Category: East Carolina Pirates

James Summers, Ken Ekanem, Quincy McKinney

ECU says it would decline bowl invite after 5-7 season, but that invite was unlikely to come

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The odds are pretty good East Carolina never would have received a bowl invitation as 5-7 teams wait in line for a rare bowl invitation to fill bowl vacancies. Either wayt, East Carolina is on the record now to say it would not accept any bowl invitation.

“While we understand there are still numerous programs with higher APR scores ahead of us who merit stronger consideration, we have already determined that we would decline an offer should one be extended,” East Carolina Director of Athletics Jeff Compher said in a released statement. “Our efforts should be centered on positioning the Pirates for future championships.”

With Nebraska and Illinois already reportedly ready to accept any bowl invitation they would receive, East Carolina was already going to eb locked out of the postseason as long as the Huskers and Illini stayed true to those reports. Missouri has publicly said it would turn down an ofer, but there are still other schools that would stand in the way of ECU, which is way down the order on the wait list.

Temple moves to 7-0 for first time in program history

Travon Simmons, Frank Nutile
Associated Press

No. 22 Temple remained unbeaten on the season Thursday night, and made a little program history in the process.  That doesn’t mean, though, there weren’t some anxious moments along the way to the record books.

In fact, Temple either trailed or held a scant three-point lead for the first 56 minutes of its game at East Carolina.  The last four minutes, however, the Owls put the AAC matchup and the Pirates away in a 24-14 win.

The win was Temple’s seventh in a row to start the season, the first time in program history the Owls have accomplished that feat.  That history, suffice to say, was a direct result of late-game heroics.

Trailing 14-10 with just under six minutes left in the fourth, P.J. Walker led the Owls on a seven-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in a Walker 23-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson to take their first lead, at 17-14, since nine minutes were left in the second quarter.  Forcing the Pirates into a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, the Owls blocked the punt to set up shop at ECU’s 15-yard line with 2:28 left.

Two plays and :10 later, Jahad Thomas put the game out of reach with a 14-yard touchdown run to push the count to a two-score advantage at 24-14.

Anderson was the offensive star of the game as the wide receiver accounted for 126 yards and a touchdown on his eight receptions.  The catches and yardage numbers were season-highs for the senior.  ECU’s Blake Kemp passed for a game-high 272 yards in the loss.

With the win, Temple remains one of four Group of Five unbeatens, joining No. 18 Memphis, No. 19 Toledo and No. 21 Houston.

The road to remain unbeaten and also challenge for a New Year’s Six spot gets dicey immediately as Temple will play host to No. 11 Notre Dame next Saturday.  It’ll get dicey along down the road as well as, three weeks later, they will play host to 18th-ranked Memphis.

Frank Beamer said playing East Carolina was an exhibition game

Frank Beamer

Virginia Tech failed to come away with a win on Saturday at East Carolina, but Hokies head coach Frank Beamer had an interesting take on the game. After the loss, dropping the Hokies to 2-2 this season, Beamer said games against teams like East Carolina are nothing more than preseason or exhibition games. Only the games against ACC opponents, apparently, count in the eyes of Beamer.

Now, we can probably give Beamer a mild pass for being upset that his team lost a game. The heat of the moment after a tough loss can leave some to say some things they do not truly mean, and odds are Beamer would express this thought a bit differently any other time. But just as that quote reads after a loss comes across as sour grapes for Beamer.

Beamer’s quote does reveal a truth. Power conference schools scheduling games against teams from the Group of Five or FCS have always generally been perceived as tune-up games. With no college football preseason games like in the NFL, power conference programs scheduling games against conferences like the American Athletic Conference can be viewed as preseason games. Of course, the American is a bad example here. East Carolina now has a victory over an ACC school. So does Houston (Louisville). Temple also has a win over a Big Ten school (Penn State).

Beamer is right though. For Virginia Tech, a national championship season was hardly in the fold for the Hokies, but a shot at an ACC title is not. In a wide-open ACC Coastal just waiting for someone to grab it, Virginia Tech can still come back from two non-conference losses to make some things happen.

Group of Five Update: Boise State pushes way back into the mix

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Welcome Boise State back into the Group of Five conversation. The Broncos picked up their second win of the season against a power conference opponent, even if it was against Virginia. The Broncos went on the road without their starting quarterback and they absolutely hammered Virginia. It was just the kind of win Boise State needed to remind people the Broncos still belong in the New Years Six discussions among Group of Five conference contenders.

The highest-ranked Group of Five champion as determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings will receive a seat at the adult table in the New Years Six bowl line-up. Boise State grabbed that spot last season, but the Broncos are already playing catch-up in this year’s race due to a loss to BYU and the overall strength of the Mountain West Conference coming into question based on the on-field results this fall. If Boise State’s offense is going to tick the way it did against Virginia the rest of the way, then watch out for the Broncos. They have the brand image helping them out as well compared to other contenders.

Toledo still has some weight of its own with a road win at Arkansas to brag about, along with a win against Iowa State. Those wins are starting to drop in value though, especially the Arkansas game after the Razorbacks just dropped their third straight game. Maybe Toledo ruined Arkansas’ season. But the Rockets still must get out of the MAC to maintain their standing, and that means getting by Bowling Green and Northern Illinois at some point. The Huskies have fallen in the race with two losses but are still looking to be a solid threat in conference play. Bowling Green also has a pair of power conference victories and should be a tough team to beat in the MAC.

The American Athletic Conference saw all of its top teams remain undefeated this week. Memphis continued to show off its offensive skill in a wild win over Cincinnati, dropping the preseason AAC favorites to 0-2 in conference play and all but seemingly eliminated them from New Years Six consideration. Navy scored a road win at UConn and Houston blew away Texas State. Temple was off this week. The AAC also scored a win over the ACC with East Carolina edging Virginia Tech, but the conference also saw UCF drop to 0-4 at South Carolina and SMU upset at home against James Madison.

Here’s how I think the College Football Playoff selection committee might rank the top Group of Five teams at this point in the season.

  1. Toledo (3-0; two wins vs. Power 5 conferences)
  2. Memphis (4-0; looking like the team to beat in the American)
  3. Temple (3-0; Beat Penn State and Cincinnati, hoping to be undefeated when they face Notre Dame on Halloween)
  4. Boise State (3-1; Two wins vs. Power 5 conferences, but MWC holding them back)
  5. Navy (3-0; Mids are rolling with Keenan Reynolds and sound defense, big home game with Air Force this week before going to Notre Dame)

Teams on the radar: Houston, Bowling Green, Air Force

Houston’s biggest win of the season is still the week 2 upset at Louisville. If the Cougars get out of Tulsa with a win to fo 4-0, Houston could be lining up an undefeated regular season. The biggest games will come much later in the season with both Memphis and Navy at home.

Bowling Green has won two games against Big Ten opponents and they have the t-shirts to prove it. But those wins came against Purdue and Maryland. The Falcons have lost twice though, which means they could be chasing a couple of teams and need some help outside of the MAC.

Air Force is 2-1 and has a big game at Navy this weekend. The Falcons suffered a loss at Michigan State in week 3, their only opportunity against a power conference opponent. The strength of the Mountain West holds Air Force back for now, but a 10-2 Air Force team with a Mountain West championship would be a very intriguing Group of Five candidate for the selection committee to consider.

Looking Ahead Game of the Week

Navy (3-0, 2-0 AAC) vs. Air Force (2-1, 1-0 MWC); October 3, 3:30 p.m. ET

Not only is the first part of the Commander-in-Chief series underway between these two service academies, but positioning in the Group of Five race will be on the line. A win for Navy would move the Midshipmen to 4-0 and knock the Mountain West down another rung while boosting the American’s standing. With the margin for error already reduced for Air Force with one loss and a struggling MWC, a win may be critical for Air Force to keep much hope of playing in a New Years Six bowl alive.

Virginia Tech to be down a coach for today’s game vs. ECU

Stacy Searels
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Not only will Virginia Tech’s playing roster be depleted by your normal in-season bumps and bruises, but their coaching staff will be down a man as well.

Shortly ahead of Tech’s game with East Carolina this afternoon, the Hokies announced that offensive line coach Stacy Searels did not make the trip to Greenville with the rest of the team.  The stated reason for the absence is sciatic nerve pain.

With Searels, in his second year with the Hokies, unavailable, his duties will be assumed by tight ends coach Bryan Stinespring.

Tech is looking to win its third straight since losing to No. 1 Ohio State in the opener.  ECU, meanwhile, is looking to avoid a three-game losing streak after winning its opener.

(Photo credit: Virginia Tech athletics)