Early Bowl Breakdown

West Virginia will be a tough challenge for NC State in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl. The game is still a few weeks away, but here is a look at how the Wolfpack could matchup.

Scouting the running game: West Virginia has the second-best rushing defense in the country, and the Wolfpack hasn't had a 100-yard rusher all season.

That's probably a sign that North Carolina State should plan on moving the ball through the air, although Russell Wilson remains dangerous when he finds himself with a collapsed pocket and a lane to run in.

Scouting the passing game: Though the Mountaineers also have an excellent passing defense, this is where North Carolina State usually shines.

With Russell Wilson under center, and threats like Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and T.J. Graham to throw to, the Wolfpack can make things happen in a hurry through the air.

Scouting the run defense: The Wolfpack defense is very good against the run, and West Virginia is just an average team on the ground.

One thing that North Carolina State excels at is getting to the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage, and getting penetration at the line will be a key factor here. West Virginia's Noel Devine is fast enough that if he can get behind the defense, he can run a long way in a hurry.

Scouting the pass defense: North Carolina State's secondary has been better than many expected in September, but it's still had its good days and its bad days. West Virginia isn't a great passing team by the numbers, but it can break the big play at any time with a coverage breakdown.

Scouting the special teams: Kick returns were supposed to be an area of strength for the Wolfpack thanks to Graham, but instead, that unit has been one of the least effective in the league.

Punting has also been a weakness, so if this becomes a low-scoring battle for field position, West Virginia may have the edge.

Intangibles: West Virginia certainly has more experience in bowl games that North Carolina State does. The Mountaineers will be better able to handle the demands of the bowl week, though the team also might be more likely to look on wistfully at the programs in the BCS bowls and not focus as much on the task at hand.

The Mountaineers already have had to answer questions about the future of their coach, Bill Stewart, so if that continues as a distraction during the bowl week, it won't help West Virginia's chances.

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