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Champs Sports Bowl: West Virginia vs. N.C. St. Preview & Pick

Champs Sports Bowl Betting – West Virginia vs North Carolina State Betting

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West Virginia vs N.C. State Preview & Pick

Date: Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Venue: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
Broadcast: ESPN
West Virginia Mountaineers vs N.C. State Wolfpack Betting Lines from Betus.com
Money Line: West Virginia -135, N.C. State +115
Spread: West Virginia -2.5
Over/Under: 48.5
Bet Now @ Betus.com!

(22) West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3)

Defense, defense, defense was the name of the game for West Virginia this season. The Mountaineers enter the Champs Sports Bowl fielding the No. 2 unit in the nation. Unlike a defense like, say, Miami that is very strong in some areas but weak in others, West Virginia’s unit is stout through and through. The Mountaineers are second in total defense, second in run defense, second in points allowed per game (12.8) and 11th in pass defense.

Expect West Virginia to go after N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson early and often; the Mountaineers are third in the country with 40 sacks this year, 20 of which come from Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller alone.

Offensively, West Virginia has some names that get a lot of press, but the Mountaineers didn’t dominate as much as some people think. Noel Devine is famous for the YouTube videos of his dominant high-school performances but he only rushed for 811 yards this year, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. Geno Smith threw 23 touchdown passes but averaged only 213.9 yards per game. West Virginia has the nation’s 65th-ranked offense. This is a defense-first team.

North Carolina State Wolfpack (8-4)

North Carolina State is the more balanced squad of the two in the Champs Sports Bowl, ranking 39th in offense and 31st in defense. However, if you break things down closer, the Wolfpack are strong in some areas and weaker in others

N.C. State passes the ball very well, ranking 18th in the country with 281.8 yards per game. This is Russell Wilson’s team. He threw for 26 touchdowns and ran for nine more this year. The Wolfpack will also pose a major threat to Devine thanks to their outstanding run defense, which is 12th in the country. But their running game and pass defense are nothing special.

The pick:

The typical logic is that the bigger, more reputable West Virginia will school upstart N.C. State in this one. But I’m not so sure that will happen. First off, West Virginia’s bowl game record from a betting perspective is spotty of late. The Mountaineers are 2-6 against the spread over their last eight bowl games and 0-4 ATS over their last four bowl games when favored.

Secondly, is N.C. State just a bad matchup for West Virginia? The Wolfpack overcame some tough defenses this year, beating Boston College, Florida State and North Carolina. Sure, West Virginia is the best “D” they’ve faced yet and should keep Wilson in check. But N.C. State’s defense is no slouch and West Virginia’s offense wasn’t too impressive this year. Smith was solid but I’m not convinced he’s the type of quarterback to take a team on his shoulders and march it downfield when the running game is neutralized – which I think it will be.

I like N.C. State to grind out the upset in what should be a close, hard-hitting game.

West Virginia vs N.C. State prediction: N.C. State 20, West Virginia 17

Money Line: N.C. State +115
Spread: N.C. State +2.5
Over/Under: UNDER 48.5

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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.