East Carolina’s first football game of the season will kick off at noon on Sept. 26.
ECU’s opener versus UCF was designated by the American Athletic Conference on Monday for a noon start time and it will be available to stream only on the subscriber-based ESPN-Plus service.
The game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is closed to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic and state guidelines on gatherings. It already was announced by ECU that attendance would be limited to essential game management and broadcast personnel and a limited number of media members.
“It’s something we’ve never experienced before, and especially when you factor in our fan base and our student body,” ECU second-year football coach Mike Houston said Friday when asked about the idea of no fans at games. “It’s one of the things that I think is a strength of our program is the passionate fans and the student section on game day. Certainly, that’s a factor that helps us, so not having that is going to be something we have to adjust to. It’s very much like what we’ve had (in preseason scrimmages).”
The Pirates held three intrasquad scrimmages at their home stadium. The final one was conducted Friday afternoon.
ECU went 1-3 in noon games a year ago, beating Connecticut and losing to N.C. State, SMU and Tulsa.
After hosting UCF, East Carolina is scheduled for road games versus Georgia State (Oct. 3) and South Florida (Oct. 10) before its second home game Oct. 17 against Navy.
UCF begins its season Saturday at Georgia Tech, which is 1-0 after a 16-13 upset win at Florida State. The Knights are ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25 poll and are listed as a 7.5-point favorite over Ga. Tech.
“I think we’ll be ready to play UCF in two weeks, so I feel good about that,” Houston said Friday. “I feel good about how far we’ve progressed since the middle of last week.”