Ladies and gentlemen, we have on our hands a true, legitimate BCS-buster.
In the span of two weeks, East Carolina has knocked off two of the six BCS-conference champions of a year ago -- Virginia Tech and West Virginia -- and its latest conquest was downright flabbergasting. No last-minute punt block necessary this time. All the Pirates did Saturday was knock off the No. 8 team in the country, 24-3.
The Pirates are clearly on a whole other level from some of the more recent mid-major successes. This is not 2007 Hawaii rolling off 12 straight wins against the nation's weakest schedule. While 2006 Boise State ultimately legitimized itself against Oklahoma, the Broncos' only regular season triumph of note was a rout of Oregon State.
Not since the Urban Meyer/Alex Smith Utah team crushed three major-conference foes en route to its perfect 2004 season has a non-BCS team looked so indisputably impressive -- and the Pirates aren't even done. They've still got games remaining against ACC foes N.C. State (Sept. 20) and Virginia (Oct. 11).
Whereas teams like Utah, Boise State, Hawaii and BYU have been known for their prolific offenses, Skip Holtz's team is a whole different animal: A mid-major team with a major-league defense. Saturday, the Pirates held a Pat White-led offense to three points. Three points. The Mountaineers -- which last season averaged 456 yards a game -- finished with just 248. And unlike last year, there was no White injury to blame for the defeat.
While Virginia Tech and West Virginia may well turn out to be vastly overrated, they've both made multiple BCS appearances since 2004. No team has pulled off two more impressive victories to start the season than ECU.
The BCS rules say a team from one of the "other" conferences must finish in the top 12 to reach one of the five big bowls. The Pirates belong in the top 12 right now. They've already earned enough respect that even if they slip up once along the way to a Conference USA opponent, they may still -- and probably should -- finish high enough in the polls.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see what happens if multiple contenders emerge for that coveted "outsider" berth. BYU has been considered the favorite all through the preseason, but the Cougars barely survived Saturday against mediocre Washington. It may well turn out that Utah is the Mountain West's biggest threat. Meanwhile, Fresno State beat Rutgers last week and has a chance to pull its own ECU moment next week against No. 11 Wisconsin.
Clearly, the Pirates belong at the head of the pack as of today. Their biggest obstacle right now: Avoiding a potential "letdown" next week at Tulane.