East Carolina (8-2) at NC State (3-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 12:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583) -- Raleigh, North
Carolina. Television: ACC Network. Home Record: ECU 5-1, NCST 3-3. Away
Record: ECU 3-1, NCST 0-4. Neutral Record: ECU 0-0, NCST 0-0. Conference
Record: ECU 6-1, NCST 0-7. Series Record: NC State leads, 16-11.
GAME NOTES: The East Carolina Pirates take aim at their first five-game
winning streak since 1999 as they take a step out of Conference USA action to
visit the ACC's NC State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Pirates coasted to a 63-14 rout over UAB last week in their final home
game of the season to maintain their position atop the C-USA East Division
standings. ECU's victory set up a show down with Marshall next week for the
divisional title and a berth in the C-USA Championship game. Coach Ruffin
McNeill has led his alma mater to an 8-2 record, which is the best start since
1999. ECU is 3-1 on the road this season, which includes a 55-31 victory at
North Carolina. The Pirates only setbacks came courtesy of a home loss to
Virginia Tech (15-10) and an overtime defeat at Tulsa (36-33).
Coach Dave Doeren's Wolfpack will be looking to snap their six-game losing
streak that dropped them to a 3-7 overall record. Although Doeren won back-to-
back conference championships at Northern Illinois before arriving in Raleigh,
NC State is the only team left without a win in ACC play. The Wolfpack will
have one final chance to secure a league win as they close out their regular
season next week versus Maryland.
This will be the 28th meeting between these schools on the gridiron and the
22nd at Carter-Finley Stadium. NC State owns a 16-11 record versus the
Pirates, although ECU earned a 33-27 overtime win in Greenville in the most
recent encounter on Oct. 16, 2010.
The Pirates have been sensational offensively en route to averages of 41.5
points and 463.3 total yards per game. Due to their highly productive aerial
attack which ranks eighth nationally (341.2 ypg), they have been able to
outscore their last four opponents by an average of 36.3 points per game. ECU
showed it is not one-dimensional last week as it amassed a season-high 278
yards on the ground, although junior quarterback Shane Carden still managed to
rack up 347 yards and tie his career-high with five touchdown passes.
Vintavious Cooper also had a monster performance as he racked up 126 yards and
three touchdowns on 15 carries. Breon Allen contributed 92 yards on 13 totes.
Carden is sixth among FBS signal callers in passing yards per game (332) and
has completed 72.5 percent of his throws for 29 scores with only seven
interceptions. He has consistently connected with Justin Hardy, who has made
at least three receptions in every game of his career. Only three players in
the nation tallied more catches than Hardy, who has turned 87 receptions into
1,047 yards and seven TDs to pace the C-USA in all receiving categories.
McNeill's defensive unit is surrendering only 337.9 total yards per game,
which is the lowest average in the C-USA. ECU is especially strong against the
run as its opponents are netting just over three yards per carry and 101.4 ypg
on the ground, which gives it the eighth best rushing defense in the nation.
Derrel Johnson has anchored the unit by registering 62 total tackles, 10.5
tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. ECU's excellence against the run and high-
octane offense forces its opposition to pass and it has taken advantage with
The Wolfpack are going to have a tough time ending their losing slide if their
offense cannot step up its play to match Carden and company. NC State is
netting just 22.5 points and 405 total yards per game. It failed to establish
the run last week its 38-21 loss at Boston College, gaining only 35 yards on
26 attempts. Pete Thomas started under center and completed 22-of-33 passes
for 207 yards and a score. Jumichael Ramos made some plays at wideout to tally
five catches, for 109 yards and one TD.
The Wolfpack will struggle to compete with ECU if they fail to establish the
run as Thomas has hardly been reliable. The junior signal caller has completed
just over 60 percent of his passes for 1,667 yards with nine interceptions and
four touchdowns. Brandon Mitchell hasn't fared much better with six
interceptions to his credit. Sophomore tailback Shadrach Thornton is leading
back with an average of 67.3 yards per game on the ground.
ECU could receive another big performance out of Cooper against NC State,
which allowed BC's Andre Williams to set an ACC record for rushing in a game
with 339 yards, which is also the most tallied by any player in the FBS this
season. While the Wolfpack are very weak versus the run, they are ranked third
in the ACC in pass defense (209.7). Senior corner Dontae Johnson managed to
pick off two passes last week after coming into the contest with only one
interception on the campaign. Senior linebacker Robert Caldwell has recorded
87 tackles, including 10.5 TFL.
The Pirates have a chance to make a statement and build momentum for their
very crucial matchup with Marshall on deck. NC State is going to come out
hungry for a positive result, but it will not be able to keep up with the
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 38, NC State 28
11/20 10:40:37 ET
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