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Beef O'Brady's Bowl: Preview, Predictions, TV info

By J. Darin Darst | Staff Writer

What: Beef O'Brady's Bowl

Who: East Carolina (9-3, 6-2 Conference USA) vs. Ohio (7-5, 4-4 Mid-American)

When: Monday, Dec. 23, 2 pm ET (ESPN)

Where: Tropicana Field (28,453), St. Petersburg, Fla.

Opening Line: East Carolina -13 1/2

What matters: Frank Solich has done a wonderful job at Ohio, guiding the Bobcats to their sixth consecutive bowl game, including victories in the past two. The end of the season has been a bit of a disaster, so he'd like to close out with a victory. East Carolina was favored to win Conference USA, but came up short after losing to Marshall 59-28. So this is a nice consolation to earn its first 10-win season since going 11-1 in 1991.

Who matters: East Carolina has a high-powered offense that can score on the ground and through the air with quarterback Shane Carden (3,866 yards passing, 32 TDs) and running back Vintavious Cooper (995 yards rushing, 11 TDs) leading the way. The Pirates surpassed 50 points four times, including a 63-point performance against UAB. Tyler Tettleton had a pretty good season as a senior with 2,623 yards passing and 20 TDs. Beau Blankenship was a bowl game hero last year with his four scores against Louisiana-Monore, so look for him to try to repeat that this year.

Matchup question: How will East Carolina wide receiver Justin Hardy (105 receptions) do against Ohio's 28th-ranked pass defense? Travis Carrie led the Bobcats with four interceptions and will probably be on Hardy most of the game.

Prediction: Ohio ended the season losing three of its last four, including being blown out 30-3 at Buffalo and 49-0 at Bowling Green. East Carolina can score and that might be a problem for Ohio to keep up. East Carolina 38, Ohio 24

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