Champs Sports Bowl Pick, Trends, and Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack

West Virginia Mountaineers
(9-3, 7-4-1 ATS)

North Carolina State Wolfpack
(8-4, 9-3 ATS)


The Champs Sports Bowl is the first of two annual bowl bashes that are played at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. This year, there is a great matchup for NCAA football betting fans to sink their teeth into, as the NC State Wolfpack take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.

WVU had a tremendous season defensively this year, holding teams to just 248.8 yards per game. Both that number and the average of 12.8 points per game allowed rank No. 2 in the land. The rush defense of 82.6 yards per game was also second best in the country. All three numbers were the best in the Big East this year. Offensively, things really didn’t go so well, and this is the unit that really kept the Mountaineers from winning the Big East yet again in 2010. Ranking No. 65 in the country both in scoring (26.7 PPG) and yardage (378.3 YPG) was a brutal disappointment for an offense that was really supposed to shine. RB Noel Devine was a major bummer this year for fans of the ‘Neers, as he rushed for 886 yards and six TDs. He only averaged 4.4 yards per carry, which was almost two yards per rush fewer than he averaged for his career prior to this point. Two newcomers really did shine this year, though. QB Geno Smith threw for 2,567 yards and had a tremendous TD/INT ratio of 23/6, while his top target, freshman WR Tavon Austin caught 53 passes for 757 yards. Austin led the team in TDs with nine.

The Wolfpack were a pleasant surprise this season, and they remainder contenders for the ACC title until the very last Saturday of the year. They were bounced by the Maryland Terrapins in College Park to ruin what would have been the team’s first ACC Atlantic Division title. Instead, it has to settle for a trip down to the Sunshine State, where it will take on a very, very tough foe. Averaging 407.7 yards per game was great for Head Coach Tom O’Brien and company. His signal caller, QB Russell Wilson threw for 3,288 yards and 26 TDs, and he was picked off 14 times. Wilson really didn’t get a lot of help from his backs, as RB Mustafa Greene and RB Dean Haynes, both freshmen, rushed for just 904 yards and seven TDs between them. Wilson had nine rushing scores himself. The big problem that NC State had was playing well away from home. The team only really put up one great performance all season long outside of Raleigh, that being a 45-28 win at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets back on September 25th, and this could be a real problem for the team in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Defense is going to be the name of the game in this one. What we know about these two quarterbacks is that one has been prone to turning the ball over, while the other really has done a nice job of keeping the pigskin in his team’s possession. Give us Smith and the Mountaineers to tackle the Wolfpack for an easy ‘W’ in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Champs Sports Bowl Free Pick: West Virginia Mountaineers -2.5

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