ORLANDO, Fla. (KDKA/AP) – West Virginia’s defense entered the Champs Sports Bowl ranked second in points allowed (12.8). They also only allowed 85.1 rushing yards and 251.3 yards per game.
However, that defense could not stop quarterback Russell Wilson and the NC State Wolfpack on Tuesday night in Orlando, Fla. as the Wolpack beat the Mountaineers 23-7.
Wilson, who earned the bowl’s MVP honor, threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns. The NC State offense also ran for 103 yards on 36 carries.
Wilson dove the ball down the field in the first quarter and scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Mustafa Greene to put the Wolfpack up 7-0. They never had trouble moving the ball after that.
Wilson was 28 for 45 passing, had no interceptions and shredded a West Virginia defense that had been solid. It was the most points the Mountaineers – who had never given up more than 21 points – allowed all season.
West Virginia’s quarterback, Geno Smith, threw for 196 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Smith was also the team’s leading rusher with 59 yards on 12 carries. The team’s second leading rusher was injured running back Noel Devine, who ran for 50 yards on eight carries.
The Post-Gazette’s Colin Dunlap is reporting that Smith will need surgery on his left foot to repair stress fractures.
The Mountaineers were down 10-7 at the start of the second half. Any hope of a second half comeback faded with the team turning the ball over five times in the half.
This could be the final bowl game for coach Bill Stewart at West Virginia. Last week, his replacement was announced by WVU athletic director Oliver Luck. Former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen will replace Stewart after next season.
Holgorsen will be on Stewart’s coaching staff next season as WVU’s offensive coordinator before taking over the job in 2012. He will also bring in a new coaching staff to the offensive side of the ball.
When asked about next year, Stewart said, “I don’t mean to be a wise (guy), but this is not the time to talk about next year. I just finished a bowl game. I’ll see them Jan. 9 and we’ll start preparation then for 2011.”