ORLANDO, Fla. — Quick hits and notes from NC State's 23-7 win over No. 22 West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl on Tuesday in front of 48,962 fans at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
NC State finished 9-4 on the year, matching the second most wins in a year for the Wolfpack football program. The record for the most victories in a season was 11 in 2002. Eight different Wolfpack teams have now posted nine wins in a year. The last nine-win team was 1994.
Head coach Tom O'Brien also improved his overall record to 100-70 overall in 14 years at both Boston College and NC State. O'Brien is the third coach in the ACC to have at least 100 wins, joining Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer and Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson. He is now 25-25 as the Wolfpack head coach. O'Brien improved his bowl record to 8-2, 1-1 at NC State.
NC State improved to 3-1 in bowl games played in the Florida Citrus Bowl. The Pack is now 13-11-1 in bowl games overall and 5-5 all-time against West Virginia. The Mountaineers fell to 13-17 all-time in bowls and lost for the first time in the month of December under embattled head coach Bill Stewart's three-year reign at WVU.
Something about Orlando
The last time NC State played in Orlando, they knocked off eventual Conference USA champ Central Florida 28-21 thanks to five turnovers. They forced five more turnovers against West Virginia Tuesday night. Both games may have been highlighted by a turnover forced by sophomore safety Brandan Bishop.
Against Central Florida, Bishop forced the game-clinching fumble with a big hit. Tuesday night he may have made the play of the game for NC State with a leaping interception of West Virginia sophomore quarterback Geno Smith at the NC State 10-yard line with 10:20 left in the game and NC State up 16-7.
Bishop finished the year with four interceptions.
Historic night for Czajkowski
Fifth-year senior kicker Josh Czajkowski made his first three field goal attempts from distances of 45, 38 and 40 yards to tie former kicker Marc Primanti's school record of 20 made field goals in a year that Primanti set in 1996. He missed a chance to set the record when he failed to connect on a 27-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Czajkowski ended his career with 46 made field goals, third highest ever in a Wolfpack uniform.
Wilson is MVP
Redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson was named the Champs Sports Bowl MVP after completing 28 of 45 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns and running for 41 yards without turning the football over once. Wilson had the third highest single game bowl passing yards total for the Pack.
Eleven different receivers caught passes for State, led by fifth-year senior Jarvis Williams who caught six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown playing in the stadium that his high school, Jones High in Orlando, played most of their home games.
Also catching passes was redshirt sophomore tight end Mario Carter, who seemed to have been elevated to second-string behind All-ACC tight end George Bryan. Carter caught two passes for 11 yards after catching just one pass for 14 yards all season.
Carter was not the only one with an increased role Tuesday night. Redshirt freshman left guard Duran Christophe earned his first career start after redshirt sophomore Andrew Wallace was a late scratch with a knee injury.
Head coach Tom O'Brien quickly stepped in after the game in the press conference when Wilson was asked about his future.
"We're not going to answer any questions about the future," O'Brien stated. "We're going to enjoy tonight. It's been a great night. We'll decide sometime in the next week or so and figure it out. It's going to be what's best for Russell, and that's what the decision is going to be. Let's forget about that and let's enjoy what we have to do tonight."
Wilson was asked later to talk about what football means to him and gave this answer:
"I've been blessed to have the opportunity to play football and baseball my whole life," he said. "If it happens, you know, in the future that I can still do that. If it doesn't, whatever, but I know that playing for Coach O'Brien and playing for NC State, whether I do come back or not, has been a great opportunity.
"It's been a great blessing, and I'm very passionate about NC State and NC State football and will always be. Every single day I worked my butt off to try to be the best player I can be. I want to be a starting quarterback in the NFL one day. I want to be a starting second baseman in major league baseball."
Spotted in the press box
NFL scouts from the Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings were all in attendance.
Spotted from the press box was the grounds crew wasting no time at all getting the Astroturf field ready for the Capital One Bowl Saturday featuring Alabama against Michigan State. By midnight the NC State end zone was already painted over in green and the Champs Sports Bowl midfield logo was nearly gone.