When the Louisville Cardinals take the field tomorrow night in Charlotte, North Carolina, they will be the first of five teams to represent the Big East in bowl games.
The Cardinals (7-5) will be taking on the North Carolina State Wolfpack (7-5) in a Big East-ACC matchup.
Both teams had very slow starts to the season, but came on strong at the end of the year. The Wolfpack finished by wining five of their final seven games after starting the season 2-3.
Louisville won five of their final six games and finished in a three-way tie for the Big East championship.
While NC State is balanced on both sides of the ball and ranks near the middle of the pack in both categories, Louisville has been dominant on defense for most of the season, only allowing 19 points a game, good for 14th in the country.
The key to the success for Louisville has been the emergence of true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater stepped into the starting role midway through the season and the Cardinals have scored 27 or more points in four of their final five games after failing to do so in any of their first seven games.
The way Louisville will win this game is with ball control and clock management.
They have no individual running back or receiver over 500 yards on the season. It is completely a team game and they have been successful playing that way as of late.
When NC State has the ball, Louisville will be keying on senior quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon has passed for nearly 3,000 yards on the season to go along with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
He likes to spread the ball out to a number of different receivers as five players have at least 30 catches and at least 300 yards.
When NC State runs the ball, junior James Washington receives most of the carries. He has 852 yards and seven touchdowns on the year to go along with 300 yards receiving and a team-leading 39 receptions.
The key to this game will be how the youth of the Louisville Cardinals responds to the biggest game they have played in so far in their careers.
This is a game that could come down to the wire, with the defense of Louisville giving them the slight edge.
Prediction: Louisville 23, NC State 13