|N.C. State (8-5)||31|
by CFP Staff
N.C. State stretched that lead to 31-10 with a 34-yard Niklas Sade field goal and Amerson's 64-yard interception return that evoked memories of Deion Sanders as he weaved in-and-out of the grasp of would-be tacklers.
While Louisville fought back, the final result never really seemed threatened as the Cardinals didn't get to within 7 points until less than 4 minutes remained. Louisville couldn't recover an onside kick and when they finally got the ball back, Amerson ended any straggling Cardinal hopes with the interception of a floating Bridgewater pass at the Wolfpack's 16-yard line.
North Carolina State improved its bowl record to 14-11-1 with its fifth win in its last six tries.
ACC teams are now 6-4 in ten Belk Bowls while Big East teams are 4-5 (Independents are 0-1).
Louisville was making its first appearance in the game, while N.C. State improved to 2-0 in the Charlotte, North Carolina bowl, having also defeated USF 14-0 in the 2005 edition.
Both teams needed dramatic season turnarounds to get here. The Wolfpack opened the season 2-3 in which both wins came against FCS schools. They went 5-2 down the stretch and became bowl qualified in the final regular season game by overcoming a 27-point deficit to Maryland in the second half with 42 unanswered points.
Louisville also finished the regular season 7-5 by going 5-1 in the back half of the season after opening 2-4. The Cardinals finished 5-2 in Big East play to capture a share of their conference title with Cincinnati and West Virginia.
61.5% of CollegeFootballPoll.com voters picked Louisville to win, but the Congrove Computer Rankings projected this game to be the 6th-closest of the 35-game bowl season with the Wolfpack getting a 1.36-point edge.