N.C. State (6-5) vs South Florida (6-5)
The Wolfpack beat the Terrapins in the last game of the season 20-14. Entering the game both teams were 5-5 and fighting for bowl eligibility. NC State got the win behind a Toney Baker touchdown run and a Marcus Hudson interception return for a touchdown.
Marcus Stone took over the quarterback reigns midway through the season from Jay Davis. Stone threw for 888 yards, 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions while Davis struggled, throwing for 1,267 yards, 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. The Wolfpack have a great set of young running backs, led by freshmen Andre Brown and Toney Baker. Brown rushed for 666 yards and 5 touchdowns and Baker rushed for 453 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end T.J. Williams led the ‘Pack in receptions with 35 for 371 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brian Clark added 22 catches for 471 yards and 5 touchdowns. NC State was 10th in the ACC in total offense (315.7) and 9th in scoring offense (21.4).
Defensively, the Wolfpack were led by leading tackler, linebacker Stephen Tulloch, with 119 tackles and 16 tackles for a loss. NC State has the most dominant defense line in the conference led by bookend ends Mario Williams and Manny Lawson. They combined for 38.5 tackles for a loss and 22.5 sacks. The Wolfpack were 5th in the conference in total defense (299) and gave up 19.3 points per game.
The Bulls lost their season finale to West Virginia 28-13 in front of a record home crowd of 45,000+ in Tampa. They have now lost two games in a row to finish the '05 season at 6-5. But they did receive an invitation to their first ever bowl game and finished 3rd in the Big East in a season when they were not expected to do much.
Quarterback Pat Julmiste led the Bulls with 1,398 passing yards, 6 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. The MVP of the offense for the second consecutive year was running back Andre Hall. He rushed for 1,307 yards (5.2 per carry) and 13 touchdowns. He also led the team in receptions with 24 for 272 yards and 2 touchdowns. USF finished the regular season 2nd in the Big East in rushing offense (209.1), 4th in total offense (352.4) and 4th in scoring offense (25.1).
The Bulls were one of the top teams in the conference in terms of defense. This unit was 3rd in total defense (313) and 2nd in scoring defense (18.4). Three linebackers led the way, Ben Moffitt, Pat St. Louis and Stephen Nicholas. They combined for 234 tackles, 35.5 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks. Nicholas, Terrence Royal, and Jason Allen each had 7 sacks apiece.