Louisville To Face North Carolina State In Belk Bowl On Dec. 27

'Tis official.

Here's the release:

The University of Louisville and NC State were selected for a clash in the 2011 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 27 at Bank of America Stadium. The game is set for an 8 p.m. ET kickoff, and it will be televised on ESPN and aired on the Louisville Sports Radio Network.

The Cardinals tied West Virginia and Cincinnati for a share of the BIG EAST title with 5-2 league records, but West Virginia broke the three-way tie with a higher BCS ranking. The Cardinals defeated the Mountaineers earlier in the year in Morgantown, 38-35, but dropped a 25-16 decision at Cincinnati.

"We are very excited for the opportunity to bring our football team and fans to the Belk Bowl," University Vice President/Athletic Director, Tom Jurich, said. "Charlotte is a wonderful city, and we are playing in an NFL stadium against a high-quality opponent in NC State. Charlotte is close in proximity for our fans and could be an easy drive after the Christmas holiday. This game is a reward for a great coaching job by Charlie (Strong) and the staff, and a great reward for our team, which exceeded everyone's expectations and won the BIG EAST title. It's also a great reward for our fans to travel to a great destination to see two very good teams face off against one another."

"We are thrilled to accept an invitation to the Belk Bowl," head coach Charlie Strong reiterated. "Charlotte is a great city, and I'm so excited to take this team to another great bowl game. I'm so proud of our football team and coaching staff to be 2-4 earlier this season and end the year by winning five of the last six games and become BIG EAST champions. We have fought through a lot of adversity this year and to end the year with a high-quality bowl game versus a tough opponent like NC State is a great way to end the year."

The Cardinals finished the regular season 7-5 overall. However, Louisville heads into postseason play as one of the hottest teams in the country. The team was sitting at 2-4 after the loss to Cincinnati on Oct. 15, but responded by winning five of its last six to earn a share of its first BIG EAST title since 2006.

he Cardinals and Wolfpack will be meeting for the fourth time in series history, with Louisville holding a 3-0 advantage. Louisville defeated the NC State, 27-10, in the last meeting (2007) at Carter Finley Stadium. Previously, the Cardinals defeated the Wolfpack, 35-14, in 1994 and 26-2 in 1951.

Louisville is making its 16th postseason trip and second straight under Strong, who is 13-11 in his first two seasons at the helm of the program. Louisville defeated Southern Miss, 31-28, in the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl a year ago.

All-time, the Cardinals are 7-7-1 in postseason play and have won their last two contests.

Against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Louisville owns an 18-36-1 record. In bowl games, the Cardinals are 1-1 against ACC teams, having defeated Wake Forest, 24-13, in the 2007 Orange Bowl and falling to the Hokies, 35-24, in the 2006 Gator Bowl. Strong is 0-1 versus members of the ACC following a 14-7 loss earlier this year to North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Louisville is one of the youngest teams in the country, with a combined 10 freshmen starting on offense and defense. Of the six freshmen starters on offense, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has made the biggest splash, throwing for 1,855 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named Rivals.com National Player of the Week twice and broke Chris Redman's freshman passing yards record. Redshirt freshman Michaelee Harris leads the Cardinals with 37 receptions for 455 yards and a pair of scores, while true freshman DeVante Parker has a team-high six touchdown receptions.

The Cardinals rank second in the BIG EAST and 22nd nationally in total defense (327.8), No. 13 in the country against the run (13.5) and No. 14 in scoring defense (19.17 points per game). Louisville, which is a pressure team that relies on getting to the quarterback, is tied for 17th in the country in sacks (2.67) and tied for 18th in tackles for loss (7.25).

Information on the Belk Bowl and all related events can be found on the bowl's website at http://www.belkbowl.com.

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