The key Champs Sports Bowl matchup: the West Virginia Mountaineers passing defense against N.C. State Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson. Can the dynamic Wolfpack passer succeed against one of the nation’s best defenses? Backing The Pack crunches the numbers on WVU’s defense, and comes away impressed:
Their defense is at least on par with Clemson’s, and probably a bit better. Both of Football Outsiders’ metrics rate the Mountaineers slightly ahead. In raw terms, it’s not all that close. So this very well could be the biggest challenge NC State’s offense has faced all season.
The Smoking Musket does some math of its own, and finds several Wolfpack weaknesses to exploit, from the running game to special teams. However:
Games aren’t played on paper by stat geeks like me. Turnovers always make an impact, and I think we might be right to worry about the mental state of the team with all that has transpired in the last couple of weeks. We also fit the classic mold of a “team-that-thinks-it-should-be-playing-in-a-bigger-bowl-and-forgets-to-show-up-for-the-one-it-is-in.”
SB Nation Pittsburgh is concerned about West Virginia’s traditionally strong traveling presence and the distractions of playing a bowl in the middle of a coaching change, but foresees a Mountaineer win thanks to the defense taking its “last stand.”
The 2010 Champs Sports Bowl kicks off at 6:30 p.m. EST, Tuesday, December 28. The game will be televised on ESPN. For a complete list of bowls, browse our 2010 college football postseason schedule.