Belk Bowl Picks & Predictions – Louisville vs. NC State 12/27/11

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Charlotte, NC gets a game on the 2011 bowl schedule this year, replacing the International Bowl, as it gets to host the first annual Belk Bowl. This year, the bowl game has a great matchup for you to make your college football bowl picks on, as the NC State Wolfpack will essentially host the Louisville Cardinals.

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Belk Bowl Matchup: Louisville Cardinals vs. NC State Wolfpack
Belk Bowl Date/Time: Tuesday, December 27th, 8:00 ET
Belk Bowl Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Belk Bowl Odds: NC State -2.5
Belk Bowl Total: 44.5
Belk Bowl TV Coverage: ESPN, ESPN3.com

The Belk Bowl betting odds came out as a pick ’em in this game, and they gravitated towards NC State very quickly, and we tend to think that that early action is going to be spot on. However, it definitely isn’t going to be without a fight. The Cardinals are an odd team that played a heck of a lot better this year on the road than at home. They went 6-0 ATS and won some big time games on enemy soil, and you can bet that Head Coach Charlie Strong is going to try to convince his team that it is the road team in this game.

The Cardinals did what they had to do down the stretch, coming up with three straight road wins to pick up a share of the Big East crown. In those games against the South Florida Bulls, Connecticut Huskies, and West Virginia Mountaineers, the team came forth with its three best offensive efforts on the season. That being said, this is still a team that struggles mightily to get past three TDs in a game, though we clearly see some improvement under the direction of freshman QB Teddy Bridgewater. The frosh completed 66.0 percent of his passes this year for 1,855 yards, and he had 12 TDs but nine picks.

You probably wouldn’t think that QB Mike Glennon, the brother of former Virginia Tech Hokies QB Sean Glennon would be all that great. And, if you watched him over the course of the first 10 games of the season, you’d probably agree with that assessment. However, all of a sudden in the second half against the Maryland Terrapins, something clicked. Glennon went on to throw eight TD passes in roughly the next six quarters of action, and the Wolfpack went from a team that wasn’t going to make it to a bowl game at all to one that ended up getting practically its ideal destination here in a de facto home game right up the road from Raleigh in Charlotte.

Keep an eye out for WR TJ Graham as well. He is really going to be the difference maker in this game. These two teams really play similar football, and both have the potential to really bog down offensively. However, when Louisville bogs down, it usually gets beaten… just look at games against the Marshall Thundering Herd and Florida International Golden Panthers for proof of that. When NC State gets bogged down, it just has to get the ball into the hands of Graham, who averages over 16 yards per catch and is one of the deadliest punt and kick returners in the history of the ACC. Don’t be surprised if he breaks one in some respect, whether it be on a reverse, as a receiver, as a punt returner, or as a kick returner, and that will prove to be the difference in what should be a rather tight game from start to finish.

Free Belk Bowl Pick: NC State -2.5

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Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Cappersinfo.com Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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