Stepping up in the bowls: NC State

Few outside the program were expecting much from NC State this season, but the Wolfpack were surprise contenders for the Atlantic Division in late November, needing only a win over Maryland to advance to the ACC championship game. The Pack couldn’t get it done in College Park, but the program still has a chance at a nine-win season with a win over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. It would be the second-most wins in school history and the most under coach Tom O’Brien, who needs one more victory to reach 100 in his career.

In order for that to happen, who needs to step up?

NC State’s offensive line: Yes, the defense is going to have to play better than it did in the regular-season finale loss to Maryland, but in order to win this game, the guys up front are going to have to give their magic man time to work. West Virginia has two standout pass-rushers in defensive ends Julian Miller (8.0) and Bruce Irvin (12.0), who have combined for 20 sacks this year. The Mountaineers’ 3.3 sacks per game ranks third nationally, just ahead of NC State, which ranks fourth with 3.25. Against Maryland, quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked on fourth down from the Maryland 8-yard line. NC State is tied for 104th in the country in sacks allowed with 2.83 per game and 34 total.