The East Carolina Pirates are for real.
After a 24-3 beatdown of No. 8 West Virginia, what other conclusion could you come to?
The Purple Pirates became the first Conference USA team in history to beat thtee consecutive ranked teams, then-No. 22 Boise State in last season's Hawaii Bowl and then-No. 17 Virginia Tech to open the 2008 season.
"It feels like we won a championship today," defensive end C.J. Wilson said.
No championship today, but they make it three in a row and solidified themselves as a solid BCS buster and should earn a spot in the top 25 for the first time since 1999.
ECU quarterback Pat Pinkney outplayed and outshined his Heisman candidate counterpart, Pat White. Pinkney completed 22-of-28 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown.
Pat White was limited to 72 yards on 11-of-18 passing and head coach Bill Stewart was dealt his first loss as the head Mountaineer.
"They beat us up", White said.
East Carolina showed they came to play when they opened the game with a long scoring drive that ate up six minutes. On their next possession, the Pirates had a 14-play, 56-yard drive capped by a 42-yard field goal that gave the Pirates a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Pirates had three scoring drives of 11 or more plays and six or more minutes and Jonathon Williams capped two of them with scoring runs of five and one yards. Williams led the East Carolina running backs with 69 yards on 17 carries.
The East Carolina defense held the vaunted West Virginia offense to 251 total yards while forcing the Mountaineers into two turnovers and holding the Mountaineers to 3-of-12 in third down conversions. The last time West Virginia didn't score a touchdown was in 2001.
The Pirates never trailed and outplayed the Mountaineers from start to finish. The result was an easy "upset" of a top 10 team, ECU's first since a victory over then No. 9 Miami in 1999.
Skip Holtz has done a remarkable job in his fourth year at East Carolina. The job of rebuilding a program that at one point went 3-21 was a daunting task, but Holtz and Pirates have been up to to the challenge.
"We've come a long way," Holtz said. "There was a time when we couldn't win three in a row."
Now, Coach Holtz and the Pirates can beat three-ranked teams in a row. Watch out BCS, the giant killers are here to stay.
Quotes courtesy of the Associated Press.