East Carolina (6-1 C-USA, 6-4 overall) found itself at a crossroads in its season following a 56-28 loss to Navy nearly three weeks ago. The following week, the Pirates responded in a huge play with a dominant 48-28 win against a red-hot Houston Cougars team to clinch bowl-eligibility.
That is the last time we saw this team take the field.
During the bye week, the Pirates were able to get healthy and with the exception of Justin Dixon, who has missed the lion share of the season with a knee injury, the team has no major injury concerns. The team also used the extra time to get an early start on preparation on Tulane. Here are some things they learned.
Tulane (2-4 C-USA, 2-8 overall) enters this game on a down-note after coming up short against a Memphis Tigers team that lost to the Pirates 41-7 earlier this season. The team is head-manned by first year coach Curtis Johnson, who was on the New Orleans Saints coaching staff that won Super Bowl XLIV.
Johnson leads the Green Wave into the game with a high-powered passing offense that is led by senior quarterback Ryan Griffin. Griffin is in the midst of his fourth season starting under center and averages over 300 yards passing in 2012. He has tossed 16 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions.
Griffin’s go-to man is junior wide receiver Ryan Grant, who has 53 receptions this season along with 6 touchdowns. Even though the Green Wave are what many would call a “pass happy” offense, they still have a pair of running backs to watch out for in the backfield with Rob Kelley and Orleans Darkwa.
ECU leads the all-time series 9-2 and has won the last four meetings between the schools, including last year’s game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, which the Pirates won 34-13.
The keys to the game for the Pirates will be to get to Griffin on the defensive-side of the ball, not give up the big plays over the top, and not allow the quiet, dreary atmosphere of Tulane football in the Superdome swallow them in. Just as we saw in their last game against Houston, the ECU defense was able to get to the quarterback and subsequently, get them out of rhythm.
I don’t see the Pirates dropping this game, given that they are the superior team and they had an extra week of preparation.
Prediction: East Carolina- 38, Tulane- 23.