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Pirates vs. Golden Hurricane Preview/Pick

Conference USA Championship Game – East Carolina Pirates at Tulsa Golden Hurricane

The footballs should be flying on Saturday when the East Carolina Pirates (8-4 SU, 4-8 ATS) challenge the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (10-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) for the Conference USA title, in NCAA college football sports betting action that is scheduled to get underway at Noon ET at Chapman Stadium (artificial turf) in Tulsa, OK.

BetUS NCAAF Betting Odds: TULSA -12.5, Total 66

Here are some of the NCAA college football betting trends as they relate to this matchup:

* ECU has covered one of its last five games
* ECU has won five of its last six games SU
* ECU has played five of its last six games UNDER the total
* ECU is 0-5 ATS in its last five road games
* TUL has won 11 of its last 13 games SU
* TUL has covered its last six home games

There may have been some concern among Tulsa fans as to what this team would do to rebuild on offense after the graduation of four-year quarterback Paul Smith. Well, senior David Johnson showed them in the first game that there was very little to worry about. Johnson completed 20 of 24 passes for 332 yards in the season opener against UAB, as his team won by 23 points. And he hasn’t looked back since. Johnson’s numbers have been staggering. He’s competed 67% of his passes for 3671 yards, 11 yards per attempt, and 42 touchdowns. It’s a package that has him ranked #1 in the nation in passing efficiency, just ahead of a list that includes Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Zac Robinson, Tim Tebow, Nate Davis, Chase Daniel and Graham Harrell.

Of course, many of Johnson’s outings have come against teams that have ranked 80th or below in pass defense and some of the very worst stop units in the country. But there is no dispute about the quality or variety of his weapons. Four of his receivers have caught seven or more touchdown passes, including Charles Clay and Damaris Johnson, who both have nine. And Brennan Marion is one of the absolute top big-play receivers in the country, as he has chalked up an average of 27.1 yards per catch, best in the country – by almost ten yards – over anyone else with 1000 yards receiving. And Tulsa gets balance in its attack as well, as Tarrion Adams cuts through opposing defense for six yards a carry (and had 323 yards against Tulane).

Of course, defense is another story. Tulsa is especially vulnerable to the pass, having allowed 31 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. Heck, Houston and Case Keenum hung 70 points on them. And here you wonder whether East Carolina has enough to exploit all that. Patrick Pinkney is not a bad quarterback (42nd in passing efficiency), but with 11 TD passes (and 7.5 yards an attempt), he’s not all that explosive. So you’d think that Skip Holtz’s team would have a very difficult time trading points.

But ECU has covered 19 of its last 26 chances when getting points. The Pirates have played much better opposition in their non-conference schedule, beating both Virginia Tech and West Virginia, while Tulsa lost to Arkansas and Houston when stepping up. This ECU team has an edge on defense; they haven’t given up more than 21 points in any of their last six games. They’re more battle-tested, and should be able to hang enough to land inside the number. We’ll take points with East Carolina, the 12.5-point underdog in the BetUS Sportsbook NCAA college football sports betting odds.

Our PLAY: EAST CAROLINA +12.5 **

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