East Carolina Pirates vs. Ohio Bobcats (+14, 62)
BEEF 'O' BRADY'S BOWL STORYLINES:
1. Two experienced, productive quarterbacks bring high-octane offenses to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, Dec. 23. Junior Shane Carden threw 55 touchdown passes – 19 to standout junior receiver Justin Hardy -- in the last two seasons for East Carolina, which averaged 40.4 points this season. Ohio senior Tyler Tettleton recorded 66 scoring strikes in three years at the helm and the Bobcats scored 38 or more five times in the last nine games.
2. One key will be which team can get to the quarterback and disrupt the passing game. The Pirates have registered 35 sacks, tied for 14th in the nation, and allowed 28 while Ohio boasts 34 sacks and has given up 16.
3. East Carolina is looking to snap a four-game losing streak in bowls while trying to improve an 8-10 overall record. Ohio plays in its fifth straight bowl and has won the last two, including 45-14 over Louisiana-Monroe at the Independence Bowl in 2012.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: East Carolina opened -12.5 and is now -14. The total opened 61.5 and is up to 62.
ABOUT EAST CAROLINA (9-3, 6-2 Conference-USA): Hardy averaged 8.8 receptions – fifth in the nation -- for 1,218 yards and eight scores and is only 19 receiving yards shy of 3,000 in his career. If Ohio decides to devote extra attention to Hardy, receiver Isaiah Jones (54 receptions, 556 yards) or running back Vintavious Cooper (995 rushing yards, 11 TDs) can hurt the Bobcats. East Carolina, which owns victories over North Carolina and North Carolina State, is led on defense by senior LB Derrell Johnson (7.5 sacks).
ABOUT OHIO (7-5, 4-4 Mid-American): The Bobcats snapped a three-game losing streak by totaling 461 yards in a 51-23 home victory over Massachusetts in the regular-season finale. Tettleton has completed 33-of-48 passes for 551 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in his two bowl outings, and he'll look often for Donte Foster, who has 63 catches and 858 yards this season. Beau Blankenship, who ran for four touchdowns and 104 yards in last year’s bowl game, totaled 844 yards this season – 124 versus UMass – and owns 24 career rushing TDs.
* Pirates are 9-0 ATS in their last nine games following a S.U. loss.
* Bobcats are 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. CUSA.
* Over is 4-1 in Pirates last five Bowl games.
* Under is 6-1-1 in Bobcats last eight neutral site games.