College Football Odds, Prediction, Pick: Bet the Over in East Carolina vs. Appalachian State (Sept. 2)
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images. Pictured: Tim Frizzell #10 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
- The East Carolina Pirates will take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers in a neutral-site Week 1 college football matchup Thursday night.
- The Pirates return Horton Ahlers under center, while the Mountaineers have Chase Brice, a former Duke and Clemson quarterback.
- Kyle Remillard breaks down the game below and shares a betting pick and prediction based on his analysis.
College Football Week 1 Odds
East Carolina vs. Appalachian State
The Sun Belt meets the AAC in a neutral-site opener when Appalachian State takes on East Carolina at the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium in the Duke’s Mayo Classic.
The Appalachian State Mountaineers had one of the most well-balanced teams in college football last season.
They relied on three pillars of an elite defense, a strong rushing attack, and efficient quarterback play. But this season they lose one of those pillars, replacing three-year starting quarterback Zac Thomas with Duke transfer Chase Brice, who was everything but efficient last season.
The East Carolina Pirates have been trending upwards and finally have a roster that looks ready to make it to bowl season.
ECU loses one starter on each side of the ball and brings back what was the youngest starting roster in college football. Add in the strong quarterback play of fourth-year starter Holton Ahlers and the Pirates are primed to make some noise in the American this year.
App State owns the advantage over ECU in nearly every statistical category from last year, but quarterback play could be a deciding factor between these two teams.
Despite finishing just 3-6 last season in the American, East Carolina fared better against the spread ending the year at 5-4. The Pirates had a few coin-toss games that went against them, with a controversial loss to Tulane and the close loss to Navy without Ahlers.
The Pirates ended last season trending in the right direction after dismantling Temple on the road and upsetting SMU as a 13.5-point underdog.
ECU brings back quarterback Holton Ahers, who has thrown for 51 touchdowns in his three-year career. He led the offense to 30.2 points per game and over 400 yards of offense last season. He will have his whole offensive line back this year along with many of his best weapons.
Tyler Snead and C.J. Johnson are two speedster wide receivers who combined for 935 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
The key pieces to the Pirates rushing attack remain intact and could exploit the smaller App State front-seven. Among that group is Rahjai Harris, who rushed for 647 yards and 4.9 yards per carry. Ahers also rushed for 260 yards and isn’t afraid to put his head down on third and short to move the chains.
East Carolina began to improve its defense in the final two games of the season but allowing over 35.4 points per game is a recipe for disaster. In the first seven games of the season, the Pirates allowed 228.9 rushing yards per game.
They ranked 114th in the country in Passing Success and let up 246 yards per game through the air.
Teams consistently put the ball in the end zone against them that they ranked outside the top 100 in Finishing Drives. Against an Appalachian offense that ranked 38th in that same category, the Mountaineers are inevitably going to find the end zone.
Appalachian State has proven to be a force in the Sun Belt conference, winning at least nine games in each of the last six seasons. Although it boasted an impressive record last year, it wasn't as kind to bettors, as the Mountaineers finished just 2-9 against the spread.
Hopes are high for the Mountaineers, who return 10 starters on defense and one of the top rushing attacks in the Sun Belt. But with a matchup against Miami looming in Week 2, App State may be looking past a pesky East Carolina team.
The Mountaineers have benefited from consistently strong quarterback play over the last six seasons between both Taylor Lamb and Thomas. Head coach Shawn Clark hopes that trend will continue when they hand the ball over to former Clemson and Duke quarterback Chase Brice, who has had a rocky collegiate career to this point.
With the Blue Devils, Brice threw for just 10 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while losing six fumbles. In his 11 games as the starter, he was sacked 34 times and finished with a 2-9 record.
To his defense, App State will give him a much better chance to succeed, especially with three senior wide receivers returning in Malik Williams, Thomas Hennigan, and Corey Sutton.
The Mountaineers also return junior running back Camerun Peoples, who led the Sun Belt in rushing with 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He set the new school rushing record with 317 yards and five touchdowns on just 22 carries in its bowl game against North Texas.
If East Carolina doesn’t clean up its run defense ahead of the opener, Peoples may have an opportunity to put up similar video game numbers.
The Mountaineers had the top scoring defense in the Sun Belt last year, holding opponents to just 20.0 points and 328.8 yards per game.
They return 10 starters, and for what they lack in size, they make up in speed. Both defensive ends return for their super-senior season as they take advantage of the extra year of eligibility.
The pass defense was one of the top units in the conference. App State held opponents to just 177 yards per game and 5.9 yards per pass attempt.
If there is a chink in the armor for the Mountaineers defense, it would be with the run game, where they allowed four teams to rush for 200 or more yards. Removing the ULM and Arkansas State games, they allowed an average of 171 yards on the ground.
East Carolina vs. Appalachian State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how East Carolina and Appalachian State match up statistically:
East Carolina Offense vs. Appalachian State Defense
Appalachian State Offense vs. East Carolina Defense
Pace of Play / Other
East Carolina vs. Appalachian State Betting Pick
Appalachian State owns the advantage in every statistical category from last year, and on paper, this one should be a blowout. But that may not be the case with App State replacing key pieces and East Carolina's offensive trending upward.
A key question in this game is whether or not ECU can slow down the rushing attack of Appalachian State. If not, it will open opportunities down the field and the Mountaineers could be in for a big day offensively.
ECU offense thrives when it is playing from behind, and the over has hit 10 of the last 12 games it's been an underdog, per Bet Labs.
The over/under opened at 62.5 but has dropped a full touchdown and currently sits at 55.5 at some books. That move is too much, and I'm hitting the other side.
Bet365 has the best number in the market on the other right now at 55.5, and there are plenty of 56s out there, too.