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East Carolina Pirates vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack Game Preview

Meeting a Power 5 opponent creates an immediate opportunity for ECU

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, August 31

Game Time: 12:00pm ET

Records: ECU 0-0 (0-0 AAC), NCST 0-0 (0-0 ACC)

Line: NC State -17; O/U 53.5

Venue: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC

TV: ACC Network

The new era of East Carolina football is about to begin with Coach Mike Houston — the former James Madison coach whose team lost to NC State 24-13 last year — taking over a program who should be much improved. The game should be more interesting than last season’s 58-3 romp by NC State.

This is the only Power 5 matchup for the Pirates so this will be stepping stone for the rest of the year.

NCAA Football: Connecticut at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Why East Carolina Will Win

ECU returns seven starters on offense with most of those being at the skilled positions, leading with QB Holton Ahlers. Along with a strong offensive line with experience where pass protection will not be an issue, an opportunity may arise if they have a chance in the second half.

NC State will not be in a immediate rhythm with a major overhaul on the offensive side. With three-year starter Ryan Finley gone to the NFL, the Wolfpack will need to adjust to a new leader on offense. The defense will not be catching a break especially after the indefinite suspensions of linebacker Delvontae Harris and cornerback Juan Powell after being accused of breaking into a car this past weekend.

The new coaching staff is known for bringing the heat defensively, and will take some chances with aggressive defensive scheming to rattle the Wolfpack offensively.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - North Carolina State v Texas A&M Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Why NC State will Win

The Wolfpack will keep the gameplan simple this week in order to get their team into the flow with so many new pieces being implemented into starting roles. For the Wolfpack everything will start in the trenches to dictate from the get go.

The Pirates have to find a running game early on to be successful. They have to prove they can shove someone around while the defensive front is the focal point of the Wolfpack.

The team will rotate frequently to dominate ECU. Then working in their proto-typical play-action off of the running game could allow the team to control the flow of the game.

Players to Watch


QB: Holton Ahlers

WR: Deondre Farrier

DT: Alex Turner

DB: Davondre Robinson


LG: Joe Sculthorpe

QB: Matt McKay

DE: James Smith-Williams

LB: Isaiah Moore


It is going to be hard to see the Pirates pulling this one out. They will show flashes of what this team can potentially be, but I doubt it will be enough.

NC State will make this game a battle in the trenches and it will work. The team will ease their young quarterback into the game relying on running the ball. The defense will shine and take over in the second half.

NC State 38, East Carolina 17