GREENVILLE, N.C. – Contests against seven bowl qualifiers, a home matchup against Southeastern Conference member South Carolina and a season-opening Thursday night neutral site clash against Appalachian State are featured on East Carolina’s complete 2021 football schedule released Thursday by the American Athletic Conference.
After the Pirates begin the campaign Sept. 2 by renewing their 89-year, 31-game in-state series with the Mountaineers at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, the Gamecocks will make their fourth overall visit – and first since 1997 – to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Sept. 11.
ECU will also open AAC play at home for the second-straight year when it welcomes Tulane to Greenville on Oct. 2 and will follow by hosting South Florida (Oct. 28/30), Temple (Nov. 4/6) and defending champion Cincinnati (Nov. 26/27). The Pirates’ conference road schedule consists of trips to UCF (Oct. 9), Houston (Oct. 23), Memphis (Nov. 13) and Navy (Nov. 20).
In addition to East Carolina’s eight league tilts and the aforementioned meetings against Appalachian State and South Carolina, other previously announced non-conference games at Marshall (Sept. 18) and against Charleston Southern (Sept. 25) complete the remainder of the slate.
The American and its primary television partner – ESPN – have also initially targeted three ECU home dates among its possible early broadcast selections. The Pirates’ contests against the Bulls or Owls could be moved to a Thursday night kickoff, while the finale versus the Bearcats has an opportunity to be played on a Friday. Final broadcast determinations will be made once completed by the league office and the network.
The 2021 schedule offers plenty of balance as both halves are split evenly with three home and three road games that precede and follow a mid-season bye week (Oct. 16). While the Pirates will play two of their first three contests and two of their last three on the road, head coach Mike Houston’s third season also features a more favorable stretch with four of six appearances at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium between Sept. 25 and Nov. 6.
In all, East Carolina will face five opponents who played in bowl games in 2020 on the road this fall, which includes the Mountaineers, Thundering Herd, Knights, Cougars and Tigers. On the flipside, the Bearcats and Green Wave represent the pair of postseason qualifiers who will visit Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
East Carolina’s league opener against Tulane also highlights the school’s game-day designation selections as the annual Homecoming event.
“We welcome the expectations that come with the opportunity this schedule provides,” Houston said. “It is exciting to start a new season in an NFL venue, having South Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and the exposure the American Conference and ESPN continue to deliver for our program, university and Pirate Nation. The schedule offers us a chance to compete, challenge and achieve, which are reflective of the goals we have in place.”
Season tickets for the 2021 season will go on sale beginning March 1. While pricing options will remain the same as last year ($99 to $300 depending on location), additional information and promotional features will be available shortly via ECU’s Online Ticket Office and on all ECU Athletics social media platforms.