Memphis (1-4) at East Carolina (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina Television: CSS. Home Record: Memphis 1-2, ECU 2-0. Away Record: Memphis 0-2, ECU 1-3. Neutral Record: Memphis 0-0, ECU 0-0. Conference Record: Memphis 1-0, ECU 2-1. Series Record: East Carolina leads, 14-6.
GAME NOTES: With the first one now out of the way, Justin Fuente tries to earn his second career victory when he leads the Memphis Tigers into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for a Conference USA battle with the East Carolina Pirates.
It took five games, but Memphis finally delivered its first-year head coach his inaugural win with the program last week as the Tigers defeated Rice, 14-10, at home. Memphis lost to Tennessee-Martin, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee, and Duke in its first four outings. The victory also snapped an eight-game losing streak which dated back to last season.
The Pirates went cold in the second half which led to a 40-20 loss to the UCF Knights last Thursday night. The loss dropped their overall record to 3-3 and their C-USA mark to 2-1. ECU is very tough to beat at home, especially in league play. It has won 14 of its last 16 games at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium against Conference USA opposition.
This will be the 21st meeting between these C-USA rivals. This will be the last meeting in league game setting as Memphis is set to depart the conference for the Big East in the upcoming summer. ECU won its sixth straight in the series with a 35-17 victory over the Tigers at Liberty Memorial Stadium last year.
The Tigers have had trouble posting points this season and rank 100th in the FBS with an average of 22.3 points per contest. Its last time out, Memphis tallied only 245 yards of total offense despite walking away victorious.
In the win over Rice, Jacob Karam was used in moderation. The junior QB completed eight of his 12 passing attempts for just 70 yards. Karam has now been held under 100 passing yards in consecutive games.
Marcus Rucker (263 yards, three TDs, 20 catches) and Keiwone Malone (272 yards, 25 catches, two TDs) are the only two Tigers with double-digit catches and more than 100 yards for Memphis
Tailback Jerrell Rhodes has amassed a team-high 224 yards and two touchdowns on 52 carries in the struggling Tigers' offense. However, Jai Steib (86 yards, 32 carries) is listed as the team's starting running back and Jaquise Cook (57 yards, 14 carries) is number two.
The Memphis defense is coming off of its best performance of the season. The Tigers limited Rice to 221 yards of total offense while recording season-highs in sacks (two) and tackles for loss (seven).
Charles Harris leads the unit in tackles with 48, while Lonnie Ballentine has also been around the ball a lot as well (37 tackles and two interceptions). The Tigers have three sacks total as a team after last week's defensive outburst.
The ECU offense has been marginal at best this season, scoring 20.6 ppg on fewer than 350 yards per game, but it is coming off a solid performance against UTEP, piling up 475 total yards.
Shane Carden took over as the starting quarterback early on the season and has shown steady progression each time out, completing 61.6 percent of his passes (93-of-151) for 991 yards, but he has thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four).
Justin Hardy has made Carden's life as a first-year starter much easier by reeling in everything that comes his way. Hardy has more than twice as many yards (480) as any other receiver on ECU and five of the team's six touchdown grabs.
Vintavious Cooper is the go-to-guy out of the backfield for the Pirates. The junior tailback leads the team with 362 yards on 69 carries.
The Pirates have a .500 record despite having a defense that allows 6.1 more points than the offense scores (26.7 ppg). The unit has played well in terms of forcing turnovers however, recording five interceptions and six fumble recoveries.
Damon Magazu (42 tackles), Jeremy Grove (42 tackles, 3.5 TFL, two FF) and Chip Thompson (26 tackles, two INT) anchor the defense. The team has 10 sacks this season, but no player has more than one.
Memphis had a big week last week, but things will be much different in Greenville in front of a rowdy crowd filled with Pirate fans. Winning on the road is never easy and the Tigers will be reminded of that this weekend as Carden picks apart Memphis.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 38, Memphis 17
10/10 10:54:29 ET