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Logan: Pirates hope to muddy league race


Associated Press

GREENVILLE (AP) — Steve Logan's primary job is East Carolina football coach, but he'll also take on part-time work this weekend as a travel agent of sorts for Conference USA's postseason.

The Pirates (3-6, 3-2 C-USA) have a home date against No. 22 Texas Christian in a league matchup that will have a bearing on the conference standings and bowl bids.

C-USA's champion goes to the Liberty Bowl. The next four teams also have a shot at a bowl, given they're bowl eligible.

The Horned Frogs (8-1, 5-1) are atop the league, just one game ahead of Louisville, Southern Mississippi, Cincinnati and Alabama-Birmingham.

If East Carolina can get the upset victory, it would put the standings in chaos with precious little time left in the year. The top six teams would each have two losses in C-USA play, including East Carolina.

"In November, it's like that for everybody," Logan said. "It doesn't matter if you're on the top of the heap, bottom of the heap or in the middle. In November, every game really takes on a bigger, larger significance every weekend."

Logan places all the pressure on TCU coach Gary Patterson's team, which is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak after an opening-day conference loss at Cincinnati.

"They've got a lot riding on it coming in here," he said. "As it sits right now, because of the fact we have three more games in conference — everybody else mostly has one or two left — we really have a lot to say about how this thing is going to settle."

The Pirates have games remaining at Southern Mississippi and at home against Cincinnati.

Patterson says going to Greenville is the least of his worries.

"I think we play better on the road because we focus on the game and we only count on each other," he said. "We don't have any distractions with family members or friends wanting tickets or anything else. All we have is ourselves. We show up with helmets and pads, we put them on and we go about our business. We are a very business-like group."

And business has been good.

The Horned Frogs are in the top 25 in part because of the work of running back Lonta Hobbs. The freshman collected 73 yards against Houston in his first college competition. Then came 80 yards and two touchdowns against Army and his first 100-yard performance against Louisville.

However, Patterson is looking for a little more after scraping past Tulane, 17-10.

"Against Tulane, we did everything right except get in the end zone. We hurt ourselves with penalties when we got inside the 30-yard-line," he said. "We will not be able to do that on the road. Sometimes, you can get away with it at home, but not on the road. We have to make the most of our opportunities on offense and score touchdowns, not just field goals."

Patterson expects to need more than the one touchdown his team got against the Green Wave — and that was the result of a blocked punt.

"If you want to beat East Carolina, you have to outscore them," he said. "Their record doesn't have anything to do with their offense. South Florida is the only team to go into their place and beat them and they had to score 45 to do so."

If TCU can't find the points, C-USA's football title chase will turn into a knot of teams trying to reach the top, all with two losses.

"That would be a conference commissioner's nightmare," Logan said. "We'll see if we can accommodate him."

02/23/2007 10:51 AM

Copyright 2002 Associated Press.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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