Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Liberty Bowl Preview


Kentucky (6-6) vs East Carolina (9-4)
Liberty Bowl
Memphis, TN
January 2, 4:00 PM
All Time Series: Kentucky 1-0
All Time Bowl Records: Kentucky 7-5, East Carolina 8-6
Monday’s Line: East Carolina -3


Total Offense, Scoring Offense (National Rank):
East Carolina: 336.0 ypg (86th), 23.8 ppg (78th)
Kentucky: 298.4 ypg (105th), 22.4 ppg (87th)

Total Defense, Scoring Defense (National Rank):
East Carolina: 334.8 ypg (43rd), 20.8 ppg (31st)
Kentucky: 327.0 ypg (34th), 21.7 ppg (38th)

Friday’s Liberty Bowl will be just the 2nd meeting between these 2 schools all time, the other a 6-3 game in Lexington in 1993. With both teams sporting mediocre offenses and decent defenses, this game may not be too much higher scoring than that one was. Kentucky has lost 3 games in a row and 6 of 8 while ECU has 6 of 7, including knocking off Tulsa in the CUSA Championship game.

Kentucky will be playing this one without their starting QB, true freshman Randall Cobb. Cobb took over for Michael Hartline after the ‘Cats offense began to sputter in conference play. While Cobb was not spectacular, he did bring a level of excitement to the offense with his ability to tuck the ball and run. That dimension will be missed against a solid Pirates’ D.

After 2 weeks of football, the Pirates were the talk of the nation after knocking off West Virginia and Virginia tech to open the season. While they hit a rough patch – lost 3 in a row to NCSt, Houston, and Virginia, they’ve rallied nicely in the late season. QB Pinkney is steady – 2379 yards, 12/7 TD/INT ratio – particularly considering the ineptitude of the Pirates’ 84th ranked ground game.

The talk at the beginning of the season was about the UK D that only gave up a total of 22 points to its 4 non-conference foes. Once the SEC slate began – and the injuries mounted – the ‘Cats struggle on both sides of the ball, knocking off only Arkansas (in a miraculous Cobb-fueled comeback) and Mississippi State. East Carolina certainly has the momentum headed into this one.

When this one’s all said and done, the ‘Cat will just be too inept offensively to win this game. While it’s been a good story that this is only the 2nd UK team to play in 3 straight bowls, the simple fact is that they’re average at best on both sides of the ball. While the extra bowl practices this year will certainly pay dividends next season, it’ll be another bowl loss for the SEC this year.

East Carolina 17, Kentucky 13

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