ECU’s hot start Thursday night against preseason favorite Central Florida no doubt had Pirates fans checking the league’s bowl ties.
The Pirates took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards for a touchdown. One play after forcing a three-and-out, Shane Carden hit Justin Hardy for a 76-yard touchdown. Just like that ECU led 14-0, and a 3-0 C-USA start looked promising.
Then UCF returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, kept the Pirates out of the end zone the rest of the way and raced to a 40-20 victory.
UCF recently appealed its bowl ban to the NCAA, so it’s possible the East Division-leading Knights could play in the C-USA title game.
Marshall, the only other possible threat in the East, takes on West Division leader Tulsa on Saturday.
Memphis, Southern Miss and Alabama-Birmingham still are searching for their first victory.