Champs Sports Bowl Free Picks: West Virginia vs. NC State 12/28/10

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The ACC and Big East will send representatives to the Champs Sports Bowl on Tuesday night in the Sunshine State, as the NC State Wolfpack will duke it out with the West Virginia Mountaineers. Which way will this one go? Check out our Champs Sports Bowl picks for December 28th!

Champs Sports Bowl Matchup: West Virginia Mountaineers vs. NC State Wolfpack
Date: Tuesday, December 28th, 6:30 ET
Location: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
Champs Sports Bowl Line: West Virginia -2.5
Over/Under 48.5

Mountaineers Notes: The Mountaineers were up and down all season long, and though they were probably the best team in the Big East this year in terms of talent, they lost some key games that cost them a chance to play in the BCS once again. West Virginia had one of the best defenses in the country, ranking No. 2 in total defense, rush defense, and scoring defense. This was the only team in the land that held every single opponent to 21 points or fewer on the campaign. On the other side of the ball, the offense has really struggled. NCAA football betting fans have really gotten accustomed to the play of those streaking offenses led by QB Pat White and his immediate successors, where points were scored in bunches. Instead, this year, West Virginia has really slowed things down, largely due to the fact that QB Geno Smith is more of a pocket passer than those in the past. Smith was really expected to struggle as a passer, but that really hasn't been the case this year. He threw for 2,567 yards and 23 TDs, and he only threw six picks in the entire 12 game run. He really got a great contribution this year from WR Tavon Austin. The frosh caught 53 passes for 757 yards and eight scores. The two men that really let this offense down this year were RB Noel Devine and WR Jock Sanders. Sanders has only caught 64 passes for 670 yards and four TDs, and he only had 75 yards and a score on the ground. He has really grown accustomed to taking the ball on the ground and in the air a ton of times per game, but he just hasn't had those explosive games like over the course of the last few seasons. Devine was supposed to contend for a Heisman Trophy this year and was seemingly a lock to rush for at least 1,500 yards and average over six yards per carry. However, running for 886 yards and six TDs seems like a waste for a man that really could be one of the most explosive in college football.

Wolfpack Notes: NC State really had a chance to go to the ACC Championship Game for the first time in team history, but it squandered the chance with two bad losses at the end of the campaign. This was a significantly different team from that of West Virginia, as this was an offense that really had to pick up the slack for a defense that was questionable at times. When push came to shove, this unit did only allow 334.4 yards per game, ranking No. 30 in major college football, and conceding 22.5 points per game was one of the better marks in the ACC. However, giving up a total of 63 points over the course of the last two games of the season really proved to be fatal for a team that didn't play well outside of Raleigh. QB Russell Wilson set a record as a freshman for the most consecutive passes without a pick, but he was terrible at times this year, throwing 14 INTs. Now a junior, Wilson threw for 3,288 yards and 26 scores on the campaign, and he also added nine scores on the ground. He was the real MVP of the team, handling the football over 600 times on the season, and there is no doubt that he will have at least 40 touches in the Champs Sports Bowl. His top target was WR Owen Spencer this year, who caught 57 passes for 868 yards and four scores. However, there was no receiver that had more TD receptions this year. RB Mustafa Greene needs to get something done on the ground to keep this offense well balanced. He rumbled for just 584 yards in his freshman campaign and scored just four times on the ground.

The Final Word: The Wolfpack just don't have enough horses on offense to keep up with a team that was really well balanced for most of the year, especially on defense. Don't be shocked if the Mountaineers frustrate the heck out of Wilson and force him into some turnovers, and if that's the case, NC State won't find a way to beat the NCAA football lines in this one.

Champs Sports Bowl Free Pick: West Virginia -2.5
Champs Sports Bowl Prediction: West Virginia 23 – NC State 19

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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