ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (December 8, 2013) - East Carolina, which has won nine games this season including a sweep of in-state rivals North Carolina and NC State, will be the Conference USA representative in the 2013 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg. The Pirates will face an Ohio team that will be making a fifth consecutive bowl appearance and sixth in the last eight years.
This is the sixth edition of the bowl game, held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Kickoff this year is slated for 2:00pm EST on Monday, December 23 and is the lone scheduled bowl game that day.
The Pirates are led by head coach Ruffin McNeill, who is in his fourth year at East Carolina. McNeill, a graduate of ECU, has 28 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level. McNeill has led his team to its third bowl appearance in his four years as coach.
East Carolina (9-3, 6-2 C-USA) will be making the 19th bowl appearance in school history and first in the state of Florida since 1965 when they appeared in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, defeating the University of Maine 31-0.
ECU touts an explosive offensive team that averages 40.4 points per game. Junior QB Shane Carden has accounted for 42 touchdowns - 32 passing, 10 rushing - and is among the top five nationally in four categories, including a No. 1 ranking in completion percentage. Junior WR Justin Hardy is sixth among all FBS pass catchers in receptions per game, and for the second consecutive season, has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards.
The Pirates also boast a strong ground game led by senior running back Vintavious Cooper who enters the Bowl needing five yards to record back-to-back 1,000 rushing yard seasons.
The Bobcats, from the Mid-American Athletic Conference (MAC), fill the slot contracted to the American Athletic Conference, which didn't have enough teams to fulfill its bowl commitments. Ohio will be the second MAC team to play in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. Ball State represented the MAC last season in St. Petersburg filling the spot that could not be filled by a BIG EAST school.
Ohio (7-5, 4-4), will be looking for its third win over a C-USA team this season. The Bobcats had back-to-back games with C-USA schools in early September defeating North Texas 27-21 and then Marshall 34-31.
Frank Solich is in his ninth season as the head coach at Ohio and has led the program to consecutive bowl wins after losing all of its first five bowl appearances.
The Bobcats' offense can be explosive, scoring 34 or more points six times this season. But it can also be inconsistent, as it proved by scoring a total of 16 points during a three-game stretch in November that resulted in losses at Buffalo (30-3), at Bowling Green (49-0) and at home to Kent State 44-13.
The offense is led by senior QB Tyler Tettleton who owns 27 school records. Tettleton's top target is senior WR Donte Foster who has pulled in a career-best 63 receptions and six touchdowns. The kicking game has been a consistent asset all season with place kicker Josiah Yazdani who finished the year by not missing a field goal, going a perfect 12-for-12. He is one of only four kickers in the country that have not missed a field goal all year. His perfect field goal percentage is the highest in school history.
Ohio and East Carolina have met only two times in the past, with the Pirates winning both contests. The last time the two met was in 1998 with ECU winning 21-14.
The Congrove Computer Rankings project ECU to win the game by 10.32 points.