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Monday, December 29, 2008
Papajohns.com Bowl preview

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

WHO TO WATCH: NC State linebacker Nate Irving. He's the heart of this team's defense and one of the best linebackers in the ACC. The Wolfpack are 4-0 since Irving's return from an ankle injury and he has posted 41 tackles during that span. He is tied for third on the team with 77 tackles despite missing three games.

WHAT TO WATCH: Quarterbacks. NC State's Russell Wilson and Rutgers' Mike Teel are the catalysts behind their teams' remarkable late-season surges. Wilson has thrown 226 consecutive passes without being picked off -- a school record and the longest active streak in the nation. Wilson, who has thrown just one interception this season, threw his lone pick in the first half of the Clemson game on Sept. 13.

WHY TO WATCH: Rutgers and NC State finished the regular season as two of the hottest teams in the country. Both teams have turned their seasons around in the second half, as NC State started 2-4 and finished 4-2. NC State is in a bowl game for the first time under second-year coach Tom O'Brien and the first time since 2005.