The East Carolina Pirates have already won one key road game in Conference USA's East Division. Now, they'll try to grab a second as they go to Orlando to face Central Florida. Let's see if we can't fatten up the piggy bank a little more.

NCAA Football Betting – East Carolina vs Central Florida Picks

East Carolina's first C-USA divisional road win this season came at Southern Mississippi and in earning that win, the Pirates established themselves as the main contender to Central Florida for the C-USA East championship.

Football+betting+ College+football+odds+PicksSouthern Mississippi is breaking in a new coach and a new quarterback this season, giving East Carolina an advantage in terms of continuity. Central Florida, though, is a more settled and established team than ECU is, making the Golden Knights a much more formidable obstacle for the Pirates.

This is a game with considerable division championship implications. It's a high stakes encounter, especially for the first Thursday in October – a night when the power conferences usually hog the spotlight in prime time.

The Pirates are a massive 14-point favorite on the betting lines as the odds makers expect them to cruise.

The Pirates can win because 

Their defense can certainly shut down Central Florida's offense. East Carolina beat Southern Mississippi 24-14. However, when one realizes that ECU scored seven of its points on a defensive touchdown in that contest, it can be said that the Pirates – by conceding 17 points and scoring seven – allowed a net total of only 10 points. This has to make McNeill – the former defensive coordinator at Texas Tech – very happy on the ECU sideline. 

Why can ECU shut down Central Florida? The answer is simple: UCF does not have much of an offense. The Golden Knights scored only 16 points this past weekend against Missouri and that was despite the fact that UCF controlled the run of play for most of the first half while limiting Missouri's time of possession. UCF also mustered only 16 points against Ohio State, showing that it does not deal with formidable talent in a particularly effective way. Since ECU's defense has already demonstrated its ability to shut down an opponent, it can do the same to Central Florida on this occasion.

The Golden Knights can win because

They're a tougher, stronger team than East Carolina. It's true that East Carolina's defense has been impressive at times in 2012 but Central Florida is the harder-hitting squad in this matchup. 

Head coach George O'Leary seems to struggle one year with UCF and then flourish the next. The results bear out that claim. UCF won the league in 2010 and then failed to make a bowl last season. This year, the Golden Knights should be in position to rebound. They are 2-2 after four games, which isn't great, but do keep in mind the toughness of their opponents (Missouri and Ohio State are not easy… not for C-USA teams).

UCF should be able to mentally gear up for this game and throttle East Carolina at home. 

Outlook & NCAA Football Betting Prediction: 

Favorites have a tendency to get wakeup calls on Thursday. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it’s the national audience. Last week, Stanford lost outright. The week before that, Boise State barely hung on (7-6) to beat BYU. Before that, Rutgers went into South Florida as a 10-point dog and won on Thursday night.

Playing at home and at night will lift Central Florida. Take the Golden Knights on a sleepy Thursday and put them on your ticket as one of this week's college football picks.

NCAA Football Picks: UCF -14