Memphis (3-4) at East Carolina (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 18th, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (43,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina. Television:CSS. Home Record: Memphis 2-2, ECU 1-1. Away Record: Memphis 1-2, ECU 1-2. Neutral Record: Memphis 0-0, ECU 1-0. Conference Record: Memphis 1-2, ECU 1-1. Series Record: East Carolina leads, 10-6.
GAME NOTES: Conference USA action is set to take place at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium this weekend, as the Memphis Tigers tangle with the East Carolina Pirates in Greenville. The Tigers enter the tilt on a down note, as they suffered a 35-28 setback to Louisville on October 10th. The loss brought the team's three-game win streak to a halt and dropped the program to just 3-4 overall. Memphis now turns its focus back to C-USA play, where it has gone 1-2 thus far. As for ECU, its struggles continued this past weekend with a 35-20 loss at Virginia. It was the third straight loss by the Pirates, who were one of the surprise stories following a 3-0 start to the season and a national- ranking. ECU has split a pair of league games thus far, defeating Tulane (28-24) on the road and losing at home to Houston (41-24). The Pirates however, do lead the all-time series with Memphis, 10-6, and that includes a 56-40 triumph in last season's meeting.
The Tigers have been able to move the ball on the ground and through the air this season, averaging 181.9 rushing ypg and an even better 283.4 passing ypg. Last week versus Louisville, Memphis rolled up 481 yards of total offense, but couldn't overcome three turnovers in a 38-25 loss. The miscues were certainly costly and a bit of a surprise considering the Tigers had committed only eight through the first six games. Quarterback Arkelon Hall accounted for two of the turnover last weekend, but he still did a good job in throwing for 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also had 22 yards and a third score on the ground. For the year, Hall has now thrown for 1,806 yards with 10 touchdowns against six picks and that is to go with 146 rushing yards and two more scores. Carlos Singleton has been his favorite target with 38 catches for 605 yards and two touchdowns. Last week, Singleton got involved by making five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort. Tailback Curtis Steele had 80 yards on 16 carries against Louisville and he continues to top the roster with 658 rushing yards for the season.
Defensively, Memphis has been about average this season, giving up 363.0 total ypg. The unit has struggled a bit against the run, though, surrendering 169.9 ypg and 12 touchdowns thus far. Creating turnovers has also been an issue for the Tigers, who have forced 10 on the year. The defense, though, is coming off a stout effort in which it held Louisville to jut 299 total yards. The defense was only responsible for two touchdowns allowed to Louisville, while the special teams cost the Tigers two scores and their offense another. Memphis however, only forced one turnover and recorded no sacks and that certainly didn't help matters. Alton Starr led the club in defeat with 14 stops, giving him a team-high 51 for the season. Clinton McDonald though, was held to just one tackle last weekend, but he is still a dangerous pass rusher with seven sacks to his credit for the year.
The Pirates aren't all that explosive of a team on offense and they head into this weekend's bout averaging a modest 24.5 ppg behind 335.7 total ypg. The offense is gaining a majority of its yards through the air, passing for 211.5 ypg, but has turned the ball over 13 times already. In a loss to Virginia last weekend, ECU's offense committed a pair of turnovers and managed just 285 total yards. Quarterback Patrick Pinkney was harassed all game long by the Virginia defense and despite being sacked six times he was able to throw for 196 yards and a touchdown. It was another mediocre effort by Pinkney, who is throwing for 202.2 ypg, with seven touchdowns against three picks on the year. Dwayne Harris has been his primary outlet thus far and he leads the team with 39 catches and 476 receiving yards. Last weekend, Harris hauled in six balls for 128 yards, although he was unable to find the end zone once again. Jonathan Williams found some success on the ground versus Virginia, as he rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 19 totes. It was a solid effort by Williams, who leads the team with just 272 yards and four scores on the season.
Over the last few weeks ECU's defense has been exploited and the unit is now giving up 373.5 total ypg, including 151.3 ypg on the ground. The defense though, has been able to make a few big plays to compensate for the yards allowed, as the unit has forced 14 turnovers to go with 13 sacks. Last weekend, the Pirates generated two turnovers and recorded once sack, but that wasn't nearly enough to make up for the 430 yards surrendered to Virginia. ECU was exploited by the Virginia's ground attack, which amassed 202 yards behind a 6.1 ypc average. Van Eskridge guided the defense with nine stops in the setback, while Zack Slate forced a fumble and logged a sack. For the year, Eskridge leads the team with 50 stops and Slate ranks second with 3.5 sacks.
ECU is in desperate need of a win, but Memphis has the type of offense that can get the job done on the road. As a matter of fact, go with the Tigers, who can lean on Hall to pass them to victory this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 31, East Carolina 24
10/15 10:31:16 ET