What’s The Toughest Stretch of East Carolina’s 2023 Football Schedule?

What’s The Toughest Stretch of East Carolina’s 2023 Football Schedule?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

After a seven-year sojourn through the basement of the American Athletic Conference standings, the East Carolina Pirates returned to a bowl game in 2022, thanks in large part to their dynamic offense. With North Carolina sports betting now expanding to online and mobile, we took a look the Pirates 2023 schedule.

Overall, the Pirates went 8-5 in 2022, with a 4-4 AAC record, while starting quarterback Holton Ahlers finished second in the conference in passing yards (3,708) and third in touchdowns (28), with a TD-to-interception ratio of more than 5:1 during the year.  

Now, head coach Mike Houston is tasked with reloading his roster after losing Ahlers to graduation and two-time All-AAC running back Keaton Mitchell to the NFL. NC sports betting promos likely won't be available until next season, but those looking to wager on college football can still visit retail sportsbooks.

BetCarolina.com created a point system to determine the toughest 3-game stretch of the Pirates’ 2023 schedule for the upcoming college football season. We awarded 4 points to each opponent that won at least 7 games last season, 3 points to each opponent that won at least 6 games, 3 points for an away game, and 2 point for a conference opponent. 

Toughest Stretch For Pirates Will Come Late

Week 9 at UTSA9
Week 10 vs. Tulane6
Week 11 at FAU 5
Combined points20

New Conference Opponents Present Challenge

The late stretch of ECU’s schedule in 2023 should be a grind for the Pirates, with contests against UTSA, Tulane and Florida Atlantic. Those contests are a big reason why ECU's odds to win the AAC, which will be available on NC betting apps early next year, are around +3000 currently at most sportsbooks.

Those three teams combined to go 28-12 (.700) a season ago, with UTSA winning the Conference USA regular season and championship games after going 12-2, while Tulane stunned USC to capture the 2022 Cotton Bowl title.  

The third opponent, FAU, is coming off a disappointing 5-7 campaign, but enters the 2023 regular season under the tutelage of new head coach Tom Herman. Herman comes to Boca Raton off a disappointing Texas tenure that saw him go 32-18 before being fired after a 7-3 start to the 2020 season. While the record was far from pedestrian, Herman was unable to win over the Longhorns faithful (and boosters).

Herman was quite successful during his two-year stint with Houston, however, leading the Cougars to a 22-4 record between 2015 and 2016, giving Owls fans reason to have hope that 2023 could be the start of something special in the school’s first season competing in the AAC.  

Never Say Never

Those three AAC foes (UTSA joins this season as well) will put Mike Houston’s squad to the test, following a stretch where the Pirates play teams like Michigan, Appalachian State and Rice away from home and Marshall, Gardner-Webb, SMU and Charlotte at home.  

With the right combination of good luck and good execution, the Pirates could emerge from their three-week gauntlet against the Roadrunners, Green Wave and Owls in solid shape to compete for an AAC regular season title.  

We’ll know a lot more about ECU’s potential come late October, when the Pirates head to the Alamodome to take on what should be a loaded UTSA squad on the road. 

While the preseason odds don't suggest this next season will be one for the record books, if Houston's team overachieves it will set the program up well for 2024, when bettors can favor the Pirates with a DraftKings North Carolina promo code.



Christopher Boan is a lead writer at BetCarolina.com specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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