Week 5 – UTEP at East Carolina

Posted Sep 28, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction – UTEP at East Carolina

UTEP (1-3) at East Carolina (2-2) Sept. 29, 7:00

Here’s The Deal: Thrilled to be done with the toughest portion of the schedule, East Carolina is eager to get back to the business of showing why it should be the Conference USA East Division pole-sitter. The Pirates were outclassed in September by South Carolina and North Carolina, but a win over divisional rival Southern Miss lends hope for the future. UTEP enters Greenville battle-tested as well, having faced teams from the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12. To their credit, the Miners trailed the Sooners and the Badgers by just four points in the point quarter of their losses. Head coach Mike Price is hoping to parlay his close calls into victories now that league play is beginning.

Why UTEP Might Win: Considering the competition they’ve faced, the Miners D has played very well so far this year. It’s done a good job of generating pressure, spearheaded by DE Horace Miller, to rank second in the league in sacks. A stumbling East Carolina offense, which is averaging 13 points against FBS opponents, and is failing at the point of attack, will have a tough time with the speed and tenacity of the UTEP front seven.

Why East Carolina Might Win: Not your big brother’s Pirates, ECU is all about the defense in 2012. Despite already facing Marcus Lattimore and Giovani Bernard, East Carolina is only giving up 3.4 yards a carry. The program, like this week’s opponent, has held up well in the trenches and at the point of attack. The Pirates’ strength is at the second level, where Kyle Tudor, Montese Overton, Derrell Johnson and Jeremy Grove cover plenty of ground.

What To Watch Out For: Is this the week that the Nathan Jeffery who gashed Oklahoma for 177 yards in the opener reemerges? UTEP’s up-and-coming running back has been unable to recapture his early form due to a groin injury. A week ago, he carried just eight times for nine yards, lacking much burst or explosiveness. While it’s not as if QB Nick Lamaison can’t shoulder the load on offense, with support from receivers Mike Edwards and Jordan Leslie, the Miners are far more dangerous when balance is a part of the offensive equation.

What Will Happen: This is a toss-up game between a couple of teams that are more equal than their records indicate. Both have been tested by superior opponents, and hope to have learned from those humbling experiences. Neither offense has played with much consistency, putting the onus on the defenses to secure a win. East Carolina is deeper from front to back, especially now that UTEP SS Richard Spencer is out, and a return to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the first time in four weeks will help energize a tired bunch of Pirates.

CFN Prediction: East Carolina 27 … UTEP 21
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) East Carolina -4.5 O/U: 51