The postponement of East Carolina’s game with Navy from Oct. 13 to Nov. 19 neatly divided the regular season in half for the Pirates, who have gone 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the American Athletic Conference thus far.
The six league games remaining will determine how ECU does in the AAC and whether the Pirates can reach the six-win plateau of bowl eligibility.
ECU will try to snap a four-game losing streak, the longest in the AAC, at Cincinnati on Saturday at 7 p.m. (CBSSN). In respect to the Pirates’ struggles since a 33-30 home win over N.C. State on Sept. 10, ECU also has the toughest schedule in the league, according to the Sagarin ratings, ranking 37th nationally in that regard.
Here’s a look at the remainder of the regular season matchups for the Pirates:
At Cincinnati, Oct. 22, 7 p.m.
The only team with a worse league record than the Pirates is the Bearcats, who are 3-3 overall and 0-3 in the AAC. Cincinnati has played No. 11 Houston, East Division leader South Florida and Connecticut on the road within the league.
Like the Pirates, the Bearcats have had an open date to regroup since falling 20-9 at UConn. Cincinnati managed just two yards rushing against the Huskies and is 11th in the 12-team league in points per game at 23.0.
Bearcats quarterback Hayden Moore completed 29 of 56 passes against UConn for 315 yards and will face an ECU defense that has recorded just one sack this season, a fact that Pirates coach Scottie Montgomery has attributed to the mobile abilities of quarterbacks ECU has faced this season.
The Pirates lead the series with Cincinnati 12-7 but the Bearcats have won five straight dating back to 2002.
Andrew Gantz, who kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired last season to give Cincinnati a 19-16 win on ECU’s Senior Day, has not kicked regularly after giving way to Josh Pasley because of a pulled leg muscle to start the season.
Gantz made a 47-yarder with 15 seconds remaining to give Cincinnati the lead in an eventual 54-46 home win in 2014. A trick play that backfired resulted in a fumble that was returned for a Bearcats score as the game ended.
That game was played at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Bengals, as renovations were being made to Nippert Stadium.
Cincinnati is back on its campus now and is 2-2 at home this season.
The Bearcats are second nationally in interceptions with 11 but are even on the season in turnover margin. ECU is a minus-9 for the year on turnovers, a factor that obviously needs to improve
Connecticut, Oct. 29
The Pirates probably have gotten a look at the Huskies already in examining tape of Cincinnati. UConn is 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the league after a 42-27 loss at South Florida on Saturday night.
ECU will be back home where the best crowd support in the league (46,974 per game this season) has the potential to be a deciding factor.
The Huskies have been plagued by slow starts this season, having been outscored 38-3 in the first quarter in 2016.
UConn overcame a 14-3 halftime deficit at USF to lead 17-14 before a second-half surge by the Bulls.
The Huskies host Central Florida this week before coming to Greenville.
Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, an N.C. State transfer, is among 10 returning starters on offense. Despite the experience, UConn is last in the league in points per game at 20.9.
The Pirates have been moving the football, averaging 523.2 yards per game in total offense, first in the AAC, but turnovers and struggles in the red zone have ECU scoring 29.2 points per game, which ranks ninth in the league.
ECU had four passes intercepted in a 31-13 loss at UConn last year. The Huskies are 0-3 on the road this season.
At Tulsa, Nov. 5
The Golden Hurricane finished inches away from a tying touchdown as time expired in a 38-31 loss at Houston on Saturday night, dropping Tulsa to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the AAC.
Dane Evans threw for 365 yards against the Cougars but the ground game has been the determining factor for the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa is 4-0 when rushing for at least 100 yards this season, 0-2 when it doesn’t get to triple digits on the ground.
The Golden Hurricane is averaging 38.0 points per game with a home game against Tulane this Saturday. Tulsa travels to Memphis on Oct. 29 before hosting ECU.
The Pirates lead the series 8-5 with a six-game winning streak that dates back to the 2008 Conference USA championship game at Tulsa.
Josh Hawkins’ 100-yard interception return in the first quarter helped swing the momentum to ECU in a 30-17 home win over the Golden Hurricane last season.
Southern Methodist, Nov. 12
A 43-40 overtime loss at Tulsa on Oct. 7 dropped the Mustangs to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the AAC.
SMU hosts Houston on Saturday after an open date.
The Mustangs lead the nation in interceptions with 13. SMU has shown some potential for offensive balance as Ben Hicks threw for 258 yards at Tulsa and Braeden West ran for 124 yards.
Getting started has not been a problem for the Mustangs who have scored first in all six games this season.
In similar fashion, SMU led the Pirates 23-7 in Dallas last year before ECU came back for a 49-23 win. James Summers ran for two scores and passed for one.
The Mustangs are last in defense in the AAC, yielding 454.8 yards per game.
Navy, Nov. 19
The Pirates could have some momentum as they play their second straight home game with the rearranged schedule.
The Midshipmen are 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the AAC after stunning Houston, 46-40, on Oct. 7 to knock the Cougars out of possible College Football Playoff contention.
Navy has won its last 13 home games, which includes a 45-21 triumph over ECU last season.
The Midshipmen graduated record-setting quarterback Keenan Reynolds from a team that went 11-2 overall in 2015 and 7-1 in the AAC.
Will Worth has stepped in at quarterback, throwing for two TDs against Houston and running for another. He had 115 yards rushing against the Cougars, who lead the league in total defense.
Navy has rolled in its last two trips to Greenville, winning 76-35 in 2010 and 56-28 in 2012.
The Midshipmen host Memphis (5-1, 2-0) on Saturday.
At Temple, Nov. 26
The Owls provided a bad memory with a 20-10 win over the Pirates in their last trip to Philadelphia in 2014.
Ranked No. 21 at the time, ECU lost five fumbles and fell despite leading, 428-135, in total yardage.
Temple played the heartbreaker role Saturday night as Phillip Walker drove the Owls for an 8-yard touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood with one second left to beat Central Florida 26-25.
The Owls upped their record to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the AAC with the victory.
Walker and Temple have a 2-0 record against the Pirates, having taken a 24-14 win in Greenville last season with a pair of fourth quarter scores to overcome a 14-10 ECU lead.
Walker connected with Robby Anderson for a 23-yard touchdown for the go-ahead score with 3:31 left to play.
The Owls went 10-4 last season, losing 32-17 to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl. The East Division winners fell to Houston 24-13 in the first AAC championship game. Six starters returned on each side of the ball from the 2015 team.
Weather was a factor the last time ECU went to Lincoln Financial Field — rainy, chilly and breezy — and the timing of this season’s trip could call for cold weather gear.
Temple hosts USF on Friday night in a key East Division contest.
The Owls have struggled to a degree on offense but have made up for it on defense. A 378 yards per game average on offense is 10th in the AAC but Temple’s 316.6-yard average on defense ranks second in the league.
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