Mountaineers to face N.C. State in program’s first Champs Sports Bowl
Published: Monday, December 6, 2010
Updated: Monday, December 6, 2010 00:12
It may not be the BCS Bowl West Virginia had in mind, but the Mountaineers will still be heading to the state of Florida to play their bowl game.
The Mountaineers were selected to play against North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 28 at 6:30 p.m., at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
The selection marks the 10th straight year WVU has played in a bowl game.
"I see no disappointment whatsoever," said WVU head coach Bill Stewart. "This is a great challenge. It's a real thrill to go against the Wolfpack. They have a tremendous program. It looks like it's going to be a good football game.
"We're going to be America's game on Dec. 28th. What more could you ask for than national coverage?"
Florida Citrus Bowl President Michel Champagne said Maryland was also on the bowl's radar to play West Virginia, but the group preferred not to set up a rematch between WVU and the Terrapins. West Virginia beat Maryland 31-17 on Sept. 18.
The decision to choose the Mountaineers over Notre Dame was also rather simple, Champagne said. The Champs Sports Bowl gets one opportunity to pick the Irish over a Big East school over the next four years, but decided against ND.
"We have a long, fluid relationship with Notre Dame," Champagne said. "But we felt a ranked West Virginia team deserved to be here in the best interest of college football. They earned the trip and deserved the invite."
West Virginia finished 22nd in the final BCS Standings and was one of three co-champions in the Big East Conference this season, joining Connecticut and Pittsburgh.
If UConn would have fallen to the South Florida Saturday, West Virginia would have earned a spot in a BCS Bowl game. Instead, the Huskies beat USF and will play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day in Glendale, Ariz.
Pittsburgh will be playing Kentucky on Jan. 8 in Birmingham, Ala.
This season will be the bowl's first time hosting teams from the ACC and Big East Conferences. The bowl previously hosted the Big 10 Conference and the ACC.
Wisconsin won last year's Champs Sports Bowl, beating Miami 20-14.
N.C. State will enter the game with an 8-4 record after falling in its final game of the season to Maryland, a team West Virginia beat. NCST finished the regular season with the ACC's top rated passing offense, having averaged 281.7 passing yards-per-game behind junior quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson finished as the league's most efficient passer and leader and total offense after throwing for 3,288 yards and 28 touchdowns. The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 394 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.
Wilson was recruited by current WVU safeties Steve Dunlap while Dunlap was on the Wolfpack's coaching staff.
"He's a whale of a player and a great competitor," Stewart said. "I know what he can do, and I know the record he has. His stats are phenomenal. They should get everyone's attention rather quickly."
Defensively, N.C. State is led by senior Nate Irving, who finished with 88 tackles and six sacks while finishing second in the ACC in tackles for loss. The defense ended second in the conference against the run, allowing 113 rush yards-per-game but was one of the league's worst defenses against the pass, allowing 227.5 passing yards-per-game.
The unit recorded 40 sacks on the season, but also surrendered the most first downs in the conference.
West Virginia is 5-4 all-time against the Wolfpack, although the teams haven't faced off since 1979. The series began in 1914.
The Mountaineers are 2-8 all-time in bowl games played in the state of Florida.
Tickets for the game for the general public go on sale today at 9 a.m.
Tickets for WVU's allotment are $65 each and can be purchased online at WVUGAME.com, or by calling the Mountaineer Ticket Office at 1-800-WVU GAME.