This year’s Champs Sports Bowl (6:30pm ET) in Orlando, FL features the number 22-ranked Mountaineers of West Virginia (9-3) out of the Big East taking on the North Carolina St. Wolfpack (8-4) out of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Wolfpack lost at Maryland by a score of 38-31 in their regular season finale on November 27, while the Mountaineers are winners of four straight coming into this contest, including a 35-14 pasting of Rutgers in their season finale on December 4. Both teams narrowly missed out on earning a spot in their respective conference championship games on the last day of the season and will be looking to show that they were deserving of a BCS bowl bid.
NC State is primarily a passing team on offense with junior quarterback Russell Wilson leading an offense that averages 281.8 yards per game through the air, 18th best in the nation. The Wolfpack average 407.7 YPG overall on offense and 32.6 points per game, good for 32nd best in the nation. Wilson led the ACC with 3,288 yards passing and 26 touchdowns during the regular season, and also ran for 394 yards and nine touchdowns.
West Virginia ranks second among FBS schools in scoring defense with an average of 12.8 PPG allowed on the season, third in total defense with 251.3 YPG allowed and second in rushing defense with only 85.1 YPG allowed on the ground. The defense is the impetus behind their four-game winning streak, allowing only four touchdowns in the final four games. Quarterback Geno Smith was second in the Big East with 2,565 passing yards and 23 touchdowns this season, and they can run the football as well.
The Mountaineers are 7-1 ATS when facing a team with a winning record, but 4-12 ATS in their last 16 games against the ACC. The over is 7-2 in West Virginia’s last 9 games against the ACC and the over is 8-3 in their last 11 December games. NC State is 21-8-1 ATS in their last 30 games on grass and 5-2 ATS when facing a team with a winning record. The under is 5-1 in NC State’s last 6 games overall, and 5-2 in their last 7 games against the Big East. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since a 38-14 NC State win in 1979; West Virginia has won five of their nine head-to-head meetings.
West Virginia vs. North Carolina St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
West Virginia Mountaineers -2.5
@ NC State Wolfpack +2.5
Over 49 (-110)
Under 49 (-110)
West Virginia vs. North Carolina State Prediction Champs Sports Bowl:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) – The Mountaineers have a superior defense, and defense is what usually prevails in big games. NC State is too explosive for West Virginia to shut them down completely, but expect the Mountaineers, who average 26.7 PPG even though they feature a ground-oriented attack, to score enough points to keep pace against the Wolfpack’s average at best defense.
SPREAD PREDICTION (TOP PLAY) – West Virginia -2.5
Over/Under Prediction – Take the under here as West Virginia has not allowed more than 21 points to an opponent all season, and that was way back in week two. Expect NC State to score close to that number, but not over it and for the Mountaineers to score just enough to cover the spread. The final score will be very close to the total, and this is not a bet for the faint of heart, but the number should come in just under 49.
GAME TOTAL PREDICTION – Under 49