East Carolina (7-4) feels it hasn't been given enough respect as a football independent. The biggest slap came a few weeks ago when the Pirates weren't invited to join a new conference that includes some of the teams in the Liberty Bowl alliance.
Today's game at Memphis, Tenn., against Illinois (6-5) gives East Carolina what it wants most--an opportunity.
"Now it's a challenge of playing a good team and a chance to gain some recognition," defensive end Aaron Black said. "A lot of people don't get a chance to see us."