C-USA chatter: ECU feeling good with Va. Tech on horizon

cwright@newsobserver.comSeptember 6, 2013 

SPORTS FBC-FAU-ECU 2 RA

East Carolina running back Vintavious Cooper reacts after scoring in the first half against Florida Atlantic at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina, Thursday, September 5, 2013. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)

CHUCK LIDDY — MCT

East Carolina woke up Friday 2-0, resting comfortably after Thursday night’s win and looking ahead to next Saturday’s huge home encounter with Virginia Tech.

And who can blame them?

ECU was picked to win its division and received a vote in this week’s coaches’ poll. While the Hokies aren’t what they used to be (they allowed two returns for touchdowns against Alabama, a most un-Hokie-like occurrence), they still are a big enough brand name to bolster ECU’s street cred further should the Pirates win.

The league certainly needs such a result after going 0-4 against BCS teams in the opening week.

Rice scored 31 last week against Texas A&M, which was impressive, but N.C. State held Louisiana Tech to 14, FIU scored just 10 against Maryland and FAU managed just two field goals against Miami.

Three more ranked teams are on the docket Saturday, and upset opportunities are limited.

No. 22 Nebraska did not look impressive in its 37-34 opening win against Wyoming, but Southern Miss hasn’t looked impressive since Larry Fedora left. For the Eagles to have a chance, QB Allan Bridgford, a fifth-year transfer from Cal, will have to duplicate last week’s effort, when he passed for 377 yards. No chance Bridgford sneaks up on Nebraska, though, not after the Huskers allowed 602 yards in their opener.

Alabama-Birmingham returns to LSU, and there is no chance the No. 9-ranked Tigers have forgotten what happened the last time UAB visited, either. UAB won 13-10 on a last-second field goal in 2000. Blazers receiver/return specialist Jamarcus Nelson led all FBS schools with 367 all-purpose yards in Week 1. Alas, Troy isn’t LSU.

Finally, Texas-San Antonio welcomes No. 13 Oklahoma State to the Alamodome. UTSA held New Mexico in check last week. Slowing down OSU dual-threat QB J.W. Walsh likely will prove more problematic. Walsh passed for 135 yards and ran for 125 yards and a score last week in a win over Mississippi State.

Chris Wright

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