2022 ECU Pirates Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions


Mike Houston spurned Charlotte to become the head coach at East Carolina in the fall of 2018. It appeared that the decision might have been a bad one for both parties after Houston went 7-14 in his first two seasons with the Pirates, but the program finally turned things around last year and became bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. Unfortunately, the Pirates were unable to play Boston College in the Military Bowl because of a COVID outbreak, so Houston is out to lead the program back to a bowl game this season.

The Pirates have one of the most experienced signal callers in the country in Holton Ahlers. He will be a fifth-year starter this season. Ahlers has not been spectacular though, throwing no more than 21 touchdowns in his four previous seasons with East Carolina while struggling with his accuracy. The senior has proven to be tough by averaging nearly 100 carries a year during his time in Greenville, but he isn’t particularly mobile, and he takes a lot of punishment.

Updated on 09/25/2023
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Keaton Mitchell earned First Team All-AAC honors as ECU’s star running back in 2021. Mitchell ran for 1,132 yards (6.5 YPC) and nine touchdowns. He was significantly more effective than back-up Rahjal Harris who averaged just 3.5 YPC in this offense. A lot of Mitchell’s production came early in the season though, and he had just one 100-yard game in his last seven outings (against bottom feeder Temple). This ground game should still be solid though as three starters return, and East Carolina welcomes West Virginia transfer Parker Moorer and FCS All-American Justin Redd.

There are concerns about the receivers. Two of the three top receivers from last year have moved on, leaving C.J. Johnson as the leading returning wide out. Tight end Ryan Jones has shown some prowess, but Ahlers might have a hard time finding new targets.

East Carolina returns six starters in the front seven. That should lead to improvement for a run defense that surrendered 4.9 YPC in 2021. However, they lost their two leading tacklers and a star in the secondary in Ja’Quan McMillian. Size is an issue in the trenches too as none of the projected starters up front is listed at more than 280 pounds.

Malik Fleming is a solid cornerback, but this is likely to be a below average secondary without McMillian. They ranked in the top five in interception percentage and were a top 50 pass defense, and those numbers will fall.

On paper, it’s easy to buy into the Pirates. They return 15 starters and an experienced quarterback, so that has led to some observers calling them a dark horse in the AAC. They don’t go on the road until October, and the Pirates will be favored in three of their first four games (and possibly five of their first six).

However, the analytics say that East Carolina was fortunate in 2021. The Pirates ranked 79th in Offensive SP+ and 83rd in Defensive SP+, so they won one or two more games than they probably should have last season. Ahlers is going to be an injury risk in this offense, and neither the ground game nor the defense is as good as some believe.

Best Bet: Under 6.5 Wins (+120)


  • Sat., Sept. 3 - vs. N.C. State
  • Sat., Sept. 10 - vs. Old Dominion
  • Sat., Sept. 17 - vs. Campbell
  • Sat., Sept. 24 - vs. Navy
  • Sat., Oct. 1 - at USF
  • Sat., Oct. 8 - at Tulane
  • Sat., Oct. 15 - vs. Memphis
  • Sat., Oct. 22 - vs. UCF
  • Fri., Oct. 28 - at BYU
  • Fri., Nov. 11 - at Cincinnati
  • Sat., Nov. 19 - vs. Houston
  • Sat., Nov. 26 - at Temple


  • Over 6.5 (-140)
  • Under 6.5 (+120)
Holton Ahlers looks to lead ECU to a bowl game in 2022. (Getty)



The Pirates very well could be 5-1 at the halfway point of the season. Their first three AAC games are against three of the worst teams in the conference, and they shouldn’t have much trouble against either Old Dominion or Campbell. This schedule becomes a gauntlet in mid-October though as the Pirates play five straight games in which they will probably be underdogs before closing out the regular season against Temple. If the Pirates stumble out of the gate, it could be a long season in Greenville.



East Carolina finished 9th in 1991 after ending the season 11-1 with a Peach Bowl victory over North Carolina State. That team had the legendary Jeff Blake under center and beat three ranked teams during the year. The Pirates are probably never going to finish in the top ten again, as Blake was the greatest player in program history and the game has changed a lot.


The ECU Pirates do not have a Heisman contender to begin the 2022 season.


  • SU: 7-5
  • ATS: 7-5
  • O/U: 3-7-2
  • ATS-Home: 3-3
  • ATS-Road: 4-2
  • ATS-Favorite: 2-2
  • ATS-Underdog: 5-3