East Carolina Pirates

Sackless in South Bend: Irish lone remaining FBS team without a sack

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And then there was one.

Entering Week 4, Nevada and Notre Dame were the lone FBS teams that had yet to register a sack during the first quarter of the 2016 season.  Midway through the second quarter of the game against Purdue today, however, Nevada’s Korey Rush sacked David Blough for a four-yard loss.

With Notre Dame not playing until 3:30 ET this afternoon (on NBC), that leaves the Irish standing alone as the only sackless team left at the FBS level.

Ironically enough, Purdue entered today’s game as one of five FBS teams, along with East Carolina, Northern Illinois, Texas State and West Virginia, that had recorded just one sack on the year.  And, for those who are curious, Florida came into Week 4 leading the nation in sacks with 16.

No. 2 in that category?  The Irish’s opponent this afternoon, the Blue Devils (tied with Ball State).

UPDATED 6:11 p.m. ET: And then there were none.

Early in the third quarter of the game with Duke, Nyles Morgan sacked Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones, giving the Irish their first sack of the season 14 quarters after it started.

East Carolina’s Zay Jones just misses single-game FBS record for receptions in loss to South Carolina

Eastern Carolina's Zay Jones dives into the end zone tailed by Western Carolina's Tra Hardy during an NCAA college football game in Greenville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector via AP)
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It looked like Oklahoma State’s James Washington would be challenging the single-game FBS record for receiving yards.  While that still may or may not happen — OSU-Pittsburgh is in a weather delay and Washington has 296 yards at the beginning of the fourth quarter — another FBS wide receiver came tantalizingly close to matching a little history in Week 3.

In East Carolina’s 20-15 loss to South Carolina, Zay Jones hauled in a staggering 22 receptions.  That number was just one off the single-game FBS record first set by UNLV’s Randy Gatewood in 1994 and matched by Eastern Michigan’s Tyler Jones during the 2008 season.

Jones had originally been credited with 23 receptions, although that was later amended as a catch was changed to a run.

Jones came into the game with 17 receptions this season.  His previous career-high was 14, which he accomplished twice in 2015 (loss to Florida, win over UCF).

The 22 receptions are more than the number of completions 17 teams had accumulated entering Week 3.

Group of Five Power Rankings: Boise State is back? Boise State is back

BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 10: Running back Jeremy McNichols #13 of the Boise State Broncos runs through traffic during second half action against the Washington State Cougars on September 10, 2016 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won the game 31-28. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
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The highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt as ranked by the College Football Playoff selection committee is awarded a guaranteed spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up at the end of the year. Boise State earned that in the 2014 season and Houston claimed it in the 2015 season. Houston again appears like a very strong candidate for the spot once again this fall after two weeks of play.

Keep in mind these rankings do not include independent programs BYU and Army, as neither qualifies for the automatic New Years Six bowl spot reserved for the Group of Five representative. So, without any further delay, here is how I would rank the Group of Five contenders through the first two weeks of the season.

1. Houston (2-0)

Houston had to play without quarterback Greg Ward last weekend against Lamar, but that was no problem at all. The Cougars blanked Lamar, 42-0, a week after scoring one of the best wins of the opening weekend against Oklahoma. With that win, it may be difficult for any Group of Five contender to chase down Houston unless the Cougars stumble. The win over the Sooners will look even better if Oklahoma can pick up a home win this weekend against Ohio State.

2. Boise State (2-0)

The Broncos filled in at the fifth spot last week but get the jump up to No. 2 this week after picking up a win against Washington State. Now I know what you’re saying. But Kevin, Washington state lost to an FCS school at home! This is true, but the Broncos have been looking pretty decent out of the gate and may be emerging as the team to beat in the Mountain West Conference already.

3. San Diego State (2-0)

Oh yeah. Then there’s San Diego State, fresh off a win at home against Cal. Donnel Pumphrey is a one-man wrecking crew on the ground. Should the Aztecs be ranked ahead of the Broncos? It’s debatable. The only reason the Broncos get the edge for now is San Diego State has a win against an FCS opponent and Boise State went on the road to demolish a possible Sun Belt contender in the opener. San Diego State hits the road this week to play Northern Illinois, which could help nudge the Aztecs past Boise State.

3. Western Michigan (2-0)

I would have easily kept Western Michigan higher this week after putting up 70 against an FCS opponent, but the luster of a win on the road against Northwestern that was nearly handed away to the Wildcats lost a little luster when Northwestern lost at home to an FCS opponent, in which they only scored seven points. But that’s not Western Michigan’s fault! If Western Michigan goes 2-0 in Big Ten play, they could ascend right back up the ranking next week. The Broncos head to Illinois this week.

4. Southern Mississippi (2-0)

A week after a big rally on the road against Kentucky for a win, Southern Mississippi wasted Savannah State, 56-0, as expected. The Golden Eagles get Troy at home this week, after the Trojans just made Clemson work hard for a win. Get this one and the Golden Eagles should be in business.

5. East Carolina (2-0)

Making their season debut in the top five here is East Carolina. The Pirates scored a nice win over North Carolina State for some in-state bragging rights, and they could go 2-0 vs Power Five opponents this week with a road game at South Carolina. Do that and then they head to Blacksburg, Virginia for a game with the Hokies. East Carolina has a chance to make a move in this ranking before conference play opens.

On the Radar: Air Force, Cincinnati, Navy, South Florida, Western Kentucky, Toledo, Central Michigan, Temple, Georgia Southern

I was tempted to place Central Michigan in here, but I refuse to acknowledge the Chippewas actually did win as both the MAC and Big 12 confirmed the officials in the game blew the call. Under that set of circumstances, I believe the game should be vacated, so I cannot bring myself to acknowledge the win. I will, however, keep them on the radar because they took advantage of an opportunity presented to them, and in the end I cannot hold that against them too much.

ECU trips up NC State, extends winning streak over ACC teams

East Carolina's Zay Jones, right, fights off North Carolina State's Dravious Wright during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Greenville, N.C. on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. in Greenville, N.C. (Rhett Butler /The Daily Reflector via AP)
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The Big 12 denied East Carolina’s bid for membership, so the AAC school made the ACC pay for it.  Again.

ECU jumped out to a 12-0 lead at home on North Carolina State, then watched as NCSU mounted a sustained comeback and staked themselves to a 30-26 lead early in the fourth quarter.  An Anthony Scott five-yard touchdown run with 5:49 remaining turned out to be the game-winner, however, as the Pirates hung on for a 33-30 win.

The Wolfpack had one final chance to get within field goal range and send the game into overtime, but could only manage to get to the ECU 46-yard line before time expired.

With the win, ECU is now 2-0 on the season and has beaten six straight teams from the ACC.  In that span, ECU has dropped Virginia Tech (2014, 2015) and North Carolina (2013, 2014) and NCSU (2013), with their last lost to a squad from that conference coming in 2013 to Tech.

NCSU, meanwhile, has lost its last three games against FBS schools dating back to last season.

NCAA rules starting ECU WR ineligible for 2016 season

GREENVILLE, NC - OCTOBER 23:  Trevon Brown #88 of the East Carolina Pirates drops a pass in the end zone as Byron Jones #16 of the Connecticut Huskies defends during a game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on October 23, 2014 in Greenville, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Ahead of its opener against Western Carolina, East Carolina stated that Trevon Brown would not play as the program looked to ensure the wide receiver’s academic ducks were in a row. Wednesday, The Association brought out its shotgun and did some hunting.

In a press release, ECU announced that Brown has been declared academically ineligible by the NCAA. As a result, the junior will be sidelined for the entire 2016 season.

What led to the season-long ban is unknown, although there/their/they’re might be a good place to start.

One sliver of sunshine for Brown is that he will be permitted to practice with his Pirate teammates, provided he remains enrolled and attends classes full-time. At this point in time, that’s the expected course Brown will take.

After sitting out the 2016 season, Brown will have one year of eligibility remaining that he can use in 2017.

Brown’s 41 receptions for 496 yards were third on the team last season. His four receiving touchdowns were tied for second.

Exiting summer camp, Brown was the projected starter as the “Z” receiver.