Wolfpack heading to Champs Sports Bowl

Staff WriterDecember 6, 2010 

Senior linebacker Nate Irving waited until the end of the news conference announcing N.C. State's bowl destination, then he said what was on his mind.

"We're going to Disney World," he said, smiling.

The Champs Sports Bowl announced Sunday night that N.C. State (8-4) will meet No. 22-ranked West Virginia (9-3) in the game in Orlando, Fla. - the home of Walt Disney World Resort. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 28 at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium and will be televised by ESPN.

It's the most high-profile bowl trip for the Wolfpack since its Jan. 1, 2003, win over Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. N.C. State administrators pushed hard for this selection, sending senior associate athletic director Chris Kingston to Orlando to hand-deliver the school's marketing plan.

"Our fans are just known to travel well," athletic director Debbie Yow said.

N.C. State's ticket allotment for the bowl is 13,500. Tickets cost $65 each and are available on the Wolfpack's website, www.gopack.com, and at the N.C. State ticket office at 919-865-1510.

The Champs Sports Bowl has the third pick from the ACC. Virginia Tech (11-2), which defeated Florida State 44-33 in the ACC title game Saturday night in Charlotte, will meet Stanford in the Jan. 3 Orange Bowl in Miami.

Florida State (9-4) will play South Carolina at Atlanta in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl, which announced last week that it would select the loser of the ACC title game. The Champs Sports Bowl picked next and settled on N.C. State.

In other games involving ACC teams, North Carolina plays border-state foe Tennessee in the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl; Miami renews its rivalry with Notre Dame in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl; Maryland meets East Carolina in the Dec. 29 Military Bowl; Boston College plays Nevada in the Jan. 9 Fight Hunger Bowl, and Georgia Tech meets Air Force in the Dec. 27 Independence Bowl.

Steve Hogan, the CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, which runs the Champs Sports Bowl, said he was impressed with N.C. State's record and wins over Florida State and Conference USA champion Central Florida.

"We just want to reward a team that deserves to be here," Hogan said, "and they definitely deserve to be here."

Hogan also considered Maryland, which has an overall and ACC record (5-3) identical to N.C. State's. The Terrapins defeated the Wolfpack 38-31 in the final game of the regular season on Nov. 27.

But the Terrapins already had played West Virginia, and Hogan didn't want to schedule a rematch, so that was another factor that helped secure a bowl trip quarterback Russell Wilson was eager to make.

Before the team boarded the plane to leave Maryland after the loss that kept the Wolfpack out of the ACC title game, Wilson asked Yow what had to be done to get N.C. State to the Champs Sports Bowl.

"After Plan A falls apart, you've got to go to Plan B," Wilson said. "I think the Champs Sports Bowl is a great situation for us. It's a great game, and we know West Virginia is a great team."

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com or 919-829-8942

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