a bit of a concern since this isn’t a matchup of speed racers, but I still believe both offenses will get into the 30s here.
I bet over 58 earlier this month, which has obviously taken money since. I’d still play it at 64.5 but wouldn’t go above 65.
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