Oct. 5, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. - After facing three opponents from automatic Bowl Championship Series (BCS) qualifying leagues in its first four games, including two programs that were ranked among college football's top 12, East Carolina will return to Conference USA play this week when it travels to Houston to meet the undefeated Cougars at Robertson Stadium for a 7:00 p.m. (ET) matchup.
The meeting against Houston opens a three-game road swing for the Pirates, who face Memphis (Oct. 15) before closing out their 2011 non-conference schedule by battling Navy on Oct. 22. The UH contest also marks the first true road game for ECU since last Nov. 20 when it, ironically, visited the city of Houston for a league matchup against the Rice Owls.
The Pirates Against The Cougars
East Carolina leads 6-4 ... Oddly, the Pirates have captured four of five meetings in Houston, but have dropped three of five matchups played at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... ECU's lone road setback was a 34-24 decision Nov. 6, 2004 ... The Pirates have averaged 32.4 points per game played in Houston ... Three of the East Carolina's four road victories over the Cougars have been by six points or less.
The Last Meeting
December 5, 2009
East Carolina Defeats No. 18 Houston, 38-32Skip Holtz
wasn't shy about celebrating this one. Seconds after East Carolina had beaten No. 18 Houston 38-32 for its second straight Conference USA championship Saturday, the coach extended both arms in the air with a beaming smile as he and his players spilled onto the field.
The Last Meeting
East Carolina 38 Houston 32 | Dec. 5, 2009 @Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C.
Senior Van Eskridge's pair of fourth-quarter interceptions, including a game-saver in the Pirate end zone with only 42 seconds remaining, helped East Carolina stave off a Houston comeback attempt and capture its second Conference USA championship in as many tries ... The Pirates survived a 56-of-75, 527-yard, five-touchdown passing effort by Cougar quarterback Case Keenum with a trio of interceptions, two in their own end zone ... On the other side of the ball, ECU used 262 air yards from Patrick Pinkney and a 151-yard team rushing day, which included a pair of ground scores each from Dominique Lindsay and Giavanni Ruffin ... In all, the Pirates forced four turnovers and cashed the first three miscues into 17 points ... Eskridge returned his first interception 30 yards to the UH seven-yard line to set up a Lindsay scoring run that pushed the ECU lead to 31-19 with 13:27 to play ... After the Cougars stuffed the Pirates on a fourth-down try inside Houston territory with 1:47 remaining, Keenum rallied UH down to the ECU 34 before Eskridge's heroics.
The Last Meeting In Houston
Sept. 29, 2007
Pirates Edge Cougars, 37-35 Chris Johnson
rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns to lead East Carolina to a 37-35 win over Houston on Saturday night. East Carolina (2-3, 1-1 Conference USA) led 34-21 in the third quarter and held on late as Houston (2-2, 1-1) missed two field goals in the game's final two minutes.
The Last Meeting In Houston
East Carolina 37, Houston 35 | Sept. 29, 2007 @Robertson Stadium, Houston, Texas
East Carolina converted a pair of interceptions and a blocked field goal attempt into three first-half touchdowns and then survived two Cougar game-winning three-point attempts in the contest's final 1:55 to hang on for a key Conference USA road victory over defending league champion Houston ... The win also snapped UH's eight-game conference win streak ... Tailback Chris Johnson played a key offensive role for ECU, racking up 147 rushing yards and scoring on runs of 14 and 43 yards ... Quarterback Rob Kass gave the Pirates a second-half spark, engineering three scoring drives on East Carolina's first four possessions in the third quarter to turn a 21-20 halftime deficit into a 37-28 lead ... The game, which featured a combined 813 yards, 10 touchdowns, six lead changes and five turnovers, wasn't settled until UH kicker T.J. Lawrence missed a 38-yard field goal attempt wide right with just three seconds remaining ... Less than two minutes earlier, Lawrence had misfired on a 37-yarder but Houston forced a Pirate punt to cap a possession that used only 26 seconds ... The Cougars then quickly drove 37 yards in just 1:26 to set up the failed game-winning try ... UH dominated the clock (35:01) and amassed 484 total yards.
Unranked Versus Unranked - A Deviation Of Sorts
The last two meetings between Houston and East Carolina have featured at least one ranked team ... The Cougars routed the then-No. 23 Pirates in the 2008 meeting before ECU returned the favor by knocking off No. 18 UH in the 2009 Conference USA title game.
Against The Lone Star State
The Pirates have won 16 of 25 all-time matchups (16-9) against FBS programs from the state of Texas ... ECU is 6-4 against Houston, 2-0 vs. UTEP, 2-2 vs. Rice, 2-1 vs. TCU, 2-2 vs. SMU, 1-0 vs. Texas Tech and 1-0 against North Texas ... East Carolina has never faced current Big 12 Conference members Baylor, Texas A&M or Texas on the gridiron.
Ruffin McNeill, Texas & Houston
Ruffin McNeill has recorded an all-time record of 65-32 (.670) when coaching in the state of Texas ... Of the 97 overall contests, 93 occurred during his tenure on the Texas Tech staff which spanned 10 years from 2000 to 2009 (65-28) ... Ironically, McNeill dropped his first three contests in the Lone Star State as a member of the UNLV and Fresno State staffs against current members of Conference USA (0-1 vs. Rice, 0-2 vs. SMU) ... In the city of Houston, McNeill has won two of seven matchups - splitting a pair of bowl games (win vs. Navy, loss vs. East Carolina), winning one and dropping three at Rice and falling to Houston in 2009 at Robertson Stadium.
On The Road Again
Since joining C-USA in 1997, East Carolina has recorded a 39-55 (.415) mark when playing away from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium ... Prior to a 2-5 mark in 2010 (losses at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, UCF and Rice, victories at USM and UAB, and a neutral site setback to Maryland in the Military Bowl), the Pirates were 3-4 in 2009 and 5-4 in 2008 ... ECU's trip to Houston marks the first true road contest of the 2011 season after facing South Carolina in Charlotte.
Playing The Wild West ... Year No. 7
East Carolina owns an 11-7 mark (6-3/home, 5-4/road) against the "other side" since the league began divisional play in 2005 - sweeping Tulane and UTEP in two meetings and splitting with Houston (two games), SMU (four), Tulsa (four) and Rice (four) ... The Pirates went 1-2 in 2010 by nipping the Golden Hurricane and falling to the Owls and Mustangs, and were 2-1 in 2009 and also took two of three regular season matchups in 2008 (3-0/2007, 1-2/'06, 2-1/'05).
It's Getting Thinner
While ECU's offensive line opened the season as one of the youngest nationally, recent injuries to tackle Grant Harner and center Doug Polochak have made things even more challenging ... The Pirates' starting OL against North Carolina consisted of all first-year and two first-time starters (*) ... A closer look:
C-USA: Looking For Two Up And Zero Down
The Pirates will try to move to 2-0 in Conference USA play for the third-straight season (and only the fifth time since joining the league in 1997) when they meet Houston Saturday ... ECU was also 2-0 in 2001 and 2002, defeating Tulane and Army to open C-USA action, while handing UCF and Marshall setbacks in 2009 and downing Tulsa and Memphis a year ago.
After allowing only a combined 222 passing yards against South Carolina and Virginia Tech (111.1 ypg), East Carolina has been a little more penetrable the last two outings (283/UAB, 230/UNC) ... In relative terms, however, the Pirates still rank second in pass-happy Conference USA and stand among the nation's top 25 (23rd) in aerial defense with a 183.8 clip ... A daunting task awaits ECU this week as UH quarterback Case Keenum leads all FBS signal-callers by averaging 401.0 yards per contest.
Backs Against The Wall
In the last three games, opponents have started a drive in East Carolina territory seven times ... The Pirate defense has held its own, allowing just one score in that situation - an 11-yard North Carolina TD pass after the Tar Heels took over at the 14-yard line following a Dominique Davis interception ... On the other six possessions, ECU has forced two fumbles, an interception, a missed field goal, a failed fourth down conversion and the end of a half.
Second Half Awakenings
When it outscored North Carolina 17-7 in the second half Saturday, it snapped a streak of sorts where the Pirates had been on the short end of a 201-62 post-intermission run in their previous seven non-conference games ... In fact, ECU has now outscored its last two opponents (14-13 vs. UAB) in the final 30 minutes of play after opening the campaign with a 56-16 deficit following contests against South Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Pennies, Nickels And Dimes
Despite its combined 1,032 yards against the Blazers and Tar Heels, the Pirates did not record a single play longer than 34 yards ... In fact, ECU has not had a play of 40 or more yards in its last five games despite tallying 1,832 total yards ... East Carolina still hasn't posted a rush of 50 yards or more in the McNeill era.
After topping the nation in completions per game (30.2) in 2010, Davis remains among the best after four games ... A closer look:
||Brandon Weeden (Sr.)
||Nick Foles (Sr.)
||Dominique Davis (Sr.)
||Seth Doege (Jr.)
||Corey Robinson (So.)
Comparing Four-Game Starts
Although the 1-3 record might not indicate it, Davis has enjoyed a near-identical start to his record-breaking `10 campaign in `11... A closer look: