For the first time in a half-decade, someone besides Holton Ahlers will suit up behind center for the Pirates. How does that affect our ECU season predictions ahead of the 2023 season?
ECU Season Predictions: Predicting the Game-By-Game Results
Using groupthink, College Football Network analysts have painstakingly gone through every game for every team in the American Athletic Conference and across the country.
Picking these games straight up with a projected score using the rosters as up-to-date as the last spring practice, how do the ECU predictions look for 2023?
Week 1 – ECU @ Michigan: Loss, 9-47
Season-opening games don’t get much more difficult than this one as the Pirates travel to Ann Arbor for a date with defending Big Ten Champ Michigan. The Wolverines have a complete roster and rebuilt their only positions lost through the draft via the transfer portal.
ECU would be well advised to play their full onslaught of players and see who can get the most out of their respective positions as they hope to iron out the kinks in this Week 1 matchup.
Week 2 – ECU vs. Marshall: Loss, 22-25
A tough one to nail down but the Marshall defense has been a producer of talent over the past 10 years. They have the pieces on defense, and the offense showed glimpses of what could be a season ago with some surprise performance for the Thundering Herd.
ECU can win this game if they’ve figured out what their quarterback situation looks like but the loss of Keaton Mitchell may rear its ugly head here.
Week 3 – ECU @ Appalachian State: Loss, 19-24
Similar to ECU, the App State offense is attempting to figure out their quarterback situation through the summer and into fall camp. App State has a more complete defense than the Pirates and should be able to limit whatever ECU wants to do offensively.
ECU’s best chance at what would be an upset here would be to do what they do best on defense and play multiple fronts to confuse the Mountaineers on offense.
Week 4 – ECU vs. Gardner-Webb: Win, 40-9
Finally, a non-conference game that should be an easy one. If there are kinks still to be worked out, the Pirates have this matchup against Gardner-Webb to do so.
They prepare for an onslaught of an American schedule with an easy win to rest their starters and get healthy here.
Week 5 – ECU @ Rice: Win, 21-19
JT Daniels transferring to Rice immediately gave the Owls a chance in most of their games. However, as stated, the Pirates’ defense throws multiple fronts and even more schemes at quarterbacks perhaps better than most teams in the conference.
It’s a rough conference opener for Daniels and the Owls who should falter against this defense.
Week 7 – ECU vs. SMU: Loss, 21-31
The speed that SMU possesses is still somehow underrated. On Thursday night here, it should be on national display, however. As talented as ECU’s defense should be, they can’t contend with the fact that SMU should be able to go sideline-to-sideline better than anyone else in the conference.
Week 8 – ECU vs. Charlotte: Win, 23-19
The hapless 49ers host ECU in a battle for North Carolina supremacy. The Pirates and 49ers will be hurting for conference victories, but the pieces are in place for ECU to limit what Charlotte wants to do offensively.
Can Charlotte figure out their quarterback situation and their starting 22 by now or will they still be trying to find answers in a year of massive turnaround under Biff Poggi? Either way, ECU has the advantage of stability in this one.
Week 9 – ECU @ UTSA: Loss: 21-37
The favorites in all but one game on their schedule this season, UTSA hosts ECU to kick off a rough two-game stretch for the Pirates. UTSA was the cream of the crop in the Conference USA last year and should be considered so in the AAC this season as well.
Frank Harris is as tough a quarterback to stop defensively as there is this season and ECU just shouldn’t have the pieces to do so. Combine that with the fact that the Roadrunners’ defense is criminally underrated, and you’ve got a rough one for the Pirates.
Week 10 – ECU vs. Tulane: Loss, 18-32
Their incredibly-difficult two-game stretch continues back home with Tulane coming to town. The defending AAC Champions head to Greenville after trouncing ECU after a dominant performance by QB Michael Pratt in 2022.
ECU’s defense will be tested and Tulane is just too much to handle on both sides of the ball.
Week 11 – ECU @ FAU: Loss, 23-26
The Pirates are capable of pulling this game off in South Florida. However, with Casey Thompson in the picture for the Owls, FAU looks to be the favorite here. Thompson has had an up-and-down career to date but was able to make plenty of plays happen for Nebraska last season.
A former Power Five starter with ample arm talent and enough speed around him should be able to withstand ECU in Week 11.
Week 12 – ECU @ Navy: Win, 26-19
ECU’s defense will have to play one of their top performances against Navy, even with questions on that side of the ball for the Midshipmen. Navy’s triple-option attack gives even the most seasoned defenses fits, as it did last year, but the Pirates tackle the Midshipmen in a revenge game from last season.
MORE: AAC WR Rankings, 2023
Week 13 – ECU vs. Tulsa: Loss, 19-23
A tough one to predict at this stage but one we surely didn’t want to forget about. After doing the Golden Hurricane last year with Davis Brin at quarterback, ECU gets the potential dynamic Braylon Braxton at quarterback for Tulsa in their season finale.
Braxton’s dual-threat ability is documented and should be enough to give Tulsa the edge to close out the season.