Start Time: 7:00 P.M. ET, Thursday, Oct. 22
Location: Dowdy Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, North Carolina
Line: East Carolina -3. Over/Under: 52.
Last time the East Carolina Pirates were on the field, they established a balanced attack that defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. James Summers had important action and the defense was heavily involved. Most of Tulsa’s points came in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
Now the Pirates return to the field to face the most obnoxious loss on last year’s schedule. Last year, the Pirates dominated the Owls statistically but gave away the ball too many times. The result was a Temple win and the beginning of the season’s derailment.
No. 22 Temple is one of three American teams that has yet to lose, averting disaster last week versus UCF. But East Carolina realizes that it can move to the top of the East Division, replacing the Owls, with an upset Thursday night in Greenville. The Pirates have yet to lose at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in 2015, including a win over Virginia Tech on Sept. 26. And Temple shares similarities with the Hokies, a team whose identity is deeply rooted in a talented and physical defense.
The Tyler Matakevich-led D began the year by shutting down Penn State, and they’ve remained nasty ever since. Temple allows just under 15 points per game, holding opponents to three yards a carry and a 50% completion percentage. And it beats teams up. East Carolina, on the other hand, is No. 10 in American run defense, encouraging news for Owl RB Jahad Thomas, who’s rushed for 756 yards and 10 scores in six games.
East Carolina, in front of its home fans, is going to play with something to prove this week. The Pirates are no strangers to delivering upsets, and the blend of Kemp and Summers could be just what the offense needs to convert in crunch time against the Temple defense. The American will lose one of its unbeaten teams this week, while the East Division becomes a race again.