Friday, September 12, 2008

Pirates Return To New Orleans

The New York Post line puts East Carolina -13 over Tulane- the exact same line as last year- which I must admit surprises me some. East Carolina seems better than 2007 version- and frankly, the Wave showed no signs of hanging with them last year. So why would they now?

This game isn’t so much about East Carolina. I mean, we all "get" the Pirates, right? They’re a class C-USA team- and they can score the ball. They’re not going to be intimidated by the ennui filled Dome- if anything, playing indoors on the fast track, probably moves them up some. And while East Carolina is coming off a pair of big efforts, which means they might struggle to pitch an "A" game here, they’re conversely also on a bit of roll. The Pirates have played two games of a shakedown cruise, versus one for Tulane. I can’t imagine they’re coming to New Orleans flat- and at this point in the season, having two games under your belt versus one effort means you’re still fresh but with twice the recent game experience to work out the kinks.

Still, the line is pretty generous. You need to sort out whether you think Tulane can duplicate its Alabama effort again. I’m pretty dubious. I don’t believe three and a half good quarters against Alabama actually equals "good"- just like two and a half good quarters against LSU last year ultimately was not determinant of the sort of squad Tulane fielded for the most of the season. Really, if the Wave can’t play an emotional, physical game over their heads last Saturday- when were they gonna play it?

And their defensive success is going to be very hard to duplicate. With Alabama, the Wave was able to load up against the run- and dare Alabama to throw the football- which Alabama was either unwilling or unable to do. The Tide was real one dimensional.

Conversely, East Carolina brings in the one thing our League does well- the lethal C-USA offensive machine behind center- the one that C-USA fans know all too well: high completion percentage, big play, touchdown machine. There is real C-USA firepower here- and the Wave defense could play well and still allow thirty-plus points.

Ultimately, I just don’t believe Tulane is all that better than the Green Wave team that these same Pirates drilled badly last year. Tulane scored twelve last year- and might be hard pressed to better that number here- while again, I can see East Carolina playing a game into the thirties on offense. Part and parcel of having Tulane at three wins is a belief that they’re simply not in the class of East Carolina.

We hit last week- as Tulane garnered a backdoor cover versus the Crimson Tide. Last year we took Tulane to cover in this spot- got beat- and we're not making that mistake again. We’ll look to run our mark to 2-0 by taking the Pirates here and giving Tulane the 13-point headstart.

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