Monday, September 08, 2008

Pirates riding high

Yes, Wake Forest is the lone ACC college football team in the Associated Press top 25 this week at No. 20, but East Carolina is perhaps the best team in the state.

The Pirates jumped from unranked to No. 14 in the poll (and up to No. 20 -- one spot behind Wake -- in the USA Today poll) after knocking off Virginia Tech last week and demolishing then-No. 8 West Virginia this week.

It's no surprise that "Purple Pride" is riding high.

"The Pirates had gone 3-20 before [coach Skip] Holtz arrived four years ago, and they are not in a conference that receives an automatic bid for the Bowl Championship Series," says the News & Observer.

"It just goes to show what good coaching can do," said [Pirate Club president Grant] Jarman, who saw purple flags flapping on cars around town all day Sunday. "This is a proud Pirate nation right now."

With a favorable schedule ahead, ECU could just crash the BCS party.

"The Pirates have two distinct schedules left, an ACC schedule and a Conference USA schedule," writes Lenox Rawlings. "The C-USA schedule looks harder, with road games against Central Florida and Southern Miss. The ACC road games: N.C. State on Sept. 20 and Virginia on Oct. 11. The rest: Tulane and Alabama-Birmingham on the road, Houston, Memphis, Marshall and Texas-El Paso at home, plus the C-USA title game.

"Winning them all is incredibly difficult in any league. Each ECU game seems manageable, based on the offense's versatility behind quarterback Patrick Pinkney (41 completions in 51 passes so far) and the running brigade that replaced Chris Johnson (1,423 yards rushing in 2007). Coach Skip Holtz, who has a far smaller ego than his preening father, Lou, praised the defense for containing West Virginia's Patrick White (97 yards rushing, 72 yards passing). The Mountaineers rolled up 599 yards in a 48-7 romp over ECU last year but gained just 251 this time.

"That's why ECU folks want to party like it's 1991, when the Pirates rallied past N.C. State 37-34 in the Peach Bowl and finished No. 9."

Don't remind me.

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