East Carolina Pirates (9-3) vs. Ohio Bobcats (7-5)
Dec. 23, 2 p.m. ET, St. Petersburg, Fla. (ESPN)
EAST CAROLINA PIRATES BREAKDOWN
For the seventh time in the past eight years, the Pirates are headed to a bowl game.
It wasn't too tough for East Carolina to reel off nine wins with an offense that ranked second in the conference, averaging 459.8 yards per game. The Pirates also scored 40.4 points per game and reached 30-plus points in nine games.
All year, the Pirates offense moved behind the arm of quarterback Shane Carden, who led the conference with 3,866 yards and was second in the league with 32 touchdowns. Carden eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark seven times and tossed three or more touchdowns seven times as well.
Helping Carden this season has been running back Vintavious Cooper, who has rushed for 995 yards and 12 touchdowns.
-- Edward Aschoff
OHIO BOBCATS BREAKDOWN
Ohio is headed to a bowl game for the sixth time in nine years under coach Frank Solich and for the fifth straight season. It won the first bowl game in school history in 2011 over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and followed with an Independence Bowl victory last year over Louisiana-Monroe.
Record-setting quarterback Tyler Tettleton, a third-year starter, struggled through November before leading Ohio to a season-ending victory over Massachusetts.
The Bobcats, after opening with a loss to Louisville, reeled off six wins in seven games, including a 34-31 thriller over Marshall on Sept. 14.
Solich's squad is well rounded, ranking third in the 13-team Mid-American Conference in total defense and sixth in total offense.
Running back Beau Blankenship and top receiving target Donte Foster, a second-team All-MAC pick, help carry the load offensively. Cornerbacks Devin Bass and Travis Carrie are strong in coverage and provide a threat in the return game. -- Mitch Sherman