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East Carolina607720
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East Carolina (3-2) at Virginia (2-3)

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 11th, 12:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Scott Stadium (61,500) -- Charlottesville, Virginia. Television:Raycom. Home Record: ECU 1-1, Virginia 2-1. Away Record: ECU 1-1, Virginia 0-2. Neutral Record: ECU 1-0, Virginia 0-0. Conference Record: ECU 1-1, Virginia 1-1. Series Record: East Carolina leads, 2-0.

GAME NOTES: The East Carolina Pirates will try to right their ship this weekend, as they tussle with the Virginia Cavaliers in a non-league affair at Scott Stadium. After opening the season with three straight wins, including two against ranked opponents, ECU was sitting pretty and in the Top 25 for the first time since 1999. However, with a target on their back, the Pirates found teams taking them a little bit more serious and that resulted in two consecutive losses. After dropping a 30-24 overtime decision to NC State, ECU was downed in its Conference USA opener, 41-24, to Houston on September 27th. Now out of the national rankings, the Pirates had the prior week off to regroup and refocus on their last non-conference opponent of the season in Virginia. Speaking of the Cavs, they are coming off their finest effort of the season, a 31-0 blanking of Maryland last weekend. It was quite a turnaround by Virginia, which had been outscored 128-20 in three previous games against FBS teams. The shutout was also the second of the season, as the Cavs also blanked Richmond (16-0) for their only other win. The Cavs and Pirates have met just twice previously and ECU has come out on top in each encounter. The most recent battle took place in 2006, when the Pirates notched a 31-21 victory in Greenville.

The Pirates have scored at least 24 points in all of their games this season and that is certainly a positive for an offense that is averaging a modest 345.8 total ypg. In the team's last game, ECU had some trouble moving the ball, gaining just 275 total yards in a loss to Houston. The Pirates also turned the ball over three times and that is area they have struggled in of late. Quarterback Patrick Pinkney accounted for two miscues against Houston and he threw for 100 yards and a touchdown before being pulled in favor of backup Rob Kass. Despite some issues hanging onto the ball, Pinkney has been effective for ECU, completing 68.1 percent of his tosses for 203.4 passing ypg this season. If he were to struggle early on, don't be surprised to see Kass get the call once again. Whomever winds up under center will surely be looking in the direction of Dwayne Harris, the team's leading receiver with 33 catches for 348 yards. In the backfield, Brandon Simmons paces ECU with 226 yards for the year, with 86 of those yards come versus Houston.

As the season has progressed, ECU's defense has become more vulnerable and is now giving up 362.2 total ypg, including 141.2 ypg on the ground. The defense though, has made countless big plays on the year and has forced 12 turnovers and recorded the same amount of sacks. The Pirates however, are coming off their worst defensive performance of the season, allowing 621 total yards in a loss to Houston. The unit gave up 401 of those yards through the air and allowed Houston to convert 37-of-45 pass attempts. On a positive note, the Pirates did manage to generate three sacks and four turnovers and that includes an 11-yard interception return for a touchdown by Emanuel Davis. Van Eskridge led ECU with 13 stops and a fumble recovery in the loss, while Zack Slate had eight tackles and a pair of sacks. C.J. Wilson added a sack of his own and he tops the roster with 4.5 for the year.

In a complete surprise, the Cavs racked up 427 total yards, including 201 on the ground, in a 31-0 rout of Maryland last weekend. It was a big time improvement for Virginia, which entered the game averaging under 10 ppg and 255 total ypg. Quarterback Marc Verica finally broke through, as he completed 25-of-34 pass attempts for 226 yards and the team's first two passing touchdowns of the season. He also added a score on the ground. It was a great effort by Verica, who went into the contest having not thrown a touchdown against five interceptions. The Cavs as a team, had nine picks without a passing touchdown prior to last weekend. Kevin Ogletree stepped up against Maryland and he snared five balls for 100 yards and a pair of scores. Despite the team's lack of success through the air on the season, Ogletree has done a solid job in leading the team with 27 catches and 318 yards. Tailback Cedric Peerman also came alive last weekend, rushing for 110 yards and a score and catching seven passes for 23 yards. Mikell Simpson even added 77 yards on 14 totes. Prior to last weekend, the duo had combined for just 204 rushing yards for the season.

Virginia posted shutouts in both of its wins this season, while allowing an average of 42.6 ppg over its three losses, clearly a big difference. Overall, the Cavs are yielding 154.4 ypg on the ground and 209.2 ypg through the air, with nine forced turnovers and 12 sacks to their credit. In a blanking of Maryland last weekend, Virginia permitted just 302 total yards, including a mere 79 via the run. The unit allowed only 13 first downs, while generating a pair of turnovers. Antonio Appleby led the charge with eight stops, and Clint Sintim got into the mix with seven tackles and the team's lone sack. For the season, Appleby is tied with Jon Cooper for the team-lead in tackles with 35, while Sintim stands aloe with a club-best five sacks to his name. Ras-I Dowling is another player to keep an eye out for, as he has picked off three passes, including one versus Maryland.

The Pirates had extra time to prepare for this game, so the advantage goes to them, even though they are on the road. ECU is good enough on defense to slow down Virginia, while the offense has plenty of talent to put up points for the victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 30, Virginia 24

10/08 10:34:01 ET