Preview: Pirates open home slate Saturday against South Carolina

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina will open its 2021 home schedule hosting Southeastern Conference member South Carolina Saturday at noon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Saturday’s matchup will mark the first SEC opponent for the Pirates since dropping a 20-15 road tilt against the Gamecocks on Sept. 17, 2016 in Williams-Brice Stadium. The last time ECU hosted an SEC member was on Sept. 20, 1997 falling to South Carolina 26-0 in front of 38,902 fans.

ECU will continue its four-game non-league slate next week traveling to former Conference USA opponent Marshall (Sept. 18) before welcoming in Charleston Southern (Sept. 25).

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EAST CAROLINA RECORDS AND STREAKS

Has averaged 409.3 total yards per game in its last six outings entering Saturday …
Has forced at least one turnover in nine straight games (and in 20 of the last 21) …
Has netted five interceptions in the last three games …
Has tallied a total of 50.0 TLFs and 15.0 sacks in its last eight games (19.0/3.0 in last 3) …
Has won 41 of the last 47 games when leading at the half (14-3 since 2015) …
Has won six of the last nine home openers …

THE SERIES
South Carolina leads 14-5 … The Gamecocks have won the last four meetings dating back to 2011 and has won six of the last 11 matchups … Prior to South Carolina’s recent run, the Pirates enjoyed success in the 1990s, capturing five of seven contests in a span from 1991 to 1999 … After ECU’s last win, a 21-3 decision on Sept. 18, 1999, the Pirates’ stay in Columbia lasted an additional week because of the flooding associated with Hurricane Floyd in the Greenville area … The Pirates were extended workout privileges on the South Carolina campus in preparation for its next game against Miami (Fla.) – a contest ECU won 27-23 in Raleigh.

MIKE HOUSTON AGAINST THE GAMECOCKS (1-0)
Saturday’s matchup against the Gamecocks will be ECU Head Coach Mike Houston’s second meeting against South Carolina. As the head coach at The Citadel in 2015, Houston’s team came away with a 23-22 win in Columbia.

SHANE BEAMER AGAINST THE PIRATES (2-2)
While Shane Beamer has never faced East Carolina as a head coach (until Saturday), he has compiled a 2-2 mark against the Pirates as a staff assistant during his 22-year coaching career.

ECU football coach Mike Houston with AD Jon Gilbert (ECU Sports Information photo)

ANALYZING THE 2021 OVERALL SCHEDULE
ECU’s 2021 opponents posted a combined 55-54 (.505) record in 2020 … The Pirates’ four non-conference foes were a collective 18-14 (.563), while the eight AAC squads tallied a 37-40 (.481) mark … Four programs had seven (7) or more wins – Cincinnati (9-1), Appalachian State (9-3), Memphis (8-3) and Marshall (7-3).

WHO WENT BOWLING … In all, ECU’s current slate features contests against seven teams that were invited to bowl games in 2020 – Appalachian State (Myrtle Beach), South Carolina (Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla), Marshall (Camellia), Cincinnati (Chick-fil-A Peach), Tulane (Famous Idaho Potato), UCF (RoofClaim.com Boca Raton), Houston (New Mexico) and Memphis (Cheribundi Boca Raton) … Five of the six Pirates’ road games are against 2020 bowl qualifiers.

IN THE FINAL POLLS … Only one of ECU’s 2021 opponents was ranked in college football’s two major polls (Associated Press/USA Today Amway Coaches) to end the 2020 season – league champion Cincinnati (8/8). However, two Pirates’ AAC opponents from 2020 also received season-ending votes (Tulsa, SMU)

Click here for more from ECU Sports Information.

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