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ECU and USC Try to Strengthen Their Case

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The East Carolina Pirates were sailing along with a 6-1 straight-up record and looked like they would have a shot at being a representative of the “small” conferences in a major bowl game. But they lost in a rain-soaked affair to Temple 12 days ago. So much for that. Now they must regroup and pay a visit to the Cincinnati Bearcats, who have been moving right along using either of their quarterbacks, Gunnar Kiel or Munchie Legeux. Shane Carden has impressed some America’s Bookie customers, and he is considered something of an NFL prospect, and he will operate here against a Cincinnati secondary that is ranked 116th in the country in pass efficiency defense. Also, the Pirates have covered nine of their last 10 against the college football odds following a defeat. With the extra time to get ready, they could prove a difficult bunch to handle. Kickoff is 7 PM ET, with the game rated as a pick’em, and the total at America’s Bookie listed at 71.5 points.

The problem with the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio is the fact that they have not been able to generate anything on offense, with a total of seven points over the last two games. And they are without their first two quarterbacks, making this a miserable second half of the season for coach Larry Coker, who has been rumored to be interviewing for the open job at SMU. If you recall, Coker had directed the Miami Hurricanes to a national title in his first year as a college head coach. Suffice it to say things have gone downhill from there. The Southern Mississippi Eagles have been without quarterback Nick Mullens, but this week he is returning from a foot injury, so at least there is a little encouragement as to what this once-proud program can do.

Mullins has not set the world on fire, but he has at least completed 60% of his passes and been sacked only 14 times in 289 attempts. Southern Miss, which allowed 63 points last week against Marshall, will be very relieved to see a rather dysfunctional offense in front of it. And this game will be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, which promises to be sparsely populated. UTSA is the seven-point favorite in the college football odds at America’s Bookie, and one has to think they’d have a hard time putting some distance between themselves and ANY opponent.

Out on the West Coast, the USC Trojans play host to the California Golden Bears, and they should turn out to be a nice duel between quarterbacks, as Cody Kessler of USC and Jared Goff of Cal have thrown 52 combined touchdowns with only six interceptions. The two coaches involved here are also known to be excellent offensive minds, as Steve Sarkissian opposes Sonny Dykes. California has not done much on the defensive end, allowing almost 40 points per game. But they seem to have risen to the occasion as a road team, covering all four on the road as the visitor. This ESPN-televised game gets underway at 9 PM ET, and Southern Cal is a 14-point favorite in the college football odds as they are posted at America’s Bookie. The over/under on this game may be worth looking at, as it is at 71 points. Will either team stop the other? Or will USC’s superior athleticism and running game generally take control?

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