2011 Belk Bowl Preview
The opponents in the 2011 Belk Bowl this year did not have far to go. The game is being played in Charlotte, N.C. and will feature an in-state team in NC State, representing the ACC, taking on Big East co-champ Louisville, from neighboring Kentucky.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams dating back to 1994, when the Cardinals posted a 35-14 victory at home.
Our Belk Bowl odds show North Carolina State as a 2.5-point chalk, while the total has been placed at 44.5 points.
The Cardinals won their final three contests and five of their last six to end up as a three-way Big East co-champion (5-2) with Cincinnati and West Virginia. Most recently, Louisville notched consecutive road wins at UConn (34-20) and South Florida (34-24) to post a 4-2 record away from home, including a current three-matchup win streak in such contests.
Louisville ranks a stellar 14th in the nation in points given up (19 points per matchup), allowing 328 yards per game (224 via the pass, 104 rushing) while generating 32 sacks and forcing 18 turnovers with three taken back for scores (Andrew Johnson and M Mitchell, fumbles; Mike Evans, interception).
The defense is paced by three guys Dexter Heyman with 83 stops (four sacks, team-best three picks, forced fumble), Hakeem Smith with 81 tackles (team-best three forced fumbles, one interception, one fumble recovery) and Preston Brown with 81 (1.5 sacks). William Savoy and Marcus Smith both have five sacks, chipping in a combined 34 tackles, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and blocked kick.
On offense, Louisville lists just 100th in the country in points surrendered (22 ppg) while racking up 328 yards per matchup (206 through the air, 122 rushing). Teddy Bridgewater hits on 66 % of his throws for 1,855 yards and 12 touchdowns with nine picks. The offensive line has allowed 36 sacks.
Michaelee Harris and Eli Rogers lead the receiving threats with 71 combined receptions for 855 yards and three touchdowns, while Dominique Brown and Victor Anderson pace the rushing game with 960 combined yards and seven touchdowns on 4.1 yards per carry.
North Carolina State
NC State recovered from a slow start, winning three of its final four contests and five of seven to end up fourth in the ACC Atlantic Division (4-4). Most recently, NC State beat top-10 Clemson (37-13) and Maryland (56-41). The Wolfpack were 6-1 at home and 6-2 in its home state of North Carolina, where this bowl game is being held.
North Carolina State ranks 56th in points given up (25 ppg), giving up 352 yards per game (220 via the pass, 132 rushing) while racking up 33 sacks and enticing 36 turnovers four of which were taken back for TDs (Brian Slay and Brandon Bishop, fumbles; David Amerson and C.J. Wilson, picks).
Earl Wolfe and Audie Cole pace the defense with 99 and 98 tackles, respectively, adding a combined seven forced fumbles, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Terrell Manning and Darryl Cato-Bishop have 11 combined sacks to go with 91 tackles, five forced fumbles, three recoveries and three picks, while Amerson has 11 picks and 54 tackles.
On offense, NC State ranks 58th in points allowed (28 ppg) while compiling 346 yards per matchup (238 via the pass, 108 on the ground). Mike Glennon has connected on 62 percent of his passes for 2,790 yards and 28 scores with 11 picks. The offensive line has surrendered 32 sacks.
Five guys have caught at least 30 passes this year, led by T.J. Graham and James Washington with 39 grabs each for a combined 941 yards and five touchdowns. Meanwhile, Washington paces the ground game with 852 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 4.0 yards per carry.