East Carolina–UCF football rivalry
|East Carolina–UCF football rivalry|
|Series record||East Carolina leads, 9–3–0|
|First meeting||September 21, 1991
East Carolina 47, UCF 25
|Last meeting||October 4, 2012
UCF 40, East Carolina 20
|Largest win||East Carolina, 47–25 (1991)|
|Longest win streak||East Carolina, 4 (1991–1996, 2006–2009)|
|Current win streak||UCF, 1 (2012–present)|
The East Carolina–UCF football rivalry is an American college football rivalry game played by the East Carolina Pirates football team of East Carolina University and the UCF Knights football team of the University of Central Florida. The teams first met in 1991, but for the majority of the rivalry both teams were members of Conference USA between 2005 and 2012.
East Carolina holds the advantage in the overall win-loss record in the rivalry series, 9–3. The series has been marked by periods of alternating winning streaks. East Carolina won four of the first five games, but UCF has won two of the last three. Four of the games in the series have been decided by seven points or fewer, while three were decided by more than twenty points.
From its one-sided domination by East Carolina in its first few years, the East Carolina–UCF football rivalry evolved into one of the most evenly matched and hardest fought in Conference USA. The games often affected the standings in the conference's eastern divisions, and evenly more frequently affected whether a team qualified for a bowl game. The Pirates have been considered one of UCF's main rival's due to the number of meetings and the comparable size of the programs. ECU joined Division I-A (FBS) in 1978, while UCF did so in 1996. The Pirates joined C-USA in 1997, and the Knights followed from the MAC in 2005.
The similarities and histories between the two programs fuel the fire in this rivalry. The first game in the series was played on September 21, 1991 between coach Bill Lewis's Pirates and coach Gene McDowell's Knights in Orlando, Florida. The Pirates won the first four games of the series, in 1991, 1993–94 and 1996. Beginning in 2005, both teams started playing annually as members of C-USA. In 2005 the Knights gained their first football victory over East Carolina, a 30–20 victory in Greenville, North Carolina. After the win, the Knights would lose the next four contests. Since 2010, the Knights have won two of the past three match-ups, losing to the Pirates in Greenville in 2011.
In several of the recent years, the match between UCF and East Carolina has determined the winner of the Eastern Division. In 2007, UCF's only conference loss came at the hands of the Pirates. In 2008, the Pirates returned the favor and won in overtime to secure the C-USA East title. A UCF loss at East Carolina also determined them as the Eastern Division champions in 2009, while a UCF win at home was the difference in 2010. In 2012, a UCF win over East Carolina was the deciding factor once again in deciding the East division.
The 2012 season marked UCF's last as a member of Conference USA, as it joined the American Athletic Conference for all sports in 2013. The Pirates will follow the Knights to The American in 2014 as an all-sports member, likely reigniting the rivalry. The series conclusion as C-USA members ended in 2012, with a 40–20 victory by the Knights. However, the Pirates retain a 9–3 advantage in the series.
East Carolina victory
Most rivalries are marked by frequent close games, unexpected upsets, and memorable moments; the evenly-matched East Carolina–UCF rivalry has provided many. Four of the games in the series have been decided by seven points or fewer, while three were decided by more than twenty points. In terms of all-time winning percentage, only a few points separate the Pirates (.520) and the Knights (.523). A few of the most notable games of the rivalry are described below.
After going into the half leading 28–17, UCF took a surprising downturn in the second half. In the third quarter alone, the Knights turned the ball over five times, including two interceptions by Kyle Israel, one interception from Michael Greco, and two lost fumbles between Israel and running back Kevin Smith. The Pirates converted three of the turnovers into scores, and with a kick return outscored UCF 28–3 in the third to earn a 52–38 win. The 52 points were the most for East Carolina since a 2002 victory over Houston.
The loss was the only conference contest dropped all season, with the Knights going on to their first conference championship in program history with a 44–25 victory over Tulsa in the championship game. Smith, with 147–yards in the game, would become UCF's first consensus All-American, and finished in eighth place with 55 total points and three first-place votes for the Heisman Trophy.
Both teams entered the 2008 game on different tracks. The Knights were the defending conference champions, but held a 2–6 record compared to the Pirates 5–3 record. After getting within one-score, East Carolina tailback Norman Whitley tied the game at 10 with a rushing touchdown with 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. On the first play of overtime, Pirates freshman cornerback Emanuel Davis intercepted UCF quarterback Michael Greco. East Carolina would win the game on a 39–yard field goal. The Pirates would win their first C-USA Championship in 2008, and they would repeat in 2009. The Pirates would finish the season 9–5, while the Knights finished 4–8.
- 2010–13 Big East Conference realignment
- American Athletic Conference
- Conference USA
- East Carolina–NC State rivalry
- East Carolina Pirates
- Mid-American Conference
- Marshall–UCF football rivalry
- UCF–USF football rivalry
- UCF Knights
- College Football Data Warehouse, East Carolina vs. UCF. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
- "It's Official! UCF Joins BIG EAST Conference". University of Central Florida. 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- At the time UCF and East Carolina announced their respective conference moves, their destination conference was known as the Big East Conference. Following a 2013 split of the conference along football lines, the two schools' new league now operates as the American Athletic Conference.
- "Big East to add Tulane, East Carolina". USA Today. 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- East Carolina was originally invited to join the then-Big East for football only. Shortly after the conference split was formalized, ECU's membership was upgraded to all-sports. Associated Press (March 27, 2013). "All 19 East Carolina sports on move". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "Tulane, ECU to Join Big East in '14, Leaving C-USA". ABC News. 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "Division I-A All-Time Winning Percentage". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "East Carolina 52, UCF 38". ESPN. 20087-10-06. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "George O'Leary Makes His Mark at UCF: Part 8 of 8 - The History of UCF Football". University of Central Florida Athletics Association. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "UCF's Smith Secures Consensus All-America Honor". University of Central Florida Athletics Association. 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "Expanded Heisman Trophy voting results". MSNBC. 2007-12. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "Hartman nails 39-yarder as E. Carolina beats UCF in OT". ESPN. 2008-11-02. Retrieved 2012-12-11.