Champs Sports Bowl 2010: 10 Things You Need to Know About West Virginia
Bowl week is upon us, and the West Virginia Mountaineers will be taking on the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl.
West Virginia does not have a great history in bowl games, but it has won four out of its last five.
With the dynamic play of quarterback Geno Smith and the speed of running back Noel Devine, West Virgina could walk away with this one.
Here are 10 things you need to know about West Virginia.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had a nice season and has an exciting matchup against NC State in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl.
Smith had an impressive quarterback rating of 149.7, 22nd in the nation.
Smith has gone a good job protecting the football, throwing just six interceptions this season, and that will be key for West Virginia.
Running back Noel Devine had another great season at West Virginia despite the drop in numbers from 2009.
Despite having a better season last year, Devine is still a playmaker, and his big play ability will be big for West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Devine ran for 886 yards and six touchdowns along with 30 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown.
West Virginia wide receiver Jock Sanders has been one of the primary targets for quarterback Geno Smith.
Sanders caught 64 passes for 670 yards and four touchdowns.
At 5'7", Sanders has the ability to make plays—look for him to make a few in the Champs Sports Bowl.
The 5'9" running back has been Geno Smith's favorite target this season.
Austin only had 14 carries at running back, but he caught 53 passes for 757 yards and a team-leading eight touchdowns.
Austin could be one of the key factors in this bowl game, so look for Smith to get him the ball early and often.
Bruce Irvin and the Pass Rush
West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin had 12 sacks this season, fourth in the country.
The pass rush is always a key ingredient to victory, and it will be big for the Mountaineers in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Bruce Irvin is going to be relied upon heavily to get pressure on NC State's quarterback Russell Wilson.
The West Virginia defense gave up 12.8 points per game in the regular season, second overall in the country.
West Virginia has done a good job at keeping opposing defenses out of the end zone, and they will need to do so in the Champs Sports Bowl because Russell Wilson and the NC State offense will be a tough task.
Big Game Struggles?
West Virginia only played one game this season against a ranked team, and that was against LSU on September 25th.
WVU lost to LSU 20-14 in a big game for the Mountaineers.
Although it was only one game, questions may arise about whether West Virginia can handle the big stage.
Noel Devine Needs to Rush for 100 Yards
During the season, when Noel Devine had over 100 rushing yards, the Mountaineers were 3-1.
Devine rushed over 100 yards the first three games of the season to get off to a 3-0 start. WVU lost to Syracuse 19-14 despite Devine running over 100.
Getting the ball to Devine early and often to wear down the NC State defense will be important for WVU.
Field Goal Kicking
If the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl turns out to be a nail-biter, the kicking game could turn out to be very important in this game.
WVU's kicker Tyler Bitancurt hit 10 of 15 field goals during the season, just 66.7 percent.
Bitancurt is not 100 percent reliable, and this could be an issue for WVU if this game goes down to the wire.
West Virginia University is 13-16 all-time in bowl games.
WVU has also won four out of its last five bowl games.