ECU To Face Florida in Birmingham Bowl
After their sour finish to the regular season against Central Florida, the Pirates learned they would indeed get another shot at the Sunshine State in a bowl game. East Carolina (8-4, 5-3 AAC) announced Sunday that it has accepted an invitation to the Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., to face the University of Florida (6-5, 4-4 SEC) of the Southeastern Conference. The game will be held at Legion Field, the home of recently cancelled football program, UAB, on January 3 and is set to kick off at noon on ESPN. The Pirates and Gators’ one and only meeting was in 1983 — a 24-17 Florida victory — but the two schools agreed earlier this year to meet on Sep. 12, 2015. ECU possesses a 6-24 all-time record against SEC opponents; five of the six wins were against South Carolina and the other was against one of the conference’s newer members, Missouri. "We are looking forward to the challenge of playing Florida, a program rich in tradition out of a conference which has our highest respect," fifth-year ECU Head Coach Ruffin McNeill said in a statement Sunday. "We are excited to have another opportunity to accomplish something special for this senior class, especially against a team the caliber of the Gators." Jan. 3rd’s clash will mark the second time the Pirates have played a bowl game at Legion Field, the other time being a 24-7 loss to now fellow American Athletic Conference member South Florida in the 2006 Papajohns.com Bowl, and the fourth played in the state of Alabama, which includes a pair of losses in Mobile, Ala., to TCU and Marshall. These are not the Gators of past years, though. The program has recently not measured up to the success it enjoyed under Urban Meyer, who won two national titles during his time in Gainesville, Fla. As a result of the team’s shortfalls, Florida fired head coach Will Muschamp following its loss to in-state rival Florida State to close the regular season, then quickly replaced him with the hiring of Colorado State coach Jim McElwain. ECU spokesman Tom McClellan told Inside ECU Sports that McNeill, who will be looking to capture bowl victories at his alma mater for the first time since the Pirates began competing in Division I, is expected to hold a press conference Monday afternoon and that the team would begin practicing again Friday.
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