College Football Preview: East Carolina at SMU
DALLAS ó East Carolina finds itself in some pretty familiar territory. The Pirates’ challenge: Staying there.
The defending Conference USA champions are in first place in the East Division heading into today night’s game at SMU.
“There are no weeks off in this league,” coach Skip Holtz said.
East Carolina (3-2, 2-0) is looking to open league play with three straight wins for the first time since 2001, but this interdivisional matchup with the Mustangs (2-2, 1-0) sets up as a shootout. SMU ranks 11th nationally in passing offense, and receiver Emmanuel Sanders has 29 career touchdowns ó tied with Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant for most among active players.
Bo Levi Mitchell has thrown for 1,209 yards ó but has been intercepted at least twice in every game. That’s a welcome sign for an East Carolina defense that, led by safety Van Eskridge, has picked off eight passes.
“They’re throwing it all over the yard and putting up huge numbers,” Holtz said of an SMU offense that averages 304 yards passing. “It’s going to be a challenge for our defense this week. SMU is going to be totally different from anything we’ve played so far this season. The difference is the space SMU, Houston or UTEP puts you in. They make you defend the entire field, sideline to sideline. They’re going to score a lot of points.”
The Pirates seem to have found themselves after a 1-2 start dashed dreams of a big sixth season for Patrick Pinkney.