Pitt (6-5, 4-3) takes on the Wolfpack (7-4,4-4) On December 20th, in Orlando, FL. in a game that matches two of the hottest teams in the country. Pitt, who started out 1-5, turned their season around by winning 5 games in a row to finish the season. One of the wins was over then #12 Virginia Tech. NC State comes into the game winners of 4 of their last 5 games. The only loss was a near upset of #9 Maryland. They also beat Florida State 34-28 on that late season run. The Wolfpack are led on offense by outstanding QB Philip Rivers who was 240 or 369 for 2,586 yards and 16 TD's this season. He has the Luxury of throwing to 4 WR's who have at least 40 catches! They are Ray Robinson 52 catches for 376 yards and 1 TD, Bryan Peterson 48 catches for 657 yards and 2 TD's, Jerricho Cotchery 41 catches for 483 yards and 4 TD's, and Willie Wright 40 catches for 443 yards and 5 TD's. They also have 4 other players with at least 11 catches! Ray Robinson is also their leading rusher with 733 yards on 190 carries for a 3.9 avg and 10 TD's. The Wolfpack are led on defense by 1st team Associated Press All-American linebacker Levar Fisher. He was also selected as the ACC defensive player of the year in 2000 and is the all-time leader in tackles at NC State. He is 6-2 233 and is expected to be a high draft choice in the NFL. NC State is ranked 52nd in rushing defense, 55 in passing defense, 47th in total defense and 25th in scoring defense in the country.
Pitt is ranked 25th in rushing defense, 6th in passing defense, 7th in total defense, and 28th in scoring defense. NC State is ranked 97th in rushing offense, 41st in passing offense, 75th in total offense and 56th in scoring offense. Pitt is ranked 84th in rushing offense, 56th in passing offense, 82nd in total offense, and 79th in scoring offense. Vegas currently has Pitt a 1-point favorite in the game. Key's for the Panthers will be trying to shut down an excellent NC State passing game, try to control the ball on offense, avoid any turnovers and avoid 3 and outs when on offense. This gives Pitt back-to-back bowl trips for the first time since the 1982-1983 seasons! Pitt has an 8-12 all-time record in Bowl games.