By Dave Morrison
West Virginia Sunday night officially accepted a bid to play in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 28.
West Virginia (9-3, 5-2 Big East) will take on the ACC’s North Carolina State Wolfpack in the game that kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
Coach Bill Stewart and Athletic Director Oliver Luck accepted the invitation from Champs Sports Bowl representatives.
“We are proud and excited to be a participant and we are looking forward to this opportunity,” Stewart said.
Stewart has had three straight 9-win seasons as the Mountaineers’ head coach and is 2-1 in bowl games.
“Both N.C. State and West Virginia have enjoyed very successful seasons and we are already seeing a lot of excitement for this game in Orlando,” Selection Committee Chairman Chuck Beverly said. “It’s going to be fun watching one of the nation’s best offenses face one of the best defenses.”
West Virginia, which has won four straight and earned a share of the Big East championship with Connecticut and Pitt, was in line for a BCS game had South Florida beaten UConn Saturday night. UConn won it 16-13 on a career-long 52-yard field goal by Dave Teggart with 17 seconds left.
Stewart said there was no disappointment from his players.
“I’ve seen no disappointment at all,” Stewart said. “I’ve received calls from several players today and we are really excited about this opportunity.”
N.C. State (8-4) was in line to play in the ACC championship game but fell to Maryland 38-31 in its season finale Nov. 27.
Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien is no stranger to Stewart or Mountaineer fans. He was a long-time head coach at Boston College when the Eagles were members of the Big East.
“We’ve been friends for many years,” Stewart said. “He is a guy of tremendous character and a heck of a football coach. It’s a real thrill to go up against the Wolfpack.”
Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson is the team’s star and leader of the high-scoring Wolfpack offense. He has completed 280 of 482 attempts for 3,288 yards with 26 TDs and 14 interceptions, and he has 384 yards on the ground and nine scores.
Wilson was recruited to N.C. State by WVU assistant coach Steve Dunlap when he was coaching at N.C. State, Stewart said.
He will be going up against one of the nation’s best defenses in WVU. The Mountaineers finished the regular season third in total defense (259.3 yards per game), second in rushing defense (85.1), second in scoring defense (12.8) and 11th in pass defense (166.3).
The Mountaineers are 5-4 all-time vs. North Carolina State and have met twice in the Peach Bowl. WVU beat N.C. State 13-10 in 1975 but lost to the Wolfpack 49-13 in the 1972 game. The last time the two teams met, the Wolfpack won 38-14 in 1979.
Tickets for West Virginia’s appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl will go on sale to the general public today at 9 a.m.
Available tickets in the WVU allotment are $65 each and can be purchased online at WVUGAME.com, or by calling the Mountaineer Ticket Office at 1-800-WVU GAME.
All 2010 Mountaineer Athletic Club donors and football season ticket holders may place their priority bowl ticket requests online at WVUGAME.com by following the instructions found in the priority bowl mailing they received in November.