How Would ECU Football Do in the Big Ten?


In a recent press event, South Carolina Gamecocks football coach Steve Spurrier took a jab at Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and the Big Ten’s preference that Power Conference schools schedule other Power Conference schools. Spurrier noted that he would rather play East Carolina than picking up one of the bottom tier Big Ten teams. He added that ECU football was tougher than those schools and the fans would care more to see it.

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Spurrier’s timing for this comment was unusually good. East Carolina should have one of their better teams this year, while the Big Ten is coming off a weak year for the conference. The Big Ten was so weak last year that there were questions whether one loss Auburn should jump an undefeated Ohio State team in the final BCS rankings.

Let’s look at the question a different way. How would ECU do against a Big Ten schedule this year? For the Spurrier comparison, we will place ECU in the place of Indiana, a normal Big Ten bottom feeder, and let them play out Indiana’s conference schedule. Indiana is also a good choice because they are in the new Eastern division of the Big Ten. For kicks, we’ll throw in ECU’s non-conference schedule for a little realism. The new ECU schedule would look something like this.

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  • 9/6at South Carolina
    9/13Virginia Tech
    9/20North Carolina
    10/11at Iowa
    10/18Michigan State
    11/1at Michigan
    11/8Penn State
    11/15at Rutgers
    11/22at Ohio State

    So let’s see what we have here. I said ECU would go 3-1 in the non-conference in my season preview, so we will stick to that here. That loss is South Carolina.

    Now let’s look at the home games. Maryland, Penn State, and Purdue are all winnable. Purdue was horrid last year and Penn State is not off sanctions and susceptible to tempo of the ECU offense. Maryland was a mid-tier ACC team last year and not the equal of VT or UNC, both of whom I think ECU will beat.

    Michigan State is a lost cause. Their defense is just too good. ECU had trouble with the VT defense last year and Michigan State plays similarly with better personnel. So 3-1 in the home non-conference would not be all that bad.

    Jan 1, 2014; Tampa, Fl, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes cheerleaders wave flags after they scored a touchdown against the LSU Tigers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. LSU Tigers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 21-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The road schedule is yuck though. Going to Columbus AND Ann Arbor? Sorry, ECU fans, those are not wins for you. Iowa is tougher to call though. ECU would be coming off a bye week. Still, Iowa only lost to very good teams last year and beat everyone else (except Northern Illinois). I have to give the home field edge to the Hawkeyes. ECU would beat Rutgers on the road, so 1-3 in road games.

    All-in-all, ECU would be 4-4 on Indiana’s schedule next year. 4-4 would be in the middle of pack of the Big Ten, and therefore better than scheduling the bottom teams of the conference. It would drop ECU’s overall record to 7-5 on the year.

    So Spurrier is right this year at least. ECU would put up a good fight in the 2014 East Division of the Big Ten.

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