The 2023 college football season kicks off for the East Carolina Pirates and second-ranked Michigan Wolverines Saturday, September 2 at "The Big House" in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Live coverage will be available exclusively on Peacock starting at Noon ET, with additional coverage of Big Ten action coming Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET when No. 7 Penn State hosts West Virginia. Keep reading for how to watch and key storylines for the game.
Saturday marks the first-ever matchup between these schools, with reigning Big Ten champion Michigan hosting East Carolina of the American Athletic Conference. While the Wolverines are heavily favored in this matchup, the Pirates are coming off consecutive winning seasons and their first bowl appearance in eight years after winning the Birmingham Bowl.
East Carolina Pirates
East Carolina enters "The Big House" with fifth-year head coach Mike Houston at the helm. The Pirates are looking for their first-ever win over a top-5 team and what would almost certainly be the biggest win in school history.
Jim Harbaugh's suspension has cast a shadow over the game for both teams, with Houston saying the situation is “kind of silly, to be honest. If you want to punish him, punish him and figure it out in the offseason.” Houston added, “[Harbaugh's] going to coach throughout the week. I don’t think it’s going to make a significant difference on game day one way or the other.”
East Carolina took then-13th-ranked North Carolina State down to the wire in last season's opener, missing a field goal in the final seconds. Fast forward a year, and the Pirates' biggest question mark is at quarterback, where sophomore Mason Garcia is set to start after Holton Ahlers made the move to the NFL. Ahlers set school records in completions (1,127), attempts (1,857), passing yards (13,936), and passing touchdowns (97).
Garcia has appeared in 12 games, including one start and recording 19 completions, 179 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and one interception. He's not too shabby on his legs either, adding 130 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
“Mason (Garcia) came in better than expected, and I expected a lot from him," East Carolina offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick said. "I was kind of like ‘wow, he’s had a good summer.’ He’s in a good place, he’s ready to go."
Big things are expected from Michigan this season after a combined 25-3 record the past two seasons, but the Wolverines will be without their head coach, Jim Harbaugh, the first three games of the season after the school issued a self-imposed ban on him, stemming from alleged NCAA infractions during the COVID-19 dead period.
In Harbaugh's stead, four assistants will have the chance to serve as head coach on game day for the first three weeks, with defensive coordinator Jesse Minter first up.
“I’m certain that all will be impressed with the four coaches’ ability to direct and manage the game," Harbaugh said. "It’s been well documented that we have a very talented coaching staff, and I believe that all 10 assistant coaches will be head coaches in the near future. They are all capable of leading a team at an elite level.”
Also absent from the sidelines this game is offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, who is reportedly serving a one-game suspension for the NCAA violations as well.
Both coaches are able to coach during the week; they just can't be on the sidelines for the games.
The Wolverines boast a roster with experienced talent, including quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, and defensive back Will Johnson.
How to watch the East Carolina Pirates vs. No. 2 Michigan Wolverines
When: Saturday, September 2
Where: Michigan Stadium aka "The Big House" in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Time: Live coverage begins at Noon ET
Exclusive live stream: Peacock
How can I watch Big Ten on Peacock?
The East Carolina Pirates vs. Michigan Wolverines game will stream exclusively on Peacock. Sign up here.
What devices support Peacock?
You can enjoy Peacock on a variety of devices.
View the full list of supported devices here.
NBC Sports’ Big Ten Football and primetime games announced to date:
Sat. Sept. 2
East Carolina at Michigan
Sat., Sept. 2
West Virginia at Penn State
Sat., Sept. 9
Delaware at Penn State
Sat., Sept. 9
Charlotte at Maryland
Sat., Sept. 16
Washington at Michigan State
Sat., Sept. 16
Syracuse at Purdue
Sat., Sept. 23
Ohio State at Notre Dame
Sat., Oct. 14
USC at Notre Dame
Sat., Nov. 11
Michigan State at Ohio State
Fri., Nov. 24
Penn State at Michigan State (Ford Field)
The remaining NBC Sports’ Big Ten Football games will be announced during the season.