NCAA Football: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. East Carolina Pirates Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 11, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: Noon ET, Sept. 11, 2021
Venue: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC
Where to watch: ESPN 2

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: ECU -2.5; O/U 55; ECU -130, South Carolina +115
Caesars: ECU -2; O/U 55; ECU -135, South Carolina +115

Season record
South Carolina: 1-0
East Carolina: 0-1

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South Carolina - East Carolina preview and analysis

Recent form
South Carolina: won 46-0 vs. Eastern Illinois on Sept. 4
East Carolina: lost 33-19 at Appalachian State on Sept. 2

It’s been a few rough years for the East Carolina Pirates football program. For about nine minutes, things looked promising.

Then ECU realized it was playing Appalachian State Mountaineers and all hope was gone. The Pirates lost 33-19 in their season opener and it could’ve been worse had it not been for 10 late points. Tough beat for those who had ECU at +9.

The books seem to be fond of ECU enough at home for a matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks, with the SEC squad opening at -2 in some books and already hovering -3.

ECU jumped to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter off a 63-yard touchdown pass to Keaton Mitchell from Holton Ahlers. After that, the Pirates struggled against the perennial powerhouse from North Carolina.

Ahlers finished 22-of-40 for 295 yards and two touchdowns, but that was the bulk of the Pirates’ offense. East Carolina finished with 381 total yards, only 86 of them came on the ground through 24 carries. Twelve of them were from the ECU quarterback.

The Pirates’ run defense didn’t stand a chance against App State. Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples combined for 226 yards and two touchdowns, totaling to 6.3 yards per carry. It’s a sign that ECU’s defense has not carried over to this new season; the Pirates gave up 35.4 points per game and 201.3 yards on the ground. This is a team that has to contend with the likes of Cincinnati, Memphis and the likes in the American conference.

Now they’ll face a South Carolina team that ran for 258 yards on Saturday in a 46-0 shutout over Eastern Illinois at Williams-Brice Stadium, a good start for new head coach Shane Beamer. Tony Romo’s alma mater got smoked by the Gamecocks, being outgained 443-109. ZaQuandre White had 128 of those rushing yards on 12 carries, while scoring a touchdown.

S.C. grad transfer Zeb Noland threw for 121 yards and four touchdowns in a game that was never close. But if the Gamecocks can run like that and not need much from their veteran quarterback, this should be an easy win.


Gameplan for the Gamecocks is the same: Do what you did last game. Run the ball, control the clock, and get out of there with a win. Gamecocks win 34-13.

Betting trends

South Carolina is 7-16 in its last 23 games straight up.

The under is 5-1 in East Carolina’s last six games.

Players to watch

South Carolina: The Gamecocks went with a three-back rotation after White. MarShawn Lloyd had 14 carries for 55 yards, and Juju McDowell added 46 yards on 12 carries.

East Carolina: The ECU offense has shown to go through Keaton Mitchell. He’s coming off a five-catch, 79-yard performance with a touchdown against App State.

Statistical leaders

South Carolina:
Passing: Zeb Noland -- 121 yards, 4 TD
Rushing: ZaQuandre White -- 128 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: ZaQuandre White -- 39 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Damani Staley -- 4 tackles

East Carolina:
Passing: Holton Ahlers -- 295 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Keaton Mitchell -- 50 yards
Receiving: Keaton Mitchell -- 79 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Ja’Quan McMillian -- 10 tackles

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All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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