2015 Birmingham Bowl Preview

January 3, 2015
By K. Becks

The bowl season is winding down now, with just three more games on the schedule including the national title game.

It’s a sad time for me, but this year things are made easier by two things. The first is that the national champion will be decided by a playoff and the second is that my alma mater is playing in the final game.

To most today is for the NFL, but there is still one game on the slate in the college game.

Let’s take a look at the game being played on January 3.

Birmingham Bowl

East Carolina vs. Florida (Saturday, 12 PM ET – ESPN)

The Pirates were robbed a chance to be called co-champions of the AAC on the final play of their regular season but could still end the year on a high note by beating an SEC squad. Florida is the only team in college football to win six games and have a winning record (courtesy of a cancelled game at the beginning of the season), but the Gators would love to earn a victory and head into the Jim McElwain era with some momentum.

East Carolina is a senior laden squad, starting with its offensive playmakers. Senior quarterback Shane Carden, who leads the American Conference in passing yards, will look often to his favorite receiver Justin Hardy, another senior who leads the conference in receiving yards. The Pirates surprised people early in the season by being competitive with South Carolina, but the Gamecocks turned out to be much worse defensively than once believed. Contrarily, the Gators are the SEC’s No. 1 overall defense and have a secondary capable of shutting down East Carolina’s potent offense. However, Florida will still have trouble with the Pirates if the offense plays the way it has over the past several games. East Carolina can stifle the run game and Florida’s passing offense has been anemic.

The Pirates are a trendy pick to beat the Gators, who are by no means the most feared team in the reeling SEC. But Florida still has some athletes on the defensive end and should be able to slow down East Carolina’s offense. As bad as the top of the SEC has looked, the East Division has won all but one of its games this bowl season. Relative competition is definitely a factor, but the Pirates aren’t TCU or Ohio State either. I think that Florida has the talent to beat the Pirates and I have 27 points on the Gators to do so.

My Pick: 26-23 Florida

If you’d like to share your opinion on Around The Corn for any of the upcoming bowls, shoot me an email with your thoughts and prediction to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. You can also like Around The Corn’s Facebook page or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. As long as you send your thoughts at least two days before the game is to be played, I can assure you that your thoughts will show up in an article.

- K. Becks

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