One of the nation's top offenses will square off against one of the nation's top defenses Dec. 28 in Orlando, Fla., when North Carolina State faces West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl.
NC State, 8-4, features the 19th-ranked passing offense, which is led by junior quarterback Russell Wilson. The Richmond, Va., native, who was a fourth-round draft pick this past summer by the Colorado Rockies, threw for 3,288 yards and 26 touchdowns this past season. Ten Wolfpack players had at least 10 receptions, and 12 different players had a touchdown catch. Wilson was also second on the team with 394 yards rushing, scoring nine times.
"That should get everyone's attention rather quickly," WVU coach Bill Stewart said during Sunday's announcement.
LOOKING?FOR?ROOM — West Virginia running back Shawne Alston looks for running room against Rutgers Saturday at Mountaineer Field. Alston and the Mountaineers won the game 35-14 and will face North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl. (CU and The Inter-Mountain/Andrew Davis)
The Mountaineers, 9-3, go into the bowl contest with a four-game winning streak. The win over Rutgers Saturday helped them clinch a share of the Big East Conference championship, but Connecticut was awarded the BCS bid on the strength of its overtime win over West Virginia.
"I see no disappointment on our team," Stewart said. "The players are excited, and we are very proud of our 9-3 record. To play like we did this past month is a real character tribute to this team."
The Mountaineers rank in the top 10 nationally in most defensive categories, holding opponents to 12.8 points per game. No opponent scored over 20 points on West Virginia this season. The pass rush is led by defensive ends Julian Miller and Bruce Irvin, who sacked opposing quarterbacks eight and 12 times respectively.
The Champs Sports Bowl will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 28 in the Citrus Bowl Stadium, and the game will be televised by ESPN.
"Both NC State and West Virginia have enjoyed very successful seasons, and we are already seeing a lot of excitement for this game in Orlando," said Selection Committee chairman Chuck Beverly. "It's going to be fun watching one of the best nation's best offenses face one of the best defenses."
The Mountaineers and the Wolfpack have met nine times on the football field, and this will be their first encounter since 1979 when current WVU athletic director Oliver Luck was the quarterback of the WVU team. NC State won 29-15 in Raleigh, N.C. The two teams have met twice in bowl games, the 1972 and 1975 Peach Bowls. WVU won the 1975 game, 13-10.
WVU fans wishing to purchase tickets to the game can do so at 9 a.m. today at the Mountaineer Ticket Office. Available tickets are $65 and may be purchased online at WVUGAME.com or by calling 1-800-WVU-GAME.
All 2010 Mountaineer Athletic Club donors and football season ticket holders may place their priority bowl ticket requests online by following the instructions they found in a mailing they received in November.