Eastern Carolina vs. Houston Betting Preview: Odds & Picks for Saturday’s AAC Game (Oct. 23)

Eastern Carolina vs. Houston Betting Preview: Odds & Picks for Saturday’s AAC Game (Oct. 23) article feature image

Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Holton Ahlers.

  • Holton Ahlers and the East Carolina Pirates take on Clayton Tune and the Houston Cougars on Saturday afternoon.
  • While Houston enters as a favorite of nearly two touchdowns, Matt Wispe sees value on the total.
  • Check out Wispe's betting guide for this game below.

East Carolina vs. Houston Odds

Saturday, Oct. 23
4 p.m. ET
East Carolina Odds
Houston Odds
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

In this matchup between two American Athletic Conference "contenders," this game will go a long way in determining the final conference standings.

Both teams sit second in their respective divisions and a win for Houston would likely position them as the top challenger to SMU for the right to play Cincinnati in the conference championship. A loss would put them behind the eight-ball.

East Carolina has had mixed results early in the season. It enters the game coming off of a loss to UCF that snapped its three-game winning streak. The Pirates are 3-3 against the spread and have gone over the total in just two games.

Since dropping its opener against Texas Tech, Houston has won five consecutive games, including three straight over conference opponents. Houston is now 5-1 ATS with three of its games going over the total.

East Carolina Pirates

East Carolina Offense

East Carolina is averaging 29.5 points per game, which ranks 59th in the FBS, and 6.0 yards per play, which ranks 50th.

The Pirates have played at an above-average pace at 25.7 seconds per play, but only have a 38.9% Success Rate.

ECU has struggled to finish drives, averaging just 3.19 points per opportunity. One reason for that is its 18.8% Havoc rate, which limits the team.

Holton Ahlers is completing 59.9% of his passes and is averaging 7.4 yards per attempt. The biggest concern for Ahlers is his six interceptions to just eight touchdowns.

ECU has a Passing Success Rate of 40.4% and has completed an average of 3.66 20+ yard passes per game.

Two RBs have more than 75 carries for the Pirates this season. They're averaging 6.08 yards per attempt, but even that number is slightly misleading as Keaton Mitchell is averaging 8.3 yards per carry.

ECU has a Rushing Success Rate of 37.3% and has struggled behind a bad offensive line. It is generating just 2.765 line yards per attempt and has allowed a stuff rate of 19.7%.

East Carolina Defense

The Pirates are allowing an average of 28 points per game and 6.3 yards per play. They've allowed an overall Success Rate of 42.1% and have generated Havoc on 16.9% plays.

These two below-average statistics are a big part of why they're allowing 3.97 points per opportunity.

ECU has allowed 297.5 passing yards per game and has allowed opposing QBs to complete 62.7% of their passes. The defense allows a 39.7% Passing Success Rate and 7.9 yards per attempt.  It has forced nine interceptions and defended 28 passes against.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, their run defense isn't much better than their pass defense.

They're allowing 160 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry while allowing a Rushing Success Rate of 45.2%. The defensive line has been the strength, however, as they're holding opposing offensive lines to 2.92 Line Yards per attempt and have amassed a 20.8% stuff rate.

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Houston Cougars

Houston Offense

Houston is averaging 37.2 points per game and 5.6 yards per play. It has an overall Success Rate of 42.4%.

The Cougars have played at a methodical pace throughout the year, averaging 28.2 seconds per play and 68.5 offensive plays per game.

Clayton Tune has passed for 1258 yards and 10 touchdowns while completing 69% of his passes. He's averaging 7.6 yards per attempt, but the concern with Tune is that he's also thrown six interceptions.

Houston has a Passing Success Rate of 44.9% and has averaged three passes over 20 yards per game.

As a team, Houston has been solid in the rushing department, averaging 3.7 yards per rush and 133.8 rushing yards per game. It has a Rushing Success Rate of 39.8%.

Freshman Alton McCaskill has led the team with 403 rushing yards and eight touchdowns and the offensive line has generated 2.87 Lines Yards per attempt while allowing a 21.4% stuff rate.

Houston Defense

Houston's defense is rated as the 38th best defense by SP+ and ranks 11th with 16.2 points allowed per game. It has allowed a 31.8% overall Success Rate and has held opponents to 3.05 points per opportunity. They generate Havoc on 23.3% of plays.

The Cougars have allowed just 156 passing yards per game. They've held opponents to a 30.9% Passing Success Rate and allow just 2.33 passes over 20 yards per game.

Opposing QBs have completed 56.4% of their passes for an average of 7.02 yards per attempt. They've only defended 14 passes and have forced eight interceptions.

Houston has allowed 108.5 rushing yards per game at an average of 3.0 yards per attempt. They've allowed a Rushing Success Rate of 32.4%.

The defensive line has held opponents to 2.589 Line Yards per attempt, but it has a sub-par stuff rate of 14.9%.

East Carolina vs. Houston Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how East Carolina and Houston match up statistically:

East Carolina Offense vs. Houston Defense
Rush Success7510
Line Yards11015
Pass Success766
Pass Blocking**1123
Big Play8211
Finishing Drives11116
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Houston Offense vs. East Carolina Defense
Rush Success7987
Line Yards9753
Pass Success4247
Pass Blocking**21106
Big Play51107
Finishing Drives1193
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling8139
Middle 83091
SP+ Special Teams33114
Plays per Minute57102
Rush Rate51.1% (88)52.3% (81)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Houston's defense looks like the difference-making unit in this game. With advantages across the board, it appears that the Pirates offense will find itself struggling to consistently score.

East Carolina vs. Houston Betting Pick

Sharp money bets have come in on the over for this game, but big money bets and 61% of the money have come in on the under for this matchup. I side with the under bets on this game because Houston's defense is the best unit that will see the field by a wide margin.

If I had to back a side, I would go with Houston. This is in line with the percentages of money bet on this game, as 88% of the money is backing the Cougars.

While I would place a small bet on Houston, my best bet for this game is on the total.

Pick: Under 54 or better

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