Monday, November 25, 2013
Oh big brother, where art thou?
A trip from Greenville to Raleigh for an East Carolina-North Carolina State football game carries with it all sorts of traditions, from the roughly 90-mile journey itself to the fairground tailgate lots to the confines of Carter-Finley Stadium, historically unfriendly to the ECU football team.
One of the traditions of the day, especially for those making the drive east to west, is hearing a familiar AM radio refrain beaming from Wake County.
Like it always is on such days, Saturday morning’s pregame sports radio in the Triangle was abuzz about the state of all things with in-state college football — Duke’s big year, North Carolina’s attempted late-season resurgence and the Wolfpack’s dreadful three-win season to that point.
And then came the mention of the Wolfpack’s Saturday opponent, good old ECU.
It began predictably, describing the now 43-year-old series between the teams as more of a rivalry to the school in Conference USA than the one in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Before long, former Wolfpack players-turned-commentators were using the inevitable big brother-little brother comparison.
A similar sentiment was audible in the region on Sept. 28, prior to ECU’s 55-31 bludgeoning of UNC in Chapel Hill.
On Saturday in Raleigh, big brother got his eye blackened by little brother again.
East Carolina rolled its record to 9-2 with an easy 42-28 victory against a punchless big brother who got blown out for three quarters, then scored 21 points and amassed 201 yards in a meaningless fourth quarter against ECU’s reserves.
For the 10th time in 11 games, the Pirates floored it from the kickoff and scored on the opening drive of the game. The 3-8 Wolfpack also scored on its first drive to tie the game, but it was 35-7 ECU at the third quarter turn.
A late-season non-conference loss to ECU won’t make much of dent in Wolfpack athletics history — N.C. State still leads the all-time series 16-12 — but the big-picture insignificance of the game for both teams speaks volumes about who belongs where in the pecking order of North Carolina college football teams.
While losing to ECU is a great way to ruffle the feathers of Raleighans, for N.C. State and first-year head coach Dave Doeren, Saturday’s was just another loss in a string that’s now grown to seven straight.
Meanwhile, in the words of ECU running back Vintavious Cooper — who ran the Wolfpack ragged for 148 yards — the Pirates have much bigger fish to fry than defeating their perceived big brother.
Waiting at Marshall on Friday is a game for all the marbles in C-USA’s East Division, with the victor earning a spot in the league championship game.
A Pirate win over the Thundering Herd would mean a third league championship appearance by ECU in the last six years.
Incidentally, the Blue Devils — perhaps the least celebrated of the state’s major college football teams — clinched at least a share of the ACC’s Coastal Division title on Saturday with an in-state win over struggling Wake Forest.
Meanwhile, big brother is watching.
Contact Nathan Summers at email@example.com or 252-329-9595.
via The Daily Reflector.