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Belk Bowl: N.C. State (7-5) vs. Louisville (7-5)

N.C. State Football

The N.C. State Wolfpack, representing the Atlantic Coast Conference, will face the Louisville Cardinals , co-champions of the Big East Conference, in the 2011 Belk Bowl on Tuesday night. Louisville will be making its first appearance in the game, while N.C. State returns for the second time, and first since 2005. This game is a pick’em on WagerWeb.com.

The Wolfpack will have the benefit of playing in front of a partisan crowd, but Louisville goes into the game on a bit of a hot streak, having closed the season with a 5-1 mark. The Cardinals have simply found their identity. Louisville’s quarterback is Teddy Bridgewater, the Big East’s rookie of the year. Bridgewater went 5-4 as a starter and is the Cardinals’ first true freshman quarterback in 35 years. The defense has been solid and will be one of the best the Wolfpack have faced this season. Louisville ranks No. 10 nationally in rushing defense (103.5 ypg), No. 14 in scoring defense (19.2 ppg) and No. 23 in total defense (327.8 ypg). The only team N.C. State has faced with a better defense is FSU, and the Wolfpack lost that game 34-0.

Cardinals starting receiver Michaelee Harris will miss this game with a knee injury. Harris leads the team with 37 receptions for 455 yards, and also has two touchdowns this season. Also, defensive end Greg Scruggs did not make the bowl trip. Scruggs was arrested recently week on drunken driving charges.

N.C. State sophomore David Amerson leads the nation with 11 interceptions, a school record for picks in a single season. N.C. State was one of the ACC’s most inconsistent teams this season, beating rival UNC for a fifth straight season, then losing to an unheralded Boston College team, and rebounding to shock then-ranked No. 7 Clemson, 37-13. The Pack was in a must-win situation against Maryland to reach bowl eligibility, and it didn’t look good when they trailed 41-14 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. NC State put together the second-biggest comeback in school history, though, and beat the Terps 56-41 to get to the Belk Bowl.

The Cardinals and Wolfpack will be meeting for the fourth time in series history, with Louisville holding a 3-0 advantage. Louisville defeated the N.C. State, 27-10, in the last meeting, 2007, at Carter Finley Stadium. Louisville is making its 16th postseason trip and second straight under coach Charlie Strong, who is 13-11 in his first two seasons at the helm of the program. Louisville defeated Southern Miss, 31-28, in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl a year ago. All-time, the Cardinals are 7-7-1 in postseason play and have won their past two contests. State is making its 26th bowl appearance, and its 13-11-1 mark (.540) ranks 15th in winning percentage among all schools that have 15 or more bowl appearances.

SA Take: This is a tough pick to make but we have a slight lean toward N.C. State here based on the fact that they play a slightly tougher schedule and have the same record. Play the Wolfpack.

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Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 College Football Betting 2011

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