2010 Champ Sports Bowl Preview
The West Virginia Mountaineers and the North Carolina State Wolfpack will play on December 28th in Orlando, Florida. The Mountaineers went 5-2 in Big East play and finished the season with an overall record of 9-3. West Virginia enters the 2010 Champ Sports Bowl as the #22 team in the country. The Wolfpack had an overall record of 8-4 and went 5-3 in the ACC.
When West Virginia has the Ball
The Mountaineers offense was 65th in the nation in scoring at 26.7 points per game. Senior running back Noel Devine came into the season as a Heisman hopeful, but he has not put up the kind of numbers everyone expected. Devine’s yards per carry have dropped every year from 8.6 as a freshman, to 6.3 as a sophomore, 6.1 last year, and now 4.4 yards per carry as a senior. Devine is still an explosive back and he can catch passes out of the backfield. Quarterback Geno Smith put together a solid season for the Mountaineers with 2567 yards and 23 touchdowns. In their win against Rutgers to close the regular season, Smith completed 82% of his passes and threw for 352 yards.
NC State has an aggressive defense that allowed 22.5 points per game this season. The Wolfpack defense has been lead by second team All-American linebacker Nate Irving. The senior linebacker has been outstanding with 93 tackles and is fourth in the nation with 19.5 tackles for a loss. As a team, NC State is tied for third in the country with 40 sacks on the year.
When NC State has the Ball
The Wolfpack are a pass first offense that averaged 32.6 points per game this season. Russell Wilson is the key to the NC State passing attack. The junior quarterback passed for over 3000 yards for the second straight season and had 8 games with at least 300 yards passing. Wilson also leads the team in rushing touchdowns with 9. Wide receiver Owen Spencer is the primary target with 57 catches for 868 yards, but Wilson will spread the ball around. The Wolfpack had 7 players with at least 20 catches and 12 different players have caught a touchdown pass.
The best word to describe the Mountaineers defense is stingy. West Virginia has the second best scoring defense in the country giving up only 12.8 points per game on average. In 12 games this year the Mountaineers defense only gave up 13 touchdowns. West Virginia is tied for third in the nation with NC State with 40 sacks this year. Defensive end Bruce Irvin is a beast coming around the end and finished the season with 12 sacks, the fourth highest total in the country.
2010 Champ Sports Bowl Prediction
The battle between West Virginia and NC State should be a good one. The MVP of this game is going to be the Mountaineers defense. West Virginia has been shutting down opponents week after week, and with a month to prepare for NC State I expect that to continue. With a huge game from Russell Wilson NC State has a chance but I think the lack of a running game will really hurt the Wolfpack.
Prediction: West Virginia 20 – NC State 13