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UConn Football vs. ECU Open Thread: How to Watch, By The Numbers, Key Matchups

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Everything you need to get ready for UConn’s week 9 game!

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

KICKOFF: 12:00 p.m.

TV: ESPNews

ANNOUNCERS: Mike Couzens (play-by-play) and Dan Hawkins (color analyst)

RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network (WTIC 1080 AM, WILI 1400 AM, WAVZ 1300 AM, WGCH 1490 AM), SIRIUS 119, XM 201, XM 970 (Internet), TuneIn Radio app

ANNOUNCERS: Joe D'Ambrosio (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Ken Sweitzer (sideline)

POINT SPREAD: ECU -7.0

SERIES HISTORY: This is the third time the two teams have met and the home team has won both times. UConn beat the Pirates 31-13 behind Arkeel Newsome’s 179 yards and a TD.

Projections

Football Outsiders’ S&P+ projections favor East Carolina by a 3.4-point margin, giving the home Pirates a 57% chance of winning the game. F+/ likes UConn’s chances slightly better, with its projections averaging a 2.7-point ECU margin.

The Huskies have steadily dropped in the S&P+ rankings, currently sitting at 98th, with the offensive efficiency ranked 100th in the nation and the defense a disappointing 80th. East Carolina is ranked 90th, with the 59th-ranked offense and the defense ranked 100th.

By the Numbers

6 - UConn has only won six games on the road over the last five seasons, with the last road win coming against Tulane last season. East Carolina has one of the toughest home environments in the American with a .742 win percentage over the same period.

12 - The number of catches Noel Thomas needs to tie the school record for receptions in a single season. He has 76 on the season while Mark Didio holds the record with 88 in 1991.

64.52 - East Carolina’s red zone scoring percentage. Despite being the only team in the American to average over 500 yards-per-game, the Pirates have major issues scoring once they get inside the 20-yard line. This plays in perfectly to Bob Diaco’s bend-but-don’t-break style of defense but lately it has not been succeeding as much as we’d like this season as the Huskies have given up a number of 80+ yard drives.

-12 - The Pirates’ turnover margin, the worst in the conference by a mile. The next closest team is Tulsa at -3. UConn will need to force some turnovers to set up the offense with short fields.

3 - The number of points UConn scored after jumping out to a 13-0 lead early in the UCF loss. The first 15 plays, the scripted part, went well but once we got into situational playcalling, the offense sputtered as the Huskies let up a 24-3 run to end the game.

Photos-FB: UCF Knights @ UConn Huskies - 10/22/16 Ian Bethune

Key Matchups

Zay Jones vs. UConn secondary

The Huskies’ defensive weakness lies squarely in the secondary, where a shift by cornerback Jamar Summers to safety has put a band-aid on what was a very vulnerable back four. Obi Melifonwu has played well, but has also made critical errors on the field. Jones has 95 receptions for 909 yards on the season.

UConn O-line/Run game vs. ECU front seven

The offensive line actually had its best performance of the season despite the loss to UCF as Arkeel Newsome put up over 100 yards rushing with a solid 4.8 yards per carry. If UConn can move the ball well on the ground, it will open things up a bit in the passing game for people other than Noel Thomas to get involved, hopefully.

Prediction

‘This is a winnable game for UConn, and essentially a must-win situation as a loss means the Huskies would need to win out in order to reach bowl eligibility. Last time UConn visited Greenville, it was to visit a much better ECU team playing in front of a rowdy night game crowd. This is a noon game on ESPNews, but it's still ECU homecoming and both teams are still playing for their bowl hopes, however faint they may be (7/6% for ECU and 18.8% for UConn, per S&P+).

I think UConn takes the road win. Whether or not it leads to a turnaround of the season is still up in the air, but the Huskies were able to ignite their season last year in a similar situation against the Pirates. The defense has been disappointing lately but should be able to force some turnovers. Hopefully, that can jump-start the offense in what should be a fairly close game. The ECU defense is also not particularly stout so it should be less of a challenge than UCF was last week. UConn wins, 28-22