Marshall’s 59-28 routing of East Carolina awarded the Thundering Herd the Conference-USA East Division title and the right to host the conference championship. With that, the Pirates now shift their focus towards their imminent bowl game.
As a member of C-USA, there are seven different bowl games up for grabs for ECU. Of course, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. is eliminated as a possibility because the No. 1 team in C-USA will represent the conference.
The remaining options are the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, the Heart of Dallas Bowl and the Military Bowl.
In recent years, ECU has competed in the Military Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl. Maryland defeated ECU 51-20 in the Military Bowl in 2010 and, most recently, the Pirates fell 43-34 to Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl.
Let’s take a look at ECU’s bowl options.
Military Bowl vs. ACC
The Military Bowl seems to be ECU’s most likely destination for postseason football.
The Pirates have impressed against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents this season. They own decisive victories over North Carolina and North Carolina State—both on the road—and held their own in a 15-10 loss to Virginia Tech.
Moreover, ECU would travel better to Annapolis, Md. than most other bowl options.
The ACC’s representative will likely come down to Syracuse (6-6, 4-4 ACC), Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-5) and Maryland (7-5, 3-5). Of the three, Maryland seems to be a frontrunner because of proximity and the story to be told in a rematch of 2010’s Military Bowl.
Beef O’Brady’s Bowl vs. ACC
Like the Military Bowl, there’s value in sending ECU to St. Petersburg, Fla. because of its history versus ACC teams this season.
The same teams most likely to play in the Military Bowl are also likely candidates to represent the ACC for the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, too. However, it’s hard to imagine Maryland playing in Florida when there’s a viable option for a bowl game in the Terrapins’ backyard.
That said, if the Pirates find themselves en route to Florida on Dec. 23, they’ll likely be meeting Syracuse or Pittsburgh there.
Since there’s no bowl eligible C-USA team that’s any closer to St. Petersburg, there’s a good chance Middle Tennessee could make the trip down south for the conference, which would leave ECU open for a rematch against Maryland.
New Orleans Bowl vs. No.1 Sun Belt
ECU earned a spot in last season’s New Orleans Bowl with a 8-4 (7-1 C-USA) record. However, a trip back to New Orleans doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the Pirates.
Tulane (7-5, 5-3) would be a viable option to represent C-USA in the New Orleans Bowl. The Green Wave own impressive victories over ECU and North Texas. Most importantly, they’re right there in New Orleans and should travel well, making for a great atmosphere.
Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl vs. MW No. 3
The Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl is often given the distinction of being the next-best bowl option for a C-USA team. That said, C-USA’s participant will probably be decided by the conference championship game between Marshall and Rice with the winning team heading to the Liberty Bowl and the losing team to this bowl.
That said, there are also four C-USA teams sitting on a 6-2 conference record: ECU, UTSA, Middle Tennessee State, and North Texas. There’s an outside chance that ECU, or even UTSA, could make the trek to Hawaii for a bowl game.
Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Big Ten No. 7
This one is relatively easy to eliminate ECU from. With North Texas’ fan base being in spitting distance from Dallas and the Mean Green being more than qualified for this bowl, it’s hard to see how the Pirates would find themselves in Texas on New Year’s.