ECU chooses Beef 'O'Brady's

ECU will be facing Ohio University in the Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl on Dec. 23. Here is more including thoughts from Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill.

East Carolina (9-3, 6-2 Conference USA) accepted an invitation to the Beef ‘O'Brady's Bowl Sunday according to an announcement by bowl officials and Conference USA. Its opponent will be the Ohio University Bobcats (7-5, 4-4 MAC) of the Mid-American Conference.

The game will be held at Tropicana Field – the home of the Tampa Bay Rays – on Monday, Dec. 23 and broadcast on ESPN. Kick-off time is set for 2 p.m.

ECU has met the Bobcats twice in the all-time series and won both meetings in 1996 and 1998 respectively. The teams' lone common opponent this season is Marshall, who beat the Pirates during their last time out 59-28 on Nov. 29. Ohio defeated the Thundering Herd 34-31 on Sep. 14.

"While it is an honor to compete in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, the opportunity to take our team and Pirate Nation to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area will make this trip even more exciting," ECU coach Ruffin McNeill said. "We're looking forward to the challenge of accomplishing a 10-win season, something that has only been done once in the history of our program, and allowing a special group of seniors a chance to play for a bowl championship."

This will be McNeill's third bowl appearance since taking over the reins at his alma mater in 2010. He lost his first two bowl games against Maryland (Military Bowl) and Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl).

The slump dates back to the Skip Holtz era for ECU. In fact, its last bowl triumph was against Boise State in the 2007 Hawaii Bowl. Since then, the Pirates have lost their last four bowl games.

ECU has appeared in a pair of bowls held inside the sunshine state – the 1964 and 1965 Tangerine Bowls – and won each of them. Also, it traveled to Miami earlier this season and prevailed 31-13 against Florida International. In a recruiting hot-bed, McNeill understands the importance of creating visibility in Florida.

"We hit each area hard. Florida is a big area and it's great to play a game in that area. It brings attention to our team," McNeill told reporters Sunday. "Our name and what we bring to the table is out there in a very positive manner. Playing in Florida will be … awesome because we have recruits that are (already) here, players that are from there and recruits that we are attacking right now and trying to get here."

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