CFB Win Totals: Expect East Carolina To Reach 7-Win Mark Again

East Carolina was one of the most surprising Group of Five teams in 2021.

The Pirates come into the 2022 campaign with a bit of expectations for the first time in a while with two stars returning on offense.

Life in the American Athletic Conference is not easy for anyone, but East Carolina has a predictable path to its second seven-win season in a row and a spot in the second tier of the conference beneath Cincinnati and Houston.

In fact, East Carolina could end the regular season as the third-best AAC team if everything goes right, and some of the close road losses from last season turn into victories.

East Carolina 2022 Schedule

September 3: vs. NC State

September 10: vs. Old Dominion

September 17: vs. Campbell

September 24: vs. Navy

October 1: at South Florida

October 8: at Tulane

October 15: vs. Memphis

October 22: vs. UCF

October 28: at BYU

November 11: at Cincinnati

November 19: vs. Houston

November 26: at Temple

The Bet: Over 6.5 Wins (+120)

East Carolina possesses two qualities I like to see in teams when breaking down win totals. Returning stars and a schedule that plays in its favor for at least one half of the season.

The Pirates return quarterback Holton Ahlers, who was a 3,000-yard passer last season, and running back Keaton Mitchell, who had 1,132 rushing yards in 2021.

Returning experience at quarterback and running back is vital for a team to build on a season that it has not gone through in a while. East Carolina's last seven-win season before 2021 came in 2014.

The Ahlers-Mitchell combination puts the Pirates into the top half of the AAC on their own and the early-season calendar could help them maintain the momentum gained from last season.

East Carolina has a tough home opener against NC State, but it welcomes Old Dominion, Campbell and Navy in three games that should go down as wins.

The following road trips to South Florida and Tulane should be victories, as well as the season-ending trip to Temple. That puts the Pirates at six wins and only one needing to come against a top-tier opponent to clear the regular-season win total.

ECU gets Memphis and UCF at home, then plays at BYU and Cincinnati and returns to Greenville to play Houston in a six-week stretch that begins on October 15.

The six-game stretch will define East Carolina's season. The Pirates could outperform expectations by picking up three or more wins, tread water at 2-3, or fall apart and drop most of those games.

It is not crazy to think East Carolina could steal one of the road games at BYU or Cincinnati if it improves on its performance on its travels from last season.

ECU took Houston to overtime, lost by four to UCF and beat Memphis in an extra frame in its toughest road games last season.

Not only do those performances show that the Pirates could be competitive on the road, but it displayed they could match the performance of the top programs in the AAC, which may lead to more belief in beating any of them home or away in 2022.

The defense is the one significant worry about the Pirates. They conceded over 30 points to Cincinnati, Houston and Navy and allowed 29 points versus Memphis in four of their last six games in 2021.

If the defense cleans things up in a few games, East Carolina will be more competitive with Ahlers and Mitchell running the offense.

There is a lot to like about ECU going into 2022 and it only has to match its production from last season to cash the win total. Count me in for that and even a bit of improvement from the Pirates.

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