Previewing the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina
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This is the preview for the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 27, 6:45 p.m. ET
Protective Stadium (Birmingham, AL)
Betting splits: 70% of handle, 48% of bets on East Carolina -8
Coaching changes always throw handicapping wrinkles into the bowl season. Coastal Carolina’s situation has been especially hard to read after Jamey Chadwell left for Liberty in early December. Chadwell, who coached the Chanticleers to a 31-6 record the past three seasons, was replaced by former North Carolina State offensive coordinator Tim Beck. Chadwell’s exit came a week before quarterback Grayson McCall announced on December 12th that he was entering the transfer portal. It was assumed McCall would not play in this bowl, so bettors pounced, and Coastal Carolina soared as high as a 14-point underdog. McCall clarified his intention to stay and play one more game—which is an odd scenario, to say the least—and the line moved back to East Carolina -8. McCall completed 69% of his passes with 24 touchdowns and two interceptions this season, making him one of the hottest quarterbacks on the open market. McCall and the Chanticleers were blown out by Troy 45-26 in the Sun Belt title game.
East Carolina stumbled down the stretch and dropped two of its last three games, including a 42-3 loss to Houston. Prior to their late skid, the Pirates put together an impressive three-game winning streak against Memphis, Central Florida and BYU. Most of East Carolina’s shortcomings are on defense. The offense is in good hands with quarterback Holton Ahlers and running back Keaton Mitchell, who rushed for 222 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-46 win at Temple to wrap up the regular season. Ahlers has completed 67% of his passes for 3,408 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions.
Dr. Phil would have a hard time handicapping the mental state and motivation of the Chanticleers, who lost their coach and will soon be losing their quarterback. Assuming the weather is fine, and McCall actually sticks with his plan to start in this game, it might be safer to look OVER the total, which has moved from 58.5 to 62.5. Both defenses are struggling, and the quarterbacks are capable of putting a lot of points on the board.— Matt Youmans
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