Nov 13, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; East Carolina Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers (12) snaps the ball against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

News Articles

Pirates wrap up shortened season with visit from SMU

SMU had been one of a small group of programs largely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic, both from an in-house and scheduling perspective. That was until last weekend.

For the first time since their nonconference matchup against TCU was postponed Sept. 11, the Mustangs had their schedule interrupted when their American Athletic Conference game against Houston was rescheduled for Dec. 5, a result of COVID-19 issues within the Cougars’ program.

SMU played eight games over a nine-week stretch prior to the postponement with the Cougars, and the Mustangs (7-2, 4-2 American) will travel to East Carolina (2-6, 2-5) on Saturday to face the Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium feeling something foreign: rejuvenated after a week off.

“I think this time of year everybody’s beat up and from a physical standpoint we definitely were,” Mustangs coach Sonny Dykes said. “But I think probably as much as anything else mentally we were a little fatigued and a little tired. If you go back and look at our schedule really since our guys reported, we haven’t had consecutive days off since August sometime. And the reason we haven’t is we didn’t want our players to go home.

“I felt like from the very beginning if we could keep them together and keep them around people who were being tested, that would increase the likelihood of being able to play games and keep guys healthy. So that’s been our approach: we haven’t had a lot of days off.”

Once the Houston postponement was announced, Dykes lightened the midweek practice load, allowing the Mustangs time to regroup before resuming practice over the weekend. On Sunday, the Mustangs followed a morning weightlifting session with an afternoon practice, and Dykes was pleased with the way the players approached the workload, recognizing the benefit of rest.

The Mustangs had suffered a disappointing 28-24 loss at Tulsa the previous Saturday. Getting an extra week to recover could prove beneficial as SMU prepares for the closing stretch.

“I think our guys are in a lot better spot than they were at this time last week,” Dykes said. “Both mentally and physically.”

East Carolina had its first three games of the season wiped out. A bout with South Carolina was canceled when the SEC settled on a conference-only schedule. Nonconference games with Marshall and Norfolk State were taken off the books thanks to COVID-19 issues.

As a result, East Carolina will play its regular-season finale against the Mustangs. That fact would seem anomalous, but given everything that has unfolded across the country, the Pirates are taking that reality in stride.

It certainly helps that East Carolina snapped a four-game losing skid with its 28-3 road win over Temple last weekend. With Senior Day at hand, the Pirates are aiming to carry the momentum of their previous contest through this weekend and to end the year on a high.

“That was my message to the team Sunday,” Pirates coach Mike Houston said. “There’s no doubt they feel the exact same way. You want to finish the season strong and put together a complete ball game. We did that a little bit against South Florida and Tulsa. There were some strong phases against Navy and Temple. As far as everything clicking in all three phases, we haven’t done that this year.

“That was a big thing I talked to them about Sunday. I promise you that they want to.”

–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.

Sportsbooks

Rated 5/5

Rated 5/5

Rated 5/5

Rated 5/5

Upcoming Games

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

Vanderbilt

Hawaii

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

Duquesne

Florida State

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

Florida A&M

North Carolina

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

Wyoming

Illinois

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

Nebraska -10.5 -107

Northwestern +10.5 -107

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

UCONN

Utah State (24)

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

Nevada

New Mexico State

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

Austin Peay

WKU

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

Charlotte

Florida Atlantic

@

Aug 27th, 3:33 PM

North Texas

UTEP

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

Northern Arizona

Arizona State

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

Central Michigan

Oklahoma State (7)

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

West Virginia +7.5 -107

Pittsburgh (13) -7.5 -107

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

VMI

Wake Forest (15)

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

New Mexico State

Minnesota

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

Penn State -3.5 -107

Purdue +3.5 -107

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

Cal Poly

Fresno State

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

St. Francis-PA

Akron

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

South Carolina State

UCF

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

Bryant

Florida International (FIU)

@

Sep 1st, 3:33 PM

Alabama A&M

UAB

@

Sep 1st, 7:00 PM

Ball State

Tennessee

@

Sep 1st, 8:00 PM

LA Tech

Missouri

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

TCU -9 -107

Colorado +9 -107

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Temple

Duke

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Virginia Tech

Old Dominion

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Illinois

Indiana

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Western Michigan

Michigan State (9)

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

Eastern Kentucky

Eastern Michigan

@

Sep 2nd, 3:33 PM

William & Mary

Charlotte

@

Sep 2nd, 8:00 PM

Tennessee Tech

Kansas

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Utah State (24) +31.5 -107

Alabama (2) -31.5 -107

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Cincinnati (4) +7.5 -107

Arkansas (21) -7.5 -107

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Mercer

Auburn

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Utah (12) +1 -107

Florida -1 -107

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Oregon (22) +16.5 -107

Georgia (1) -16.5 -107

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Miami-OH

Kentucky (18)

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Memphis +11.5 -107

Mississippi State -11.5 -107

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Troy

Ole Miss (11)

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Georgia State

South Carolina

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Sam Houston State

Texas A&M

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Elon

Vanderbilt

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Arizona

San Diego State (25)

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

UC Davis

California

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Boise State

Oregon State

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Colgate

Stanford

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Bowling Green +3 -110

UCLA -3 -110

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Rice

USC

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Kent State

Washington

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Idaho

Washington State

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Southeast Missouri State

Iowa State

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

South Dakota

Kansas State

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

UTEP

Oklahoma (10)

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Albany-NY

Baylor (5)

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Louisiana-Monroe

Texas

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Murray State

Texas Tech

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Rutgers

Boston College

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Bethune-Cookman

Miami-FL

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

NC State (20)

East Carolina

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

North Carolina

Appalachian State

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Louisville

Syracuse

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Richmond

Virginia

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

South Dakota State

Iowa (23)

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Buffalo

Maryland

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Colorado State

Michigan (3)

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

North Dakota

Nebraska

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Notre Dame (8) +13.5 -107

Ohio State (6) -13.5 -107

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Illinois State

Wisconsin

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Houston (17)

UTSA

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Central Connecticut State

UCONN

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Massachusetts

Tulane

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Army

Coastal Carolina

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Northern Iowa

Air Force

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Maine

New Mexico

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Tulsa

Wyoming

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

WKU

Hawaii

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Texas State

Nevada

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Portland State

San Jose State

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Idaho State

UNLV

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Delaware

Navy

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

SMU

North Texas

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

BYU (19)

USF

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Liberty

Southern Miss

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Middle Tennessee

James Madison

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Morgan State

Georgia Southern

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Grambling State

Arkansas State

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Florida Atlantic

Ohio

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Nicholls State

South Alabama

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Eastern Illinois

NIU

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

LIU

Toledo

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Southeastern Louisiana

Louisiana-Lafayette (16)

@

Sep 3rd, 3:33 PM

Norfolk State

Marshall

@