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AAC: Early test for Memphis

Navy Memphis Football

Memphis head coach Mike Norvell celebrates after defensive back Austin Hall intercepted a pass to seal a 30-27 win over Navy in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The American Athletic Conference has an opportunity to build on Saturday’s football upset by Cincinnati at UCLA with more games against Power Five opponents this week, but an in-league matchup also is notable with Memphis traveling to face Navy in an AAC West showdown.

Navy began its season with a 59-41 loss at Hawaii, but the Midshipmen and their unique triple-option rushing attack are always a threat in the conference. Memphis, the AAC West preseason favorite, is a lead contender to possibly knock off Central Florida and win the league championship this year.

“It’s going to be a big game for us and we are definitely excited about it, but it is unique with a game that we know is going to clearly impact the divisional race,” Memphis coach Mike Norvell said of playing Navy during Week 2.

The Tigers went 10-3 a year ago and they took care of their Week 1 tune-up with a 66-14 home win against Mercer. New quarterback Brady White, an Arizona State graduate transfer, went 22-of-28 for 358 yards and five touchdowns in his debut.

Memphis opened as a four-point favorite against Navy, which ran 49 times for 326 yards in the loss at Hawaii.

“They basically cruised in their first game and had a great, great showing,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said of UM. “Fortunately we are at home and we normally play well at home and are a hard team to beat at home. Hopefully all those factors can help us against a really good Memphis team.”

What to watch

This weekend’s American Athletic Conference slate features four of its teams hosting Power Five opponents.

It begins Friday night when TCU from the Big 12 travels to play at SMU.

Two Atlantic Coast Conference teams hit the road Saturday afternoon for AAC action with North Carolina at East Carolina, and Georgia Tech at South Florida after both of those teams won their opener. The fourth game is Pac-12 member Arizona at Houston on Saturday at noon.

Also this week, Tulsa plays at Texas and Connecticut makes a long trip to Boise State.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

ECU

September 19, 2018

Joe Dooley’s second stint as East Carolina’s basketball coach will begin Nov. 6 with a home against Delaware State, which is part of the Pirates playing seven games in Minges Coliseum in November and 18 total for the 2018-19 season.

ECU released its schedule Wednesday afternoon and it…

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September 19, 2018

East Carolina could benefit from touchbacks and fair catches in Saturday night’s football matchup at South Florida.

USF freshman Terrence Horne raced to two kickoff return touchdowns already in a win against Georgia Tech on Sept. 8 to make him the only player in the country this year with…

081218ECUfootball-6.jpg

September 19, 2018

Temple made a big jump in the American Athletic Conference football beat writer rankings, and East Carolina also moved up a spot to eighth this week.

The Sunshine State occupies the top two spots, led again by steady Central Florida. South Florida takes over second place, has a 3-0 record and hosts…

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September 18, 2018

East Carolina’s football team had a rare opportunity to be unified and fully concentrated on watching South Florida play at Illinois last Saturday, a game that ended with the Bulls rallying for 18 points in the fourth quarter for a 25-19 win and 3-0 start to their season.

ECU sought safe…

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September 18, 2018

A win at a Pac-12 opponent, a shutout and then a record-setting outing on offense.

Cincinnati is 3-0 and riding high in the American Athletic Conference football ranks, following a Week 1 upset at UCLA with a 21-0 win against Miami of Ohio and then Saturday it beat Alabama A&M 63-7 behind a…

Cincinnati UCLA Football

September 17, 2018

The use of FaceTime on phones has been invaluable for the East Carolina football team, which avoided the direct hit of Hurricane Florence when it left for Orlando, Fla., last Wednesday but in many ways still is dealing with the aftermath.

That is especially true for players who have family in…

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September 15, 2018

East Carolina football is under reconstruction.

For the first time last Saturday, some progress was evident on the field inside the Pirates' home stadium currently surrounded by scaffolding and temporary fencing. That is evidence of a bold $60 million upgrade in the works.

The men who wear the…

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September 15, 2018

East Carolina was in last place for the first two installments of the American Athletic Conference writers’ power rankings, but after the Pirates’ 41-19 rout of North Carolina they moved up to ninth.

ECU (at Virginia Tech) and league frontrunner UCF (at N.C. State) had their games…

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September 14, 2018

There was a play last Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium when a North Carolina safety was staring at an East Carolina backfield with two guys totaling 463 pounds on a third-and-3 play near midfield.

The UNC safety keyed on the wrong player during the read option, chasing after 6-foot-3, 236-pound…

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September 12, 2018

East Carolina’s football team bused from Greenville to Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday and will remain there until its next game.

The Pirates’ game Saturday at Virginia Tech was canceled Tuesday because of Hurricane Florence and a release by ECU on Wednesday referenced issues of…

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