Notebook: Huge Road Game for Pirates

East Carolina faces a tough West Virginia squad this weekend. The Pirates will be looking to pull off the huge upset.

East Carolina will face off against its third BCS member in the last four games (and fifth in the last six) when the Pirates travel to Morgantown to meet No. 5 West Virginia at Mountaineer Field/Milan Puskar Stadium for a 12 noon nationally-televised non-conference matchup. The meeting against WVU will also open a two-game road swing for ECU, who will return to C-USA play next week when it visits defending champion Houston. After opening the season by splitting a pair of contests against Atlantic Coast Conference members Virginia Tech and North Carolina, the Pirates will look to bounce back from a 28-21 league setback against Southern Miss last Saturday.

West Virginia utilizes a spread offensive attack while employing a 3-3 stack defensive alignment. ECU will line up in a multiple offense and use a multiple look when defending.

Since joining Conference USA in 1997, East Carolina has recorded a 25-40 (.385) mark when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... The Pirates' top mark since ‘97 was a 5-2 road record in 1999 (wins over WVU,South Carolina, Miami, Army and Houston) ... The Pirates won three of six regular season games in ‘06 (wins at Southern Miss, UCF and NC State; losses at Navy, UAB and Rice), but closed the year with victories in three of the last four before play in the Bowl ... So far in ‘07, ECU is 0-1 after falling 17-7 at Virginia Tech Sept. 1.

East Carolina has always been able to claim plenty of hometown support, even moreso when playing at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday's during the fall - establishing itself as one of CUSA's attendance leaders on an annual basis ... In all, a total of 5,606,224 fans have seen the Pirates in action since 1963 - an average of 25,599 per contest ... So far in the Skip Holtz Era, ECU has averaged 36,513 (474,664/13 games) ... ECU opened its 2007 home schedule by drawing 43,387 fans to the North Carolina game and 43,014 to the Southern Miss contest, which ranked as the fourth and fifth-highest totals in stadium history, respectively ... In fact, ECU has drawn four of Dowdy-Ficklen's Stadium top 10 crowds since Holtz took over the program (40,510 vs. WVU/ 41,372 vs. Marshall in ‘06) ... The Pirates averaged 37,168 fans per game at home last season and set a new single-season stadium total attendance record of 223,006 ... East Carolina has established back-to-back season ticket sales records, recently reaching the pinnacle in mid- August when it sold out of its entire 22,000 stock.

East Carolina has compiled an all-time record of 23-39 (.371) against current members of the Big East Conference ... In addition to the Pirates' 2-16 mark against West Virginia, ECU is also 12-5 against Cincinnati, 4-6 vs. Louisville, 3-6 vs. Syracuse, 2-2 vs. Pittsburgh and 0-4 against USF ... The Pirates have never faced Connecticut or Rutgers on the gridiron.

West Virginia has rolled to a 32-6-1 (.833) all-time mark against current members of Conference USA ... In addition to the Mountaineers' 16-2 record against ECU, WVU also has winning ledgers against Marshall (7-0), Tulane (4-2), UCF (2-0), SMU (1-0) and Tulsa (1-0) ... Rice is the lone league squad which has bettered West Virginia - winning its only matchup while UTEP has "split" three games (1-1-1) ... WVU has never faced Houston, Memphis, Southern Miss or UAB in football.

Southern Miss 28, East Carolina 21
Southern Miss quarterback Jeremy Young's pair of fourth-quarter scoring runs, the last coming with just 32 seconds remaining, staved off a furious East Carolina comeback and handed the Golden Eagles a win in the Conference USA opener ... Trailing 14-0 at the half, the Pirates rallied to score three touchdowns in a 6:01 span to take a 21-14 lead with 2:34 left in the period ... ECU shook off a sluggish opening 30 minutes in which it managed just 89 total yards before using a 14-play, 70- yard drive on its first second-half possession to get on the scoreboard when Patrick Pinkney connected with Dwayne Harris on a 20-yard strike ... Linebacker Quentin Cotton picked off a Young pass on USM's next possesion and returned it to the one-yard line to set up a Dominique Lindsay's game-tying TD plunge ... After forcing the Golden Eagles to ‘three and out' on their next series, Pinkney capped a 59-yard drive with a six-yard scoring pass to Chris Johnson for a 21-14 Pirate lead ... Southern Miss quickly answered, using a pivotal Young-to-Damion Fletcher 48-yard pass completion on a third-and-15 play at the USM 35-yard line to fuel an 80-yard scoring march and even the contest with 14:36 left ... After two stalled Pirate fourth-quarter possessions, USM went on a clock-killing 80-yard drive that consumed 6:08 and ended with Young's one-yard keeper for the game-winner ... Fletcher led all ground gainers with 111 yards on 27 carries while Young added 237 yards on 18-of-28 passing ... Pinkney, who was held to just 38 air yards in the first half, led the Pirates' comeback effort with 165 in the final 30 minutes, which included a pair of TDs ... The loss spoiled a record-breaking night for Johnson, who became ECU's career all-purpose yards leader.

Since accepting membership in Conference USA, the Pirates have produced a 17-29 (.370) nonleague record, which includes a program-high 5-1 mark in 1999 ... ECU has split its two non- Conference USA clashes so far in ‘06 - falling at Virginia Tech & defeating North Carolina ... The Pirates also turned in a .500 ledger a year ago, suffering setbacks vs. Navy and WVU before bouncing back with triumphs over Virginia and NC State for a modest two-game win streak ... In fact, the 21-16 victory over the Wolfpack also snapped a 13-game road regular season non-conference skid that began during the 2000 season.

When it meets West Virginia Saturday, East Carolina will be facing its highest-ranked opponent since squaring off against the same Mountaineers a year ago (then ranked No. 4), which followed a visit to No. 2 Miami (Fla.) Sept. 13, 2003 (UM 38-3) ... In their last 21 games against Top 25 teams (since 1993), the Pirates have fashioned a 4-17 slate ... ECU's last win over a ranked opponent occurred on Nov. 23, 2002 when the Pirates handled No. 22 TCU 31-28 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... East Carolina's last triumph over a Top 10 squad was a 27-20 win over No. 9 Miami (Fla.) Sept. 26, 1999 in Raleigh - a game which was moved to Carter-Finley Stadium from Greenville because of Hurricane Floyd ... Since 2004, ECU has faced just four nationally-ranked opponents and dropped each matchup - L/56-23 at No. 10 West Virginia (09/04/04), L/59-7 at No. 22 Louisville (10/02/04), L/27-10 vs. No. 4 West Virginia (09/23/06), L/17-7 vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech (09/01/07).

Four teams which participated in bowl contests a year ago highlight East Carolina's 2007 schedule - solely in September ... ECU opponents coming off bowl appearances last year include Virginia Tech (Chick-fil-A), Southern Miss (GMAC), West Virginia (Gator) and Houston (Liberty) ... Those teams went a combined 2-2 (pair of wins were recorded by Southern Miss over Ohio and West Virginia over Georgia Tech) in post-season play ... In all, East Carolina's 2007 schedule was ranked as the fourth-most difficult by ... The Pirates' slate stood behind Notre Dame, Utah and Troy but ahead of Rice, TCU, BYU, Southern Miss and Tulsa's.

Inside ECU Sports Top Stories