2013 Football Schedule Released

Conference USA released East Carolina's 2013 football schedule; Inside ECU Sports has the highlights of what the 2013-2014 season could bring.

2013 ECU Football Schedule:

Aug. 31 - vs. Old Dominion (0-0)

Sept. 7 - vs. *Florida Atlantic (0-0)

Sept. 14 vs. Virginia Tech (5-12)

Sept. 21 - Bye Week

Sept. 28 - at North Carolina (2-12-1)

Oct. 5 - at *Middle Tennessee (0-0)

Oct. 12 - at *Tulane (10-2)

Oct. 19 - vs. *Southern Mississippi (27-11)

Oct. 26 - Bye Week

Nov. 2 - at *Florida International (0-0)

Nov. 9 - vs. *Tulsa (5-5)

Nov. 16 - vs. *UAB (8-4)

Nov. 23 - at NC State (11-16)

Nov. 30 - at *Marshall (10-4)

*C-USA game, (Series record)

Dates and designations subject to change pending finalization of television scheduling.

Big Non-Conference Games

Next season's schedule holds a bevy of great opponents and should translate into some intense games. For starters, the third game of the season Virginia Tech comes to Greenville. VT, an ACC contender nearly every season, comes to Dowdy Ficklen on Sept. 14. This will be the fifth time in the past three seasons the Pirates have played Tech and fans will have to get used to seeing the Hokies as the teams will meet annually from now until 2020.

After their home game against Virginia Tech, the Pirates will have the first of their two bye weeks of the season. They will use this extra time to prepare for their road trip to UNC Chapel Hill on Sep. 28. This makes it the fourth straight season ECU will face the Tar Heels. Both teams come into the game as co-champions of their respective conferences last season. The Pirates have a 2-12-1 series record against the Tar Heels; they will look to improve on that come September.

ACC opponents will be a recurring theme next season as the Pirates will also face NC State at Carter-Finley Stadium Nov. 23. In their last four meetings, the teams have split the series. In each game the home team has emerged victorious; the last two ending in overtime. It's no secret that these two teams do not like each other; this next meeting marks the twenty seventh time the programs will have met since 1970.

New Opponents and Big Conference Games

The Pirates will face four new opponents next season. Old Dominion, the first new team ECU will face, comes to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Aug. 31 to kick off the season. The Pirates will also see three C-USA newcomers next season in Middle Tennessee, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

ECU finished 7-1 in C-USA last season. In 2013 the Pirates will be put to the test in order to repeat such a record. On Oct. 19 Southern Mississippi rolls into Dowdy-Ficklen stadium continuing the longest current series for ECU, with 38 games dating back to 1951. The Golden Eagles are a formidable opponent that the Pirates were able to beat 24-14 on the road last season.

Tulsa, last season's C-USA champion, will make their way to Dowdy-Ficklen on Nov. 19. The Golden Hurricanes won the AutoZone Liberty Bowl last season. They haven't faced the Pirates since Sept. 5, 2010 a game won by a Hail Mary to Justin Jones as time expired. That game was also Coach Ruffin McNeill's debut as head coach of East Carolina.

ECU will set sail for Marshall on Nov. 30 to end their season. The two teams have met in the last game of the season for two straight years; both games ending in overtime home wins for one team and crushed bowl dreams for the other. Last year the Pirates got the better of the Thundering Herd, with a six-touchdown performance from Shane Carden, three rushing and three passing. The final score was 51-49 Pirates.

Final Thoughts

The 2013 season has to be one of the most highly anticipated seasons in recent memory for the Pirates. The team ended last season on a tough note, losing to Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl by a score of 43-34. 2013 will be East Carolina's last season as a part of Conference USA; the Pirates will be joining the Big East as a football only member in 2014. With so many players returning next season, the Pirates are once again legitimate contenders for the conference championship game, a game they missed out on last season. With the schedule released the team can continue workouts and start Spring practice March 25 with their opponents in mind.

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