GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina's inaugural campaign in the American Athletic Conference will officially begin when it welcomes SMU to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Oct. 4, according to a release of 2014 schedules by the AAC Tuesday afternoon.
The Pirates' eight-game league slate follows previously-announced non-conference home contests against North Carolina Central (Aug. 30) and North Carolina (Sept. 20), along with road matchups at South Carolina (Sept. 6) and Virginia Tech (Sept. 13).
The American and its primary television partner, ESPN, also tabbed a pair of ECU home games among its early broadcast selections with Thursday night battles against Connecticut (Oct. 23/ESPNU) and defending champion and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl winner UCF (Dec. 4/ESPN).
"We are excited to get our complete 2014 schedule," fifth-year ECU Head Coach Ruffin McNeil said. "The American and ESPN provides a great opportunity for us to display our program, University, City of Greenville and the Pirate Nation to the rest of the country."
After opening AAC play at home against the Mustangs, East Carolina will travel to Tampa on Oct. 11 for a clash versus USF at Raymond James Stadium before enjoying the second of three bye weeks on its schedule. The Pirates return home for a first-ever meeting against UConn and follow a week later by visiting Philadelphia to renew an 11-game series with Temple that dates back to 1982.
ECU will play at Cincinnati, which turned in a 9-4 overall record and stood third in the AAC standings a year ago, on Nov. 15 after its final off week. The Pirates and Bearcats share a 17-game history dating back to 1986 and last met in 2004 as Conference USA members.
A pair of familiar opponents will follow as ECU hosts Tulane on Nov. 22 before short turnarounds for a trip to Tulsa on Friday, Nov. 28 and the Thursday night regular season finale against the Knights.
In all, the Pirates' schedule features contests against six bowl qualifiers from 2013 and two programs that completed the year ranked fourth (South Carolina) and 10th (UCF) in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll. In addition to the Knights, South Carolina (Capital One), Virginia Tech (Sun), North Carolina (Belk), Cincinnati (Belk) and Tulane (R+L Carriers New Orleans) all made post-season appearances last year.
In addition to the three bye weeks, which resulted because of an August start date and the absence of a conference championship game in 2014, the league schedule does not offer ECU back-to-back road games in successive weeks for only the second time since 1990.
East Carolina's debut in the American against SMU also highlights the school's game-day designation selections as the annual Homecoming event.
Season tickets are on sale now with packages starting as low as $150 each. The priority deadline to order is April 1. Purchases may be made via ECU's Online Ticket Center or by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at (252) 737-4500.
2014 ECU FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 30 - NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL (FW/PC)
Sept. 6 - at South Carolina
Sept. 13 - at Virginia Tech
Sept. 20 - NORTH CAROLINA (HOF)
Sept. 27 - bye
Oct. 4 - *SMU (HC)
Oct. 11 - *at USF
Oct. 18 - bye
Oct. 23 - *CONNECTICUT - ESPNU
Nov. 1 - *at Temple
Nov. 8 - bye
Nov. 15 - *at Cincinnati
Nov. 22 - *TULANE (MIL)
Nov. 28 - *at Tulsa
Dec. 4 - *UCF (EA/SD) - ESPN
Home games in ALL CAPS; *American Athletics Conference game; FW-Family Weekend, PC-Pirate Club Weekend, HOF-Hall of Fame/Letterwinners Weekend, HC-Homecoming, MIL-Military Appreciation Day, EA-ECU Employee Appreciation Day, SD-Senior Day
Dates and designations subject to change pending finalization of television scheduling