Led by fifth-year quarterback Holton Ahlers and star half back Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina’s offense is balanced and explosive. In order to win tomorrow, the Bearcats have to be locked in and limit big plays.
Ahlers has 2,632 passing yards and 18 touchdowns this season but Mitchell is the driving force. Despite missing multiple games, Mitchell has a conference-high 863 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
East Carolina averages 32.3 points and 467.2 yards per game behind a spread offense that can line up from several different formations. During a 3-game win streak, the Pirates are averaging 36 points.
After nearly pulling off an upset over NC State in the season opener, East Carolina has notable wins over BYU, Memphis and UCF. Even with two losses in AAC play, the Pirates could reach the title game.
Cincinnati Football: East Carolina’s balanced offense will challenge the Bearcats
Both programs are vying for second place in the AAC standings and need a win to remain in the title race. Cincinnati is favored by 5-points per WynnBET but East Carolina has a shot to end the home win streak.
If the Bearcats can contain Mitchell, Ahlers will lean on wide receiver duo Isaiah Winstead and CJ Johnson. In a weekly press conference, Luke Fickell discussed Mitchell’s dynamic ability via Cincinnati Athletics.
"“He’s a difference maker and that’s why he’s leading the league in rushing. You can see the long runs where he can circle the defense because of his electric speed and quickness but there are plenty of shots where he hits it right up the middle. He had a long one against BYU right through the A-gap. They have a really good 1-2 punch where he can take it outside and make things happen but he’s not afraid to stick it up the middle. I think with the other guy getting hurt a little bit put some more onus on him and that might be a better thing for them. Get the hot hand going a little bit and get him more opportunities. Where everybody would say they are a team that slings the football, they also have the leading rusher in the league. That’s what makes them who they are and makes them so good.”"