East Carolina Announces 2023 Schedule
OOC and Dates for the 2023 Season Have Been Confirmed
Pirates are set to open up the season against rival North Carolina State in Greenville.
Late yesterday afternoon, ECU Athletics announced the coming 2023 Football season schedule, including the 2023 OOC schedule. The Pirate Conference opponents were announced Wednesday Evening by the American Athletic Conference. The Schedule, without further adieu, is as follows:
Week 1 Vs. North Carolina State
Week 2 BYE
Week 3 Vs. New Mexico State
Week 4 Vs. UAB
Week 5 Vs. SMU
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 @ Temple
Week 8 Vs. Navy
Week 9 Vs. UCF
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 @ Western Michigan
Week 12 @ Cincinanati
Week 13 BYE
Week 14 @ Tulsa
Week 15 @ USF
Week 16 Vs. Connecticut
East Carolina will be entering its 10th season since its inception into CFBHC in 2014. In that time, the Pirates have seen some wild seasons, which include two Conference Championship Appearances, six bowl games appearances with three wins. They've seen a number of upsets, including #7 Ole Miss in 2014, as well as current Coach Weeze's first win as a Pirate over #15 Kansas in 2019. Unfortunately they have also been upset a number of times over the years as well. 2023 will open and end with a bang for the Pirates as they get two play two teams that fans have come to enjoy watching. Both of these games will be at home was well. The Pirates will open with Nc State at home. The Instate rivalry between these two teams have started to heat up. ECU won the first three meetings, however narrow losses have seen the Wolfpack walking away victorious the last two seasons. The final game of the season, and essentially the only home game the last half of the season, Sees ECU playing Uconn. While Uconn has not been a particularly good team over the years, they always seem to play ECU strong. This includes Three wins, an several close losses.
ECU has a very weird Schedule this season. The front half is loaded with home games, while the back half loaded with road games. However the Road conference games are also the easier Conference opponents. We use the terms easier loosely here. WMU, while not a conference game has been a powerhouse team in the MAC and could be a very tough opponent for the young Pirates. ECU is trying to mature and show they are more like the teams from the 2018-2019 seasons. So WMU will be a good road test to see where they are at against a pretty good Conference Champion. Tulsa is obviously an interesting game coming off a Cinderella story last year. USF looks to be on a rebuild year like the one the Pirates had last year. However, With this game being in Florida, anything can happen and they are still a tough team regardless. Their rebuild years aren't like others. You could say Cincinnati is an easy win, but they broke the confidence level of Pirate fans last season after a surprising defeat at home. Will this young team have the mental toughness to overcome this and set the record straight?
When you look at the first four conference games however, it is glaringly obvious that the Pirates NEED to take advantage of the OOC games. They need to open up and win big against Nc State. They need to make NMSU look like they are the inferior team. They need to play a up and coming UAB team well and come out on top. SMU, even in Greenville will not be Easy. They are possibly the best team in the entire conference when you look at their prolonged history. To follow them up, they play temple. Temple is easily everyone's daddy in the AAC East. However, they have managed to play Temple very close over the last..well since they started playing them in 2016. Since 2016, there has only been 2 games in which the victor has not been decided by 7 points or fewer. This may not be a game that Temple particularly looks forward to, but the ECU faithful always seem to perkup to see if the Pirates can topple Temple. ECU has not beaten Temple since 2018. They follow this tough stretch of games with Navy. There is no easy way to say it. ECU got an unlucky draw in the way the teams are split up, and how cross division opponents are decided. Even more unlucky was how they lined up on the schedule. The following week, Sees the tough UCF team come to Greenville. UCF Vs. ECU is not only the Pirates oldest divisional opponent, with both teams being AAC East founders, and the only ones to stay in the East, but this matchup is also the Conference longest running rivalry. 2023 will see the tenth matchup between these two. Currently the Golden Knights lead the series 5-4.
As tough as it may be, ECU needs to use their home games to their advantage and try to get some early season magic and beat a few of these conference teams if they hope to be alive and in the race toward the end of the season. Furthermore, their OOC schedule is much easier than what it was last season. Unless these teams have Cinderella stories of their own this season, The pirates should be able to take advantage of this and see themselves through to a bowl season.
Depending on how this team matures this off-season, this could be a very interesting season for the Pirates. A lot of growth is expected, and a much better team than last season is expected to start this year. Only time will tell if that is true, however it should be exciting none the less. The offense has slowly been building, the Defense is almost ready to explode into what was promise when Coach Weeze took over 4 years ago. There is a lot of excitement around the team..hopefully it doesn't end up like last season.