Who would have thunk it? East Carolina enters its homecoming game this Saturday as a slight 1-point favorite over Division 1-A newcomer, University of South Florida.

A couple of years ago, when the game was announced many Pirate fans thought the game would be a nice warm-up for serious Conference USA play against the likes of Louisville and Southern Mississippi.

Lo and behold the Bulls who will become full-fledged C-USA football members next season embarrassed Southern Mississippi last week 16-13. That win has the USF fans virtually frothing at the mouth over the prospects of a second consecutive victory over an upper echelon conference foe.

A loss to the Bulls may seem a tragedy to some ECU fans, but the Pirates have endured worse over the years. Recent losses to Alabama-Birmingham come to mind, but what about the losses to Southwestern Louisiana and Eastern Kentucky in 1980, William & Mary in 1981, Central Michigan and Southwestern Louisiana in 1984, not to mention Bowling Green in 1992.

Now, don't misunderstand my point in mentioning a few of ECU's more infamous losses, I am not trying to prepare folks for disappointment. I think the Pirates will find a way to win on Saturday, but don't sell the USF program short. Like their local rival Central Florida, the Bulls are not a force to be taken lightly. Situated in a football hotbed state and a great town (Tampa), USF offers Florida high school athletes a legitimate alternative to Miami, Florida and Florida State. This years' Bulls squad is good enough to compete in C-USA and their future looks bright. Maybe Saturday will be the first in a series of hotly contested games between the Bulls and Bucs. I hope so.

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