Tulsa welcomes East Carolina for delayed home debut

In their long-belated 2020 home opener, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will welcome American Athletic Conference counterpart East Carolina on Friday night.After losing its sole nonconference game to Oklahoma State on Sept. 19, Tulsa (2-1, 2-0 AAC) has posted back-to-back wins in league play. Most recently, the Golden Hurricane cruised to a 42-13 rout of South Florida on Oct. 23, their third road game to open the pandemic-shortened season.A scheduled home game against Cincinnati on Oct. 17 was postponed until Dec. 5 due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Bearcats.The Golden Hurricane own consecutive wins against East Carolina, in 2016 and 2019.A victory on Friday would match Tulsa’s longest-ever streak in the series. The current run ended a six-game East Carolina win streak that spanned both programs’ membership in Conference USA and entrance into the AAC, including the Pirates’ win over the Golden Hurricane in the 2008 C-USA championship game.Dating to its C-USA days, Tulsa has staked its identity to high-scoring offenses. Its initial success in 2020, however, is owed more to great defensive play.The Golden Hurricane are allowing 18.3 points per game, good for No. 15 in the nation. In their only loss, they held typically explosive Oklahoma State to just 16 points.Tulsa is the only defense to hold Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard below 100 yards this season.”Very impressive defensive performance there,” East Carolina coach Mike Houston said Monday of Tulsa’s showing at Oklahoma State. “We’ve got to do a great job with ball security.”The Pirates (1-3, 1-2) are coming off a 27-23 loss to visiting Navy on Oct. 17. They trailed by two touchdowns entering the fourth quarter but could not complete the comeback.Houston’s expressed emphasis on ball security comes just days after the Pirates fumbled four times against Navy, two of which were lost.East Carolina has committed nine turnovers through its first four games and ranks tied for 73rd in FBS teams with a minus-2 turnover margin on the campaign.