This week East Carolina comes to Williams-Brice Stadium. Last season, the two teams played in Charlotte as part of a five game series. East Carolina isn't a marquee opponent and many people questioned the scheduling. Let's discuss that topic:
Flounder: The ECU match-up is a good opponent as it presents a different look than what USC will normally see in the SEC and it allows USC to get some press in North Carolina papers as this is a key recruiting territory. The Pirates are no cupcake but it is a team USC should beat each time they face them. I like the foe and having them on the schedule as it is better than a Coastal or Troy.
LJ: I would rather see USC play a team in the ACC from NC. Bigger match up, better hype. If you beat ECU, nobody cares. If you lose, it is a big deal. Nothing to gain from playing the Pirates. The Gamecock's already play a smaller school from the State of South Carolina each year that will bring in a offense you usually don't see in the SEC, such as the option.
Billy: LJ and I pretty much see eye to eye on scheduling ECU. There are two types of opponents we should add to the schedule. Opponents who are so bad they don't pose any real threat of beating USC and opponents who are good enough that a win over them really means something. In the past South Carolina has scheduled home and homes with Virginia and North Carolina. Those are examples of good scheduling. Picking up Louisiana-Lafayette and UAB is good as well for the other reason.
East Carolina, to their credit, is good enough to beat South Carolina. The down side is if USC wins, no one will really care and it won't get USC into a better bowl or move them up in the polls. Like LJ said, this is all risk and little reward.
Unless you're going to go to a neutral site and play another top-25 team (like LSU did last year and Bama this year), all early season non-conference games are going to be all risk and no reward. Playing a lineup of cupcakes before starting the season does very little for the coaching staff to see what they really have. How do you have any idea how your team responds to pressure when they're a 70 point favorite?
I thought the East Carolina game showed us something last year about that team's resiliency and I imagine we'll learn something from this game as well.