ECU ranked for first time since 2008

First Posted: 9/22/2014

No. 23 East Carolina and No. 14 Mississippi State moved into the rankings for the first time this season with historic victories for their programs.

The Pirates are No. 23 after a record-setting 70-41 victory against in-state rival North Carolina. ECU has beaten ACC teams the past two weeks, winning 28-21 at Virginia Tech. It’s the second straight season ECU has beaten North Carolina.

The Pirates were last ranked Sept. 21, 2008. That team, coached by Skip Holtz, finished 9-5 and won Conference USA. This East Carolina (3-1) team, coach by ECU alum Ruffin McNeill, is in its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

Led by three-year starting quarterback Shane Carden, an overlooked Texan who spent two years on the scout team, and 31-year-old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, the Pirates offense has been virtually unstoppable this season.

“The fact that our offense is this successful is based on 11-man football,” McNeill said Sunday. “We ask everybody to their jobs and make routine plays. Making sure they do a good job of making routine plays, and then you can make competitive plays.”

Mississippi State is No. 14 after holding on to beat LSU 34-29 and end a 14-game skid to the Tigers. The Bulldogs were last ranked late in the 2012 season.