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Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Belk Bowl keys

By Heather Dinich

Here are three keys for the NC State heading into the Belk Bowl matchup against Louisvilee:

1. Win the field position battle. Louisville is No. 2 in the country in punt return yardage defense, and opponents have returned 12 punts for a total of five net yards in 12 games. NC State’s defense has the ability to create a short field with turnovers, but it also has one of the nation’s top punt returners in T.J. Graham. If the Pack can put itself in a good position to begin with, quarterback Mike Glennon can take care of the rest. That's assuming, though, that the offensive line can ...

2. Protect Glennon. NC State is No. 99 in the country in sacks allowed, with 33 overall this season. Louisville linebacker Dexter Heyman has three interceptions and four sacks on the year. NC State’s offensive line has to give Glennon time to throw. He’s got a strong, accurate arm, but Louisville is No. 17 in the country in sacks with 2.67 per game.

3. Three’s the charm. NC State is 7-0 this season when forcing three or more turnovers. Any fewer than that and they’re winless. The Wolfpack leads the ACC and ranks fifth nationally in turnover margin with a +1.17 per game, +14 mark for the season. State ranks second nationally in turnovers gained, having picked off 24 passes and recovered a dozen fumbles.