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2022 Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina vs Coastal Carolina

2022 Birmingham Bowl

The 2022 Birmingham Bowl presents two teams at very different crossroads. For Coastal Carolina, it is the truest sense of the passing of the guard. And for East Carolina, they could polish off their best season since 2014. It also is the first time these two Carolina schools have ever met on the football field. If you are a college football fan seeking points, the 2022 Birmingham Bowl should not disappoint. Especially since one of the best quarterbacks in the country is surprisingly playing in this game.

How To Watch The 2022 Birmingham Bowl

Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Game Time: 6:45pm EST

Venue: Protective Stadium, Birmingham, AL

How To Watch: ESPN

Chanticleer Chaos

Coastal Carolina’s greatest stretch in program history is coming to its conclusion in the 2022 Birmingham Bowl. Head coach Jamey Chadwell left the program the day after the Sun Belt title game to become the head coach at Liberty. In less than a day, offensive coordinator Tim Beck was promoted to the head coach position. Chanticleer quarterback Grayson McCall, the greatest quarterback in program history, also made the announcement that he would be entering the transfer portal. And while many have presumed he would be following Chadwell to Liberty, McCall has yet to announce his decision. With Devin Leary announcing he is transferring to Kentucky, McCall is the number quarterback available in the transfer portal.

It isn’t all doom and gloom for the boys from Conway, South Carolina. McCall has said he is going to play in the bowl game. And if this offense is going to play up to its potential, McCall needs to be spearheading it. On the season, McCall has thrown 24 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He also added five rushing touchdowns. Remember, he scored those combined 29 touchdowns in only 10 games. McCall and this offense should feat on this East Carolina defense. The Pirates rank dead last in the FBS (131 of 131 teams) in passing defense.

In all but one game this year, East Carolina has surrendered at least 300 yards of offense along with 38 touchdowns in 12 regular-season contests. The problem for the team in teal is that their defensive rankings are not much better. In fact, the Chanticleers rank three spots below East Carolina (98th) in total defense. Coastal is allowing 412.6 yards per game and 6.4 yards per play. If the Chanticleers are going to win, it’s going to start and end with McCall.

East Carolina Defined Inconsistency

The Pirates had quite a ride this season. East Carolina demonstrated they were good enough to blow out UCF and win at BYU. But at the same time, they floundered against Navy and got destroyed by Houston. But there are a few things Mike Houston’s squad does pretty well. They normally dominate the turnover battle (8th-best nationally in turnover margin). In fact, ECU hasn’t turned the ball over since October 8th and has a total of eight games on the year with no turnovers. The Pirates are also great offensively on third downs (18th-best converting 46.5% of the time). They also commit very few penalties (third-least penalties committed nationally), so the Pirates aren’t going to beat themselves.

ECU has a fairly balanced offense, but just like Coastal, it starts with the quarterback. Holton Ahlers has 3,408 passing yards and 23 touchdowns on the season. The ground game has been led by Keaton Mitchell, a two-time first-team All-AAC running back. Mitchell has 1,325 yards, averaging 7.4 yards a carry, and 13 touchdowns rushing. The Pirates also have a playmaker at wide receiver in Isaiah Winstead. He has 1,013 yards receiving with four touchdowns this year in his first season since transferring from Toledo.

2022 Birmingham Bowl Prediction

While Coastal Carolina’s success in recent years has been noticeable, it really was just yesterday that they made the jump to the FBS level. After all, last year was the first time in which the Chanticleers won a bowl game. But there is too much drama swirling around this Chanticleer program. A new head coach during the bowl prep with a quarterback who is leaving after this game doesn’t equal a recipe for real focused practice. Not to mention, Coastal Carolina struggled over the last three games, in part because it turned the ball over seven times.

This will not bode well for a team that is excellent at protecting the ball. A leaky Coastal defense will only add to the difficulty in this one. East Carolina is 7-0 when scoring more than 27 points. Coastal Carolina allowed 27 points or more seven times this year. Make it eight times the Chanticleers yield four-plus touchdowns and an eight-win season for the Pirates.

East Carolina 38, Coastal Carolina 35


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