Nov 7, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA;   Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) runs in his third touchdown of the night in the fourth quarter of the American Athletic Conference football game between the University of Houston Cougars and the University of Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. The Bearcats continued their undefeated campaign with a 38-10 win over Houston. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY NETWORK

News Articles

No. 7 Cincinnati faces struggling East Carolina next

Second-year East Carolina coach Mike Houston aspires to lift the Pirates to the heights Cincinnati has attained under Luke Fickell in his fourth season as coach of the Bearcats.

The Pirates (1-5, 1-4 American Athletic Conference) will find out where they stand Friday night when they visit No. 7 Cincinnati (6-0, 4-0).

“It’s an exciting matchup for our players,” Houston said. “Being able to go on the road against an opponent of Cincinnati’s caliber and playing on a national stage has our players and staff excited.”

Houston, who was 37-6 at FCS school James Madison with a national title in 2016 and a runner-up finish the following season, is attempting to rebuild an East Carolina program that has not won more than one conference game in a season since 2017.

The Pirates finished with three consecutive 3-9 overall records before going 4-8 last season.

Even though ECU has lost three in a row, junior quarterback Holton Ahlers said he feels the culture has changed for the better since Houston’s arrival.

“We know that we’re so close. We are as close as we’ve been since any of us have been here,” he said. “The brighter days are ahead, and that’s what we’re going to continue to fight for. Our first chance is Cincinnati.

“We had a good game vs. Cincinnati last year, and we’re going to go up there and try to pull off the upset against a great team.”

Last season, the Pirates led the Bearcats, who at the time were ranked 17th in the nation, 40-28 going into the fourth quarter before Cincinnati outscored them 18-3 to win 46-43 in Greenville, N.C.

Fickell’s Bearcats know what it’s like to be the underdog, having gone 4-8 in his first season in 2017.

“We should’ve only won one game,” he said.

Now the Bearcats, carrying a program-record 18-game home winning streak, are in the conversation to be the first team from a non-Power 5 conference to make the College Football Playoff.

“Why not? We’re putting in the work as much as other teams,” Cincinnati running back Gerrid Doaks said. “Why not get a shot? Our goal is to make a statement every week. Go out there and dominate.”

That domination begins with a defense that ranks fifth nationally with 11.7 points allowed per game.

“Just knowing our defense is playing at the high level they play at, it gives us all the confidence in the world to go out and make plays,” Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder said. “It puts us in the best position we can be.”

The Bearcats are also 10th in rush defense (93.3 yards per game), which is bad news for East Carolina because the Pirates ran for just 35 yards on 29 attempts in a 38-21 loss to Tulane on Saturday.

“Cincinnati is the top team in our league and will be until someone knocks them off,” Houston said. “I’ve been there. I’ve been the bunch that is at the top. The tough thing about it is that you’ll get everyone’s best shot each week. It’s hard to get the top, but it’s also hard to stay there.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

Upcoming Games

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

Hawaii

UCLA

@

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

Southern Utah

San Jose State (24)

@

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

Nebraska

Illinois

@

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

UCONN

Fresno State

@

Aug 28th, 3:33 PM

UTEP

New Mexico State

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

Jacksonville State

UAB

@

Sep 2nd, 12:00 PM

East Carolina

Appalachian State

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

LIU

Florida International (FIU)

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Weber State

Utah

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Southern Utah

Arizona State

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Western Illinois

Ball State (23)

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

North Carolina (18)

Virginia Tech

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

USF

NC State

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

UC Davis

Tulsa

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Ohio State (2)

Minnesota

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Houston Baptist

New Mexico

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Eastern Washington

UNLV

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Northern Colorado

Colorado

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

St. Francis-PA

Eastern Michigan

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Old Dominion

Wake Forest

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Clemson (3)

Georgia (7)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Duke

Charlotte

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

The Citadel

Coastal Carolina (14)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Florida Atlantic

Florida (13)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Central Michigan

Missouri

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Colgate

Boston College

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Montana

Washington

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Northern Iowa

Iowa State (9)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Louisiana-Monroe

Kentucky

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Bowling Green

Tennessee

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Fresno State

Oregon

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Eastern Illinois

South Carolina

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Army

Georgia State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

East Tennessee State

Vanderbilt

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Kansas State

Stanford

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Kent State

Texas A&M (4)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Akron

Auburn

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Utah State

Washington State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Southern University

Troy

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Rice

Arkansas

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

NIU

Georgia Tech

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Nevada

California

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Missouri State

Oklahoma State (20)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

LA Tech

Mississippi State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Monmouth-New Jersey

Middle Tennessee

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

San Jose State (24)

USC (21)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Southern Miss

South Alabama

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Northwestern State

North Texas

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Louisiana-Lafayette (15)

Texas (19)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Wagner

Buffalo (25)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Baylor

Texas State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Syracuse

Ohio

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Alabama (1)

Miami-FL (22)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Duquesne

TCU

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Central Arkansas

Arkansas State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Norfolk State

Toledo

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

LSU

UCLA

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Arizona

BYU (11)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Bethune-Cookman

UTEP

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Campbell

Liberty (17)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Tennessee-Martin

WKU

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Miami-OH

Cincinnati (8)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Holy Cross

UCONN

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Houston

Texas Tech

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Nicholls State

Memphis

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Massachusetts

Pittsburgh

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Boise State

UCF

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

William & Mary

Virginia

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

South Dakota

Kansas

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Abilene Christian

SMU

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Marshall

Navy

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Oklahoma (6)

Tulane

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

UTSA

Illinois

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

New Mexico State

San Diego State

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Portland State

Hawaii

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Indiana (12)

Iowa (16)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

West Virginia

Maryland

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Western Michigan

Michigan

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Michigan State

Northwestern (10)

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Lafayette

Air Force

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Montana State

Wyoming

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Oregon State

Purdue

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Temple

Rutgers

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

Penn State

Wisconsin

@

Sep 4th, 3:33 PM

South Dakota State

Colorado State

@

Sep 4th, 6:00 PM

Gardner-Webb

Georgia Southern

@