Posted: 12:07 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
By Andy Hutchins
Florida will host one of the best passing games in college football in 2015.
In addition to announcing a four-year extension of its rivalry with Florida State, Florida announced the addition of a home game against East Carolina to its 2015 schedule on Thursday.
Florida will host the Pirates on September 12 in Week 2 of the 2015 college football season. Adding East Carolina to the Gators' 2015 schedule firms up three of the presumable four non-conference games Florida will play, with a home opener against New Mexico State and a home game against Florida State both also set.
Florida has not seen East Carolina since 1983 — when the Pirates went 8-3, finished No. 20 in the AP Poll, and lost only to Florida, Florida State, and Miami. The Gators defeated the Pirates in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, 24-17, on October 22, 1983, handing them their largest defeat on the year: Florida State escaped East Carolina in its home opener, 47-46, and Miami would beat the Pirates by a bizarre 12-7 score two weeks later.
Scheduling East Carolina for 2015 is an interesting gambit, given the Pirates' Air Raid offense, directed by Mike Leach protégé Lincoln Riley and imported from Lubbock by longtime Leach assistant Ruffin McNeill when he was hired to replace Skip Holtz in 2010. ECU finished 11th nationally in passing offense in 2013, and third in completion percentage. Florida's had fine secondaries under Will Muschamp, and would likely much rather see a pass-happy team than, say, an option team in non-conference play, but East Carolina's been one of the best passing attacks nationally under Riley.
East Carolina's also got recent history when it comes to non-conference upsets. The Pirates beat Virginia in 2006, North Carolina in 2007, and Virginia Tech and West Virginia in consecutive weeks in 2008, though all those victories came under Holtz, and topped both North Carolina and N.C. State on the road in 2013.