Belk Bowl 2011: Key Matchups for North Carolina State vs. Louisville

Brian LendinoCorrespondent IIDecember 5, 2011

Belk Bowl 2011: Key Matchups for North Carolina State vs. Louisville

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    The announcement has been made official. The Louisville Cardinals and the North Carolina State Wolfpack will square off in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 27th in the 2011 Belk Bowl.

    Formerly known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl, this is the first year the game will bear the sponsorship of Belk.

    Both teams will enter the game with a 7-5 record, so it should be a nice, tough ACC vs. Big East matchup.

    From players, coaches, units, location and everything else you need to know, here are five key matchups you should be aware of in the 2011 Belk Bowl.

The Fans

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    I mentioned earlier that the game is being played in Charlotte, North Carolina. Well, North Carolina State is located a mere two and a half hours away from Charlotte.

    I wonder whose fans are going to travel better?

    Don't get me wrong, Louisville isn't all too far away from Charlotte—still within driving distance—and their fans will travel in bunches, too.

    I just think that the atmosphere will be electric with Wolfpack fans, and that will play a huge role throughout the course of the game.

Quarterback Play

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    Both N.C. State's Mike Glennon and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater are first-year starting quarterbacks, but the two players sing very different songs.

    Bridgewater, a freshman, has put up very pedestrian statistics. But, he has found ways to win football games by using his feet.

    Mike Glennon is a senior who spent the majority of his collegiate career behind current Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson.

    We'll see which quarterback comes to play come the 27th in Charlotte.

Coach vs. Coach

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    Like the quarterbacks, the head coaches in this game tell very different stories.

    Charlie Strong is a young head coach who is in only his second year. He spent the previous nine years as a the defensive coordinator for the Florida Gators.

    Strong has done a nice job as Louisville's head coach in his two season, compiling a 14-11 record and making a bowl each season.

    This season, the Cardinals were Big East co-championships.

    On the other hand, Tom O'Brien has been the head coach of North Carolina State for the last five seasons, but has also held the head coaching job at Boston College.

    He's experienced in bowl games, boasting a 7-2 record, and will be looking to add to that with a win over Louisville in the Belk Bowl.

North Carolina State Offense vs. Louisville Defense

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    Like I slightly alluded to earlier, Louisville is headed by a defensive wizard in Charlie Strong and his tenacity has reflected in his team's play the last two seasons.

    North Carolina State averages about 28 points per game on the season, while Louisville is giving up a hair under 20 per game.

    By the numbers, this is a great matchup.

    Louisville is a very sure tackling team. North Carolina State may need some big plays to propel them to a victory in this game.

Teddy Bridgewater vs. North Carolina State Secondary

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    I mentioned that Teddy Bridgewater is a young freshman quarterback playing in his first bowl game, and also that his stats have been rather pedestrian. He's thrown 12 touchdown passes against nine interceptions.

    North Carolina State leads all of college football in interceptions on defense with 29, and has returned two of them for touchdowns. They will thoroughly test the young quarterback.

    As a whole unit, North Carolina State gives up just under 25 points per game.