East Carolina vs. Tulane Odds, Picks: Expect One of Closest Contests on Slate

East Carolina vs. Tulane Odds, Picks: Expect One of Closest Contests on Slate article feature image

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

  • 4-1 Tulane faces off against 3-2 East Carolina at home in an American tilt.
  • The Green Wave's lone loss came against Southern Miss while the Pirates dropped games to NC State and Navy.
  • Dan Keegan previews the matchup and offers up his best bet.

East Carolina vs. Tulane Odds

Saturday, Oct. 8
3:30 p.m. ET
East Carolina Odds
-110o / -110u
Tulane Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

East Carolina heads to Tulane in a battle of teams looking to make surprising challenges of the AAC’s upper tier. 

The Pirates have put up some gaudy point totals in wins, powered by the experienced arm of Holton Ahlers. However, they have two heartbreaking close losses to NCState and Navy. 

Tulane is likewise just a few plays away from an unblemished record, dropping only a heartbreaker to Southern Miss in compiling a 4-1 record that includes a win over Kansas State. 

East Carolina has to feel good about its performance on the season, and Tulane has been one of the most impressive Group of Five teams overall. Let’s see who will continue their winning ways on Saturday.

East Carolina Pirates

The Pirates are off to a nice start, with Ahlers compiling big-time stats in his 12th year at ECU (OK, it’s not really 12, but it sure feels like it. Ahlers will definitely be on your Perry Ellis All-Stars in the future).

Ahlers has been racking up impressive counting stats. He ranks 11th in the country in passing yards and has thrown 15 touchdowns to three interceptions. 

But despite these gaudy numbers, metrics don’t see this as a truly elite-level passing attack; it's more in the upper-middle of the pack for FBS.

ECU’s passing efficiency comes in at 35th in Beta_Rank, and its Passing Success Rate sits at 53rd. 

Running back depth could be a concern for the Pirates in this one. Leading rusher Keaton Mitchell (386 yards, 8.4 yards per carry) is one of the fastest players in the country.

Unfortunately for ECU, he was injured during the Navy game and missed last week’s contest against USF. His primary running mate, Rahjai Harris, was lost for the season in the USF contest. 

Mitchell is considered day-to-day, but head coach Mike Houston told the media he anticipates having him back this week for Tulane.

ECU’s defense sells out for big plays. It ranks No. 4 in the country in creating Havoc, but that gamble has a downside. The Pirates rank 113th in allowing explosive plays. This is at its worst on passing downs, when they rank 114th in explosive plays allowed. 

The Pirates defense has faced a number of ground-oriented attacks so far. NC State, despite having a star quarterback, prefers to establish the run.

They played Navy, which of course kept the ball on the ground. And South Florida ran the ball more than it passed against ECU despite a multiple-score deficit. These looks will have ECU prepared for Tulane's run-heavy attack.

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Tulane Green Wave

Tulane started the season by demolishing two overmatched foes — UMass and FCS Alcorn State. 

It then won two out of its three one-score matchups. First, the Green Wave stole a game against the Wildcats in Manhattan by completely icing the Kansas State offense. They shut out Deuce Vaughn and company in the second half without creating any turnovers. 

Then, they lost a heartbreaker to Southern Miss and then rebounded with two late-game touchdowns from backup quarterback Kai Horton to beat Houston in overtime.

Starting quarterback Michael Pratt is likely to return for this game. Pratt is only average as a passer but possesses a rushing ability that Horton doesn't. That skill set unlocks Willie Fritz’s rush-oriented attack.

Pratt has accumulated 115 rush yards on the season through scrambles and 118 through designed runs. Despite Horton’s Houston heroics, having Pratt will be critical for the offense’s success.

Tulane’s offense has struggled to finish drives this year, ranking 81st in that metric. Meanwhile, ECU’s defense is good at standing teams up in the short part of the field, ranking fourth in Defensive Finishing Drives. This could be something to note in a close matchup.

Despite not getting much pass rush, Tulane’s defense has excelled at keeping passing plays in front of it and preventing explosive plays, ranking in the top 10 in preventing explosiveness in passing downs and on all pass plays. 

East Carolina vs. Tulane Matchup Analysis

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

East Carolina Offense vs. Tulane Defense
Rush Success6316
Line Yards12568
Pass Success7153
Pass Blocking**65122
Finishing Drives4456
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Tulane Offense vs. East Carolina Defense
Rush Success7433
Line Yards7851
Pass Success6347
Pass Blocking**59130
Finishing Drives8117
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling6491
PFF Coverage5729
SP+ Special Teams12791
Seconds per Play26.6 (67)27.0 (80)
Rush Rate48.3% (98)59.6% (24)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

East Carolina vs. Tulane Betting Pick

This is an incredibly close matchup. Tulane has home field advantage, but ECU has the better quarterback. 

Both times are very similar in SP+. Tulane ranks 53rd on offense, and ECU is 58th. Tulane is 52nd on defense, while ECU comes in at 68th. Tulane enters at 91st in special teams, and ECU sits 127th.

ECU's risk/reward defensive style can be vulnerable to big plays, but Tulane doesn’t really create them. The Green Wave have played with fire a little bit, as they're 90th on offense in Havoc Allowed. Pratt also has six turnover-worthy plays on the season.

We already discussed ECU’s gambling style — it might be able to create a few turnovers here and swing the game. Combine that with Tulane’s struggle to finish drives, and I think the Pirates will score an upset.

I considered taking East Carolina on the moneyline, but I will instead take the points in one of the closest contests of the slate.

Pick: ECU +3.5 (Play to 3)

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