When: Tue., Dec. 27, 8 p.m. 2011
Although that murmuration of starlings you've shared to your friends' Facebook pages was just declared bowl-eligible, it's still considered a big deal to play in one of the 35 bowl games staged after the college football season. N.C. State fans do not have to schlep very far this year and could even work in a shopping sojourn to IKEA, as the Wolfpack meets the Louisville Cardinals in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte.
N.C. State is peaking at the right time. They ignored a middling start to the season to topple Clemson from a top-10 ranking and then overcame a 27-point third-quarter deficit in the regular-season finale to beat Maryland 56-41 in the school's greatest-ever comeback. Winning the Belk Bowl, which will reputedly get players an extra 20 percent off V-neck sweaters and classic-fit wool pants at the department store, could be the seed for a memorable 2012 season for the Pack, which may return up to 14 starting players including junior quarterback Mike Glennon, who has thrown eight touchdown passes in his last two games. The 8 p.m. game airs on ESPN. —Chris Vitiello