Sunday, December 28, 2008

NC State vs Rutgers Preview and Prediction


Papajohns.com Bowl
NC State vs Rutgers

Monday Dec 29 3PM ESPN
Birmingham, AL

Line: Rutgers -7

Overview

Outside of the BCS Championship Game, this bowl game arguably has the two hottest teams in the nation right now. NC State won their last four games to become bowl eligible while Rutgers has won their last six contests.

Keys to the Game:

1. Turnovers

Rutgers' QB Mike Teel's mid season turnaround also sparked the teams turnaround. Teel threw for 20 TDs in the Scarlet Knights six game winning streak and just three scores in their five losses. But the senior did have trouble with INT throwing 12 on the season. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Russell Wilson threw just 1 INT all year for the Wolfpack while tossing 16 passes into the end zone. The Pack is not overly great on offense or defense and has really relied on taking care of the ball and creating turnovers for their wins. Can State force enough turnovers to spring the upset?

2. Style of Play

Both of these offenses have exploded down the stretch, but in different ways. NC State prefers to run the ball and control the clock while Rutgers is airing it out at 367 ypg in their last 3 contests. If NC State can keep the ball away from Teel, then they have a chance with turnovers to win this game. If Rutgers is able to get ahead of State and force the Pack to pass then the Scarlet Knight defense allowing just 11ppg down the stretch can pin their ears back.

Motivation

When you are left for dead in early October and in December you are playing in a bowl game there should be no motivation issues. NC State's Tom O'Brien has won his last 6 bowl games including many where he passed over for other teams while at Boston College.

Prediction

Rutgers is one of the bigger favorites in this bowl season, but I think NC State has a real shot here. O'Brien knows how to prepare a team for a bowl game and has a heady QB in Russell Wilson. I think State gets a few turnovers and is able to pressure Teel in the second half to win in an upset. But as you can see from my confidence rating it is my least confident pick of all the bowl games.

NC State 30 Rutgers 27
NC State Covers +7

Confidence Ranking (of 34): 1
My confidence ranking of the 34 bowl games for a NC State win.


Bowls: 2-2 ATS, 3-1 SU
Season: 33-32-3 ATS, 44-24 SU


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