Who Makes These Lines?

by Billy Weaver

Wake Forest a 13-point favorite over East Carolina? You've got to be kidding me! I guess it's time for the Pirate players to put that chip back on their shoulders and time for me to contact a bookie.

Let's take a look at the scenario. Wake Forest heads into the game with an 0-2 record having lost the season opener to Vanderbilt at home followed by a road loss at Nebraska. East Carolina is 1-0 after beating Duke in their opener and the Pirates head to Winston-Salem this weekend on the heels of an off week. Sure, Duke is a bad football team. The Blue Devils were slapped around by Virginia Tech at home last Saturday but the bottom line for the Pirates is that a win is a win. And yes, Vanderbilt is better than anyone expected having followed up their win at Wake  Forest with an even bigger win at Arkansas.

It just doesn't add up to 13 points for Wake Forest. Let's take a closer look.

Wake Forest has moved the ball very well in their first two games of the season. The Demon Deacons currently lead the ACC in rushing, are third in first downs and rank in the middle of the pack in total offense. All-ACC running back Chris Barclay is back from his suspension and Micah Andrews leads the league in rushing but of course that's to be expected after he hung 254 yards on Vandy. Andrews came back down to Earth last week with 64 yards against Nebraska and Barclay didn't exactly light up the scoreboard in his season debut. As for the ECU running game, there's lots of potential but still a lot to be desired. ECU racked up just 103 yards on the ground against Duke. Advantage Wake Forest. That's worth about 3 points.

Defensively the Pirates played great against Duke. Granted they did give up 21 points to a bad team but they created four turnovers and should have had at least a couple more. As for Wake Forest, they are giving up an average of 27 and a half points a game but that number is very misleading. Wake's offense allowed Nebraska's defense to score 21  points. The Demon Deacons have a very good defensive line, serviceable linebackers and an above average secondary. I give a slight advantage to Wake's defense and for the sake of somehow figuring out where 13 points comes from, I give the Wake "D" 1 point.

Wake Forest leads the overall series 5-2 having won the last four meetings. The confidence factor by the Wake Forest players alone is worth 1 point. East Carolina has never won in Winston-Salem but every time they've played Wake west of I-95 the Pirates have managed to bring a very large number of fans. I would give a team like West Virginia 2 points for the home field advantage but in this case it will almost be like playing the game on a neutral field. Wake gets 0 points for playing at home.

So that adds up to 5 points. I could continue to break down the two teams and find a strengths and weaknesses on both side of the ball, but the bottom line is that no matter how you break it down it just doesn't add up to 13 points!

That's the good news for Pirate fans. The bad news is that the odds makers are never that far off and they always seem to find a way to amaze me.

I never bet against the Pirates and I won't start this weekend. I'm taking ECU and I want the 13 points!

Billy Weaver