ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Beef `O' Brady's Bowl
East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5), 2 p.m. ET. (ESPN)
Line: East Carolina by 14.
Series record: East Carolina leads 2-0
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Conference USA's East Carolina won five of six down the stretch and can finish with 10 wins, which would be the second-highest total in school history. Ohio of the Mid-American Conference received an invitation to the game at Tropicana Field, home of major league baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, because the American Athletic Conference was unable to fulfill the league's bowl commitments. The Bobcats are aiming for their third consecutive bowl win and to finish with eight or more victories for the fourth straight season.
East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden, who has completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,866 yards, 32 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while also scoring 10 TDs rushing, against the Ohio secondary. Cornerback Travis Carrie and safety Xavier Hughes each has four interceptions for the Bobcats.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
East Carolina: Wide receiver Justin Hardy leads the Pirates with 105 receptions for 1,218 yards and eight TDs. Running back Vintavious Cooper needs 5 yards rushing to reach 1,000 for the second straight years. He's also scored 12 TDs, 11 on the ground.
Ohio: Quarterback Tyler Tettleton has thrown for 2,623 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He owns 21 school records and is 103 yards shy of becoming Bobcats' first 9,000-yard career passer. Running back Beau Blankenship has rushed for 844 yards and five TDs.
FACTS & FIGURES
East Carolina is making its 19th bowl appearance, third in four seasons under fourth-year coach Ruffin McNeill. ... Six of Ohio's eight bowl appearances have come under coach Frank Solich, who took over the Bobcats in 2005. ... The Pirates and Bobcats have met just twice before, with East Carolina winning 55-45 at home in 1996 and 21-14 on the road in 1998. ... Ohio beat two Conference USA teams during the regular season, defeating North Texas 27-21 and Marshall 34-31. ... East Carolina lost to the only common opponent the teams faced, falling 59-28 at Marshall in its regular season finale.