GREENVILLE, N.C. – Contests against six bowl qualifiers and two programs that were included in the final Top 25 polls a year ago highlight East Carolina University’s 2023 football schedule, which was released Tuesday by ECU and the American Athletic Conference.
CLICK HERE to see the 2023 schedule
For the second time in three years and third in head coach Mike Houston’s five-year tenure, ECU will open the season on the road when it travels to Michigan (Sept. 2). The Pirates’ first home game of the ’23 campaign extends a rivalry with Marshall that spans 56 years when The Herd comes to Greenville (Sept. 9).
A trip to Boone to square off against Appalachian State (Sept. 16) followed by another home game against Gardner-Webb (Sept. 23) wraps up the non-conference schedule.
The Pirates’ 10th campaign in the AAC will officially begin when they travel to Houston to take on new member Rice (Sept. 30) before enjoying their bye week on Oct. 7. ECU will play consecutive home games against SMU (Oct. 12) and Charlotte (Oct. 21) with the Pirates and Mustangs meeting Thursday night on one of ESPN’s national platforms.
Three of ECU’s final five contests will be played on the road against UTSA (Oct. 28), FAU (Nov. 11) and Navy (Nov. 18), while the Pirates will host Tulane (Nov. 4) and Tulsa (Nov. 24/25). The regular season finale against the Golden Hurricane has an opportunity to be played on Friday. Final broadcast determinations will be made once completed by the league office and the network.
“We are excited and looking forward to the opportunity to compete each week, especially in front of Pirate Nation at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium,” Houston said. “It’s exciting to start a new season playing one of the premier programs in Michigan as well as continuing long-time series against Marshall and Appalachian State. From an American Conference standpoint, we welcome the challenge it presents with the league’s new and existing members.”
East Carolina posted an 8-5 overall mark, 4-4 in The AAC and captured its first bowl win since 2014 with a 53-29 win over Coastal Carolina in the 2022 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl. The Pirates, who reached postseason eligibility in consecutive years under Houston’s leadership, also reached the eight-win plateau for the first time since 2014.
Season tickets are on sale now with packages starting as low as $115 each. The priority deadline to order is April 3. Purchases may be made via ECU’s Online Ticket Center or by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at (252) 737-4500.
The Pirates will open spring drills March 14 and conclude work with the annual Purple-Gold Spring Game inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on April 8.
2023 SCHEDULE NOTABLES
ECU’s 2023 opponents posted a combined 87-67 (.565) record in 2022. The Pirates’ four non-conference foes were 35-17 (.673), while the eight AAC squads tallied a collective 52-50 (.510) mark. For the second consecutive year, the Pirates will face three programs that had 10 or more wins – Michigan (13), Tulane (12) and UTSA (11).
Six Bowl Teams
In all, ECU’s schedule features contests against six teams which qualified for bowl games a year ago, while Gardner-Webb reached the second round of the FCS Playoffs. In addition to Michigan (CFP/Vrbo Fiesta Bowl) and Marshall (Myrtle Beach Bowl), Rice (Lending Tree Bowl), SMU (New Mexico Bowl), UTSA (Duluth Trading Cure) and Tulane (Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic) each were eligible for FBS postseason appearances last season. Of East Carolina’s six home games, half will be against 2022 bowl qualifiers.
Three Conference Champions
The Pirates will square off against three teams that won conference championships in Michigan (Big10), UTSA (Conference USA) and Tulane (American).
In The Final Polls
Two of the Pirates’ 2023 FBS opponents were ranked in college football’s two major polls (Associated Press, USA Today/AFCA Coaches) to end the 2022 season – Michigan (3/3) and Tulane (9/9).
First Time Opponents
ECU will face off against three opponents for the first time playing road contests at Michigan and UTSA, while hosting Charlotte.
For the fourth consecutive season (and fifth time in the last six years), ECU will face SMU on Thursday, Oct. 12 in 2023. Since 2000, the Pirates are 23-30 all-time on non-Saturday games (16-15/road and 7-15/home) after posting a 2-1 record in 2022.
American Athletic Conference Championship
The American Conference will conduct its championship game on Dec. 2. The title clash will be conducted on the home field of the highest-seeded team (by order of its regular season finish).
Kickoff Times & Television Picks
Kickoff times and television selections for the first three weeks of the season will likely be announced in late May, while the remainder will be through the traditional 12-day/6-day process.