C-USA chatter: ECU going to bowl but not CUSA title game

November 29, 2013 

East Carolina is going to a bowl.

The Pirates are not going to the Conference USA championship game, however.

ECU was knocked out early Friday in its winner-take-all matchup at Marshall. The Pirates will point to many miscues and missed opportunities – Shane Carden threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown – that kept them from hosting next week’s C-USA championship game.

One play didn’t decide this outcome, though. Marshall manhandled the Pirates from start to finish in a 59-28 thrashing.

Marshall jumped to a 24-0 lead. It allowed ECU to score on consecutive drives just once.

The most devastating drive came on Marshall’s second possession, when the Thundering Herd moved 97 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. Rakeem Cato, who might have clinched the league’s offensive player of the year award that seemed destined for Carden, completed passes for 27, 19 and 49 yards. And the rout was on.

The question now becomes how quickly can the Pirates recover from a loss most reminiscent of their 2010 bowl season, when they allowed 45 or more points seven times.

•  C-USA championship scenarios: Marshall, the East Division champion, likely will host the title game based on a higher projected BCS ranking, but it won’t know its opponent until late Saturday.

Rice leads the West and will win the division if it beats Tulane on Saturday afternoon.

A Rice loss will open the door for Tulane and North Texas.

Tulane will win the division if it beats Rice and Texas San Antonio loses to Louisiana Tech.

Texas San Antonio will win the division if it beats Louisiana Tech and Rice loses to Tulane.

•  Bowl watch: Florida Atlantic became the eighth team to qualify for the league’s six berths. The Owls completed the list by beating rival Florida International on Friday. League organizers have expressed hope that all eight will find a bowl spot.

Chris Wright

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