CFN Preview - East Carolina at Houston
Posted Oct 7, 2011

Week 6 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - East Carolina at Houston

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 6 - East Carolina at Houston

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Oct. 8 at Houston 56 … East Carolina 3
CFN Analysis: Houston played … defense?! It was like Case Keenum and the offense were so used to having to bomb away to keep up with the porous defense that they kept playing with the normal sense of urgency that wasn't necessary. Keenum threw for 307 yards and three scores, and the ground game came up with 215 yards and five scores in the easy win, but it was the defense that made it a blowout with four picks and a phenomenal pass rush. George Bamfo was unstoppable with three sacks and Sammy Brown chipped in with two more, along with six tackles. Throw in the Georgia State game, and the Cougars have held two teams to a total of three points in two of the last three games. Marshall's offense doesn't have much pop, and if Keenum can connect on 30-of-37 passes, and if the D can win the turnover battle, there won't be a problem.

The offensive line is having an awful year, and the entire team is suffering. For yet another season, the defense is miserable and isn't doing anything to stop anyone's midrange passing game, and the ground game is the worst in the country after netting just 21 yards against the Cougars. Giving up nine sacks will kill the average, and it'll also force a ton of mistakes with Dominique Davis having to force his throws to make up for the problems everywhere else. At this point, if Davis isn't bombing away for 300 yards, ECU doesn't have a prayer – except for next week against Memphis. There's still a chance to turn the season around, but the turnovers have to stop and the O line needs to give Davis a shot.

HOUSTON -- Case Keenum was 30 of 37 for 304 yards and three touchdowns in just over three quarters to lead Houston to a 56-3 win over East Carolina on Saturday night.

Patrick Edwards caught 12 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, Charles Sims rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns to lead Houston (6-0, 2-0 C-USA). Houston had 572 total yards.

Dominique Davis was 13 of 23 passing for 169 yards and three interceptions and Lance Lewis caught five passes for 73 yards for East Carolina (1-4, 1-1 C-USA). Torrance Hunt had 64 yards on 11 carries for the Pirates.

Keenum passed former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell for second on the NCAA all-time passing yards list and now has 15,895 yards. He broke out of a tie for third with former Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer of BYU on the all-time touchdown passes list and now has 124 for his career.

Houston's defense finished with four interceptions and nine sacks and held the Pirates to 284 total yards, including 21 rushing yards.

Beall put Houston up 7-0 with 9:43 left in the first on a 1-yard touchdown run capping a 15-yard, 80-play drive.

After ECU went three-and-out on its first drive, Patrick Edwards returned the punt 54 yards to set Houston up at the Pirates' 18. Two plays later, Keenum found Edwards in the corner of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 with 7:22 remaining in the first.

Michael Barbour cut the lead to 14-3 with a 54-yard field goal with 5:48 left in the opening quarter, but Houston upped the lead to 21-3 with Charles Sims' 5-yard run to begin the second quarter and the rout was on.

After Phillip Steward intercepted Dominique Davis at the Houston 21 to halt East Carolina's drive, Houston took seven plays to go 79 yards, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Sims with 7:39 left in the second.

After Derrick Matthews picked off Davis at the Pirates' 39, Keenum, who completed his first 10 passes, extended the lead to 35-3 on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Edwards.

To begin the second half, Thomas Bates intercepted Davis, leading to a 19-yard touchdown run by Hayes, and Keenum added a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tyron Carrier to begin the fourth quarter.

East Carolina (1-3) at Houston (5-0) Oct. 8, 7:00, CBS Sports Network

Here's The Deal … East Carolina and Houston will meet for the first time since the pair played for the Conference USA title at the end of the 2009 regular season. A repeat engagement this December can't be ruled out as long as both continue to win league games. The Cougars have swept through their first five games, including last Saturday's 49-42 escape of UTEP in El Paso. Houston is creeping ever so close to the Top 25, carrying the conference banner every step of the way.

The Pirates will arrive in Space City battle-tested, having played the toughest non-conference schedule of any league member so far. East Carolina had its moments against South Carolina, Virginia Tech and North Carolina, but came up short in each instance. With an upset on Saturday evening, it'll join UCF and Southern Miss as favorites to cop an East Division crown.

Why East Carolina Might Win: The Georgia State blowout aside, Houston has struggled to make stops on defense, and ranks 92nd nationally. In the win over UTEP last weekend, the Cougars were gashed for six touchdowns and 538 total yards. It was the same old story for a D that's been a perennial Achilles' heel. It's a good thing for the Pirates that they've got the artillery to blow a few more holes into that unit. They'll delight at the prospect of facing lighter competition for a change, unleashing the nation's 25th-ranked passing attack. This is the right setting for QB Dominique Davis to join forces with top receivers Justin Hardy and Lance Lewis, and recapture his stellar 2010 form.

Why Houston Might Win: Anything you can do, I can do better. At least that'll be the mantra of the Cougars, which boast a far more diverse and prolific attack than the Pirates. Houston is leading the country in total offense at 610 yards per game, and has yet to be held below 35 points. QB Case Keenum is all the way back from last fall's season-ending knee injury, opening with 14 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. East Carolina will labor to match the speed and playmaking ability of all of Keenum's weapons, such as backs Michael Hayes, Bryce Beall and Charles Sims, and receivers Patrick Edwards, Tyron Carrier and Justin Johnson. The Cougars spread the wealth as well as any team in America.

What To Watch Out For: When disparaging the Houston defense, it'd be wise to remove LB Sammy Brown from the crosshairs. The senior is the exception to the rule for the Cougars, making nearly one-third of his tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He leads the nation with 11.5 stops for loss by displaying the closing speed and pass rushing ability of a defensive end. Someone in purple will need to get a hat on No. 8 or else he'll disrupt the rhythm of Davis and the ECU passing attack.

What Will Happen: The Cougars and the Pirates will trade blows for all 60 minutes, piling up the points and the passing statistics. While Houston's D will ensure that the game remains relatively close, the offense will make sure that the upset is avoided. It'll endure only modest resistance from East Carolina, operating its attack just the way it did over the first five games. Keenum will outgun Davis in an entertaining shootout that features more than 800 yards of total offense and at least six touchdown passes.

CFN Prediction: Houston 41 … East Carolina 31
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Houston -9.5  O/U: 73

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