First year head coach Tony Levine leads his Houston Cougars into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium with a 4-4 record and having won four of its last five games. The offense has scored at least thirty-five points in each of its last five games.
Houston has played really well offensively," said ECU head coach Ruffin McNeil,"so we know that we will need to be prepared for those guys and have all our energy and focus on them. The Pirates lead the all-time series 6-5 but the Cougars won last year's meeting at Robertson Stadium 56-3, with Case Keenum passing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Playing in the shadow of Keenum and taking over the reigns at quarterback is sophomore David Piland, who has thrown 12 touchdown passes and about 2,500 yards this season. He has been turnover prone though, tossing nine interceptions.
Though the offense Houston runs is a very similar version of ECU's Air Raid, the Cougars have a dangerous weapon in the backfield in junior running back Charles Simms.
Simms, who was a key cog in the Cougars' offense that led to last year's lop-sided win, averages over six yards per rush and has scored 11 touchdown runs this season.
The Pirates may be without running back Michael Dobson and center Taylor Hudson, who are both listed as questionable but it appears that Brian Mitchell's defense will get linebacker Montese Overton back, who is listed as probable.
The silver lining in last weekend's game for the Pirates is their running game. Vintavious Cooper notched 121 yards on the ground while Reggie Bullock, who returned to the backfield after missing three games, found the endzone twice.
Either way you look at it, Saturday's game is a pivotal game for the Pirates. If they lose, they may find themseleves limping into bowl contention as they did in 2010. If ECU wins, they will be bowl eligible and have a big win under their belt going into winnable games against Tulane and Marshall to close the year.
Prediction: I think it's going to be a very closely contested matchup. But in the end, I think the Pirates bounce back on their home field and find a way to come out on top.
East Carolina- 34, Houston-31.