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Gamecocks, Pirates to invade stadium

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CHARLOTTE - Bank of America Stadium will play a prominent part in the kickoff of the college football season when regional rivals South Carolina and East Carolina clash, and fans still have a chance to experience the Southern showdown firsthand.

The Gamecocks are the preseason favorite to win the SEC Eastern Division, and the Pirates are expected to contend for the Conference USA East crown.

"We're excited about having such a spectacular matchup coming to the stadium for the opening weekend of the college football season," said Scott Paul, stadium operations manager at Bank of America Stadium. "We expect a great game day atmosphere for what should be an entertaining and intriguing game."

Both teams are coming off bowl appearances. The Gamecocks reached the SEC Championship Game for the first time in school history last season and finished the year ranked No. 22 with a 9-5 record. The Pirates went 6-7 in Ruffin McNeill's first season as head coach.

The teams will open their seasons by meeting for the 16th time but for the first time since 1999. South Carolina leads the series 10-5.

While the Gamecocks will play in Bank of America Stadium for the first time, ECU is making its fifth appearance. The Pirates have won three of their previous four games at the stadium.

"Any time we have the opportunity to compete in a first-class NFL facility against a program like South Carolina, it presents a tremendous opportunity for everyone associated with East Carolina and the Pirate Nation," McNeill said. "No doubt, the challenge is great, but it's one we've always embraced and are ready for."

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