MORGANTOWN-No. 22 West Virginia is headed back to the Sunshine State for the bowl season.
Knocked out of the Bowl Championship Series when No. 25 Connecticut dealt South Florida a 19-16 setback in Saturday's final contest of the weekend, the Mountaineers found themselves the top choice for the committee selecting teams for the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla. at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 28.
WVU's opponent will be a familiar one-North Carolina State (8-4, 5-3 ACC)-led by a coach, Tom O'Brien, who is familiar with both the Mountaineers and the Big East from his time as the head coach at Boston College.
West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart will lead his team against North Carolina State in their season finale at the Champs Sports Bowl.
"Tommy and I go way back," WVU head coach Bill Stewart said. "We had some real battles. He is a heck of a football coach and we are looking to have a heck of a matchup."
Begun in 1990, the bowl is sponsored by the non-profit Florida Citrus Sports group, which also organizes the Capital One and Florida Classics.
The bowl was founded by Raycom and was originally played at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami where it was known as the Blockbuster Bowl, the CarQuest Bowl and the MicronPC Bowl. The bowl was also known as the Tangerine Bowl, the original name for the Capital One Bowl, from the time it moved to Orlando until Foot Locker, the parent company of Champs Sports, purchased the naming rights.
WVU will be making its third appearance in the December bowl and will be looking for its first victory. The Mountaineers dropped a 24-21 decision to South Carolina in 1995 and returned two years later only to lose to Georgia Tech by a 35-30 score. Both of those contests were played at Miami Gardens.
"We had a chance to take Notre Dame, but we believed a ranked West Virginia team that had won nine games deserved to be here," explained Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan.
This will be the third time the Wolfpack and Mountaineers have faced each other in a postseason bowl game. On Dec. 29, 1972, at the end of Lou Holtz's first season at NC State, the Wolfpack throttled the Mountaineers, 49-12, for the biggest postseason margin of victory in school history. On Dec. 31, 1975, in the final game for both Holtz and West Virginia coach Bobby Bowden at their respective schools, the Mountaineers took a 13-10 victory.
NC State's series with the Mountaineers (9-3, 5-2 Big East) consists nine games, dating back to 1914, when the school was still known as the North Carolina School of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (NC A&M). The Aggies won the inaugural game against West Virginia, 26-13. But the Mountaineers own a slim 4-5 all-time record in the series.
The last time the teams met was on Sept. 22, 1979, when the Wolfpack scored a 38-14 victory in the only game in the series played on West Virginia's home field. Orlando is a familiar postseason destination for the Pack, which has played three previous bowl games at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
"We are excited about coming to Orlando and getting an opportunity to play a team like West Virginia," NC State head coach Tom O'Brien explained.