Tue 12/28/10 6:30 PM
Florida Citrus Bowl
Rutgers W 35-14
Maryland L 38-31
Series: WVU 5-4
First Meeting: 1914
Last Meeting: 1979
West Virginia's 5-19 mark in games played in the state of Florida results in a winning percentage of just .208. What are the only three states where WVU has suffered a worse percentage? Answer, as always, at the end of this column.
The official names of N.C. State's mascots are – get this – Mr. and Ms. Wuf. Not only that, but the fact is trumpeted on the first page of the Wufpack's – er, Wolfpack's – bowl guide.
With 85 yards of total offense, Geno Smith can set the sophomore WVU record in that category. The current leader, Pat White, accounted for 2,874 yards in his sophomore campaign in 2006. He could also, with 211 total yards, become just the third player in WVU history to top 3,000 yards of total offense in a season. Marc Bulger (3,515) and White (3,059) are the only two members of that club.
With 78 receiving yards, Jock Sanders would become the fifth player in Mountaineer history to record 2,000 receiving yards in a career. David Saunders heads that select group with 2,608 yards from 1995-98.
A win in the game would give N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien a milestone and also bring him back to sea level. A victory would be O'Brien's 100th as a head coach, and it would also even his record as the Wolfpack's boss at 25-25. O'Brien is also 4-4 overall against West Virginia, having faced the Mountaineers as the head coach at Boston College.
On the flip side, West Virginia could drop the Pack back to .500 in bowl games with a win. N.C. State is 12-11-1 overall in postseason play.
KICKING IT AROUND
Two placekicking items continue to stand out on West Virginia's stat sheet. Although WVU kicker Tyler Bitancurt is debited with five missed field goals, some of those aren't his fault. Four of the misses barely crossed the line of scrimmage, as they were blocked by Mountaineer foes.
Second, WVU's opponent field goal success string continues unabated. After Coastal Carolina and Marshall combined to miss the first three kicks of the year, opposing booters have been perfect. Mountaineer foes are now on a 16-straight string of successful attempts.
I'M JUST SAYING
This item is not an attempt to reignite any discussions about the changes on the coaching staff. It's meant, instead, to point out levels of success and how they match expectations.
West Virginia has won at least eight games in each of the last nine seasons. Only five other schools in the FBS have matched that achievement: Boise State, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. That doesn't mean, of course, that West Virginia can't strive to achieve at even higher levels. But it does point out that the Mountaineers have been remarkably consistent, and have played well, over the past decade.
ACROSS THE LINE
N.C. State linebacker Nate Irving has been a dominant playmaker for the Wolfpack this year, but he had one of the best one-day performances in history against Wake Forest. The senior defender racked up eight tackles for loss, resulting in 22 negative yards for the Demon Deacons.
STREAKBREAKER? Following its inaugural year in Orlando (2001), Champs Sports Bowl attendance has improved in each of the last eight years, a national best.
WVU lost in its only appearance in Hawaii, was defeated in both of its games in Oregon, and dropped all six of its games in Michigan.
If you want a guaranteed win, head for Nebraska or Mississippi. WVU won its sole appearance in each of those two states.