Belk Bowl Predictions: Louisville Cardinals vs. NC State Wolfpack

Louisville Cardinals vs. NC State Wolfpack
Tuesday, 12/27/11, 8:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN
Opening Point Spread:  NC State -1.5
Current Betting Line:  NC State -1
Opening Total:  45.5
Current Total:  44.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The NC State Wolfpack are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite of a field goal or less

Louisville tied with West Virginia and Cincinnati for a share of the Big East title with a 5-2 league record, but lost out on a higher bowl bid due to possessing a lower BCS ranking.  Cardinals second-year head coach Charlie Strong has the program moving in the right direction and hopes freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can continue his solid play.  “He plays with so much poise and he’s a guy that can get us out of bad play,” commented Strong last week.  Offensively, the team has a credible running back tandem in Dominique Brown and Victory Anderson, combining for 960 yards and seven touchdowns.  Louisville is 8-4 ATS this season.

The Cardinals captured a 31-28 win over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles last year in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.  Louisville came into this season as one of the youngest teams in major college football, starting a combined 10 freshmen on offense and defense.  Defense is certainly the name of the game under Strong, as the unit ranked second among conference teams and 23rd nationally in allowing just 327.8 yards per game.  Louisville is 7-7-1 all-time in postseason play and 18-36-1 against members of the ACC.

NC State won five of its final seven games to qualify for the Belk Bowl, as the defense tightened up in surrendering just 291.7 yards per game in its final six contests.  The Wolfpack posted their largest comeback in school history last time out, posting a 56-41 victory over the Maryland Terrapins as 11.5-point home favorites, overcoming a 27-point deficit.  “It speaks to the character of the kids,” commented Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien.  NC State is 12-7 ATS as an underdog over the last two-plus campaigns.

The Wolfpack will go as far as quarterback Mike Glennon will take them in this matchup, finishing the regular season with 2,790 yards and 28 touchdowns.  He did a great job in playing the position with Russell Wilson transferring to Wisconsin.  NC State has been outscored by a 174-139 margin in the first half, but has outscored its opponent 197-123 in the second.  On the defensive end, David Amerson must be watched in the secondary, leading the nation with 11 interceptions.  The Wolfpack led all teams with 24 interceptions this season, setting a school record.

Bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 12-1 ATS mark versus ACC foes, while the Wolfpack are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite of a field goal or less.

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