This game features two talented quarterbacks, both physically and mentally. Russell Wilson leads NC State and emotionally keeps them in every game with his intelligent play. Geno Smith is an athletic quarterback who, over the season, has become the play-maker for West Virginia.
West Virginia expects a Big East title and BCS game every year, so the Mountaineers aren't thrilled with the bowl game they ended up with. This will cost Bill Stewart his head coaching job in 2012.
I think making Stewart your "lame duck" coach for one season is a bit odd. It could end up in the team losing focus as they wait for the next administration to take hold. But what if the team rallies and wins the Big East next season? Does West Virginia let Bill Stewart go as a potential BCS bowl coach? Stewart should have WV focused on the game at hand.
The Mountaineers had been playing fantastic defense during their four-game win streak to close out the year. They average just under 13 points in average scoring defense. Noel Devine and Jock Sanders are a couple of seniors on offense with NFL futures. Pay attention to Tavon Austin, the sophomore receiver caught five touchdown passes in the final four games of the year.
West Virginia recruits well in the state of Florida. Look for this game, being played in Orlando, to be a homecoming atmosphere for many Mountaineer players.
NC State is a rapidly improving team, but it's safe to say they are where they are because of QB Russell Wilson. The guy threw for over 3000 yards and 26 touchdowns. He's also not afraid to take off with the football.
He leads the team in rushing touchdowns with nine. The Wolfpack didn't expect much from the ground game this season, but freshman Mustafa Greene gave NC State just enough balance to be a win against Maryland away from an ACC Championship game. Keep an eye on senior wideout Owen Spencer. The guy is a three-year starter and hopes to make his final game a special one.
Prediction: Tough game to pick. The Mountaineers are probably the more talented as a team, but this NC State team has been something special all season. I think Russell Wilson finds a way to win this game.
NC State: 32 West Virginia: 28