UTSA’s season started with injuries and a 1-3 record, but they have since turned things around and have rattled off three straight wins. With their offense playing like one of the best in the country, the Roadrunners will look to keep their momentum rolling into this weekend when they play host to the ECU Pirates. With another weaker conference opponent coming into town, I’ll break down why UTSA is in a good spot to remain profitable for their bettors.
There are certainly a lot of low points in a season when your record is 1-6, but for East Carolina, the lowest of them all might be losing 10-7 to Charlotte at home. The 49ers snapped a five-game losing streak with that win, while the Pirates extended their losing streak to three. Not only did they extend their losing streak, but ECU is now ranked 130th in points (13) and yards (262) per game after just managing 127 yards in the loss.
Whether it’s on the ground or through the air, the Pirates' offense cannot find an ounce of momentum. With a rushing yards average that ranks 113th and a passing yard average that is 120th, ECU is now ranked 130th in offensive success rate. The two-quarterback system that the Pirates have been rolling out is not due to both players offering something different, but it’s because neither Alex Flinn nor Mason Garcia has done enough to solidify themselves as the starter.
Struggles to maintain drives and find the endzone are not what you want to have when heading on the road to play a UTSA team averaging 42 points per game over their last three games. Since returning from injury, quarterback Frank Harris is posting a 7:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, which has the Roadrunners ranked 40th in offensive success rate on pass plays.
The fast-paced UTSA offense has had no problem moving the ball downfield, which is evident with their 17th-ranked third-down-conversion percentage. Defensively, the Roadrunners are coming off their best performance this season, holding FAU to ten points and 162 total yards while also picking up five sacks and forcing two interceptions.
Amid their three-game win streak, UTSA enters this matchup as (-18.5) point favorites, and I’ll be backing them for my play. The Roadrunners look like an entirely different team than the one we saw at the start of the season, and with the rate at which they are scoring, it’s hard to imagine an East Carolina team that is 131st in offensive EPA will be able to keep pace with them.
The best aspect of the ECU defense has been stopping the run, as they rank 17th in EPA on run plays, but the same cannot be said about their pass defense. Allowing an average of 8 yards per pass, the Pirates are 115th in pass play EPA, which gives UTSA a significant advantage in that area since they are 53rd in EPA per pass plays.
Offensively, for the Pirates, I don’t see a situation where they can keep themselves in the game. ECU is 25th in pass play percentage, yet they are 127th in completion percentage and 133rd in yards per pass. Inconsistent quarterback play has cost the team any semblance of establishing a run game and any chance of hanging with a fast-paced offense.
UTSA Roadrunners (-18.5)