Week 9 - Navy at East Carolina

Posted Oct 25, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction – Navy at East Carolina

Navy (4-3) at East Carolina (5-3) Oct. 27, 3:30, FSN

Here's The Deal:A spot in the postseason could be at stake when East Carolina hosts Navy in Greenville on Saturday afternoon. The Pirates have moved to within a win of bowl eligibility by capturing consecutive games over East Division lightweights, Memphis and UAB. However, this week they'll take a step up in weight class to face a historically tricky opponent.

Navy has given problems to East Carolina in recent years. The Midshipmen have given fits to a lot of opponents over the past decade. After starting slowly, losing three of the first four games, the Academy has found its groove in recent weeks. In fact, it's won three straight games, including victories over rival Air Force and Indiana of the Big Ten. The Mids rallied last week at home, scoring the final 10 points in a 31-30 win.

Why Navy Might Win: The Midshipmen will always be a ground-based attack as long as Ken Niumatalolo is operating the triple-option, but this current run has been fueled by a young quarterback, rookie Keenan Reynolds. He's thrown four touchdown passes over the last two games, showcasing the kind of accuracy that's making the ground game even more effective. If the Pirates must contend with Reynolds, it's going to open up space for Noah Copeland and Gee Gee Greene to gash through unfilled running lanes.

Why East Carolina Might Win: If Navy is going to grind out yards this week, it'll have to do so against one of the better run defenses in Conference USA. The Pirates are yielding just 123 yards a game on the ground, supporting the D-line with the run-stuffing ability of instinctive linebackers Derrell Johnson, Jeremy Grove and Kyle Tudor. The ECU offense is peaking as October comes to an end, scoring 83 points in the last two games.

What To Watch Out For: It took some time, but East Carolina has developed a capable quarterback, Shane Carden, who has been terrific over the last two weeks. And as he has settled down, his supporting cast has taken off as well. RB Vintavious Cooper just got done rushing for 172 yards and two scores, and appears headed for a 1,000-yard season. And receivers Justin Jones and particularly Justin Hardy will present challenges for an average Navy secondary.

What Will Happen: East Carolina and Navy are playing their best ball of the season. Someone is going to get stalled in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Pirates are the more complete team, and Greenville has been very good to them so far in 2012. They won't stop the Mids' ground game cold, but they will slow them down enough to avoid getting trampled. The ECU offense will take care of the rest, exploiting the defense with a blend of Carden's passes and Cooper's runs.

CFN Prediction: East Carolina 33 … Navy 30
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) East Carolina -4 O/U: 49.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 1.5