Watch the 2014 Bitcoin Bowl: N.C. State vs. UCF game time, TV schedule, live online streaming
The Wolfpack and Knights square off under the lights at the Trop. Here’s how to see it.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack take aim at their first bowl win in three years when they play UCF in the St. Petersburg Bowl on December 26. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET, with television coverage on ESPN.
Friday’s game will mark the eighth playing of the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, and the first to feature a power conference team since 2010. N.C. State is making its first appearance in the Trop, while UCF played in the 2009 and 2012 games and holds a 1-1 record in the bowl.
After losing their first two games of the season against Penn State and Missouri, George O’Leary’s UCF squad righted the ship and won nine of their final ten games. In its first season after losing Blake Bortles, the first quarterback taken in last spring’s NFL Draft, O’Leary quickly found a replacement. Sophomore Justin Holman struggled early but emerged as one of the American Conference’s best signalcallers, completing 59 percent of his pass attempts for 2,661 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Wolfpack started 4-0 and played close against then-No. 1 Florida State, but a loss to the Seminoles sent N.C. State into freefall. The Wolfpack lost their next three games, but closed with wins over Wake Forest and rival North Carolina to seal bowl eligibility after missing the postseason last year. N.C. State has done it on the ground, averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game.
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game time: December 26, 8 p.m. ET
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Rankings and records: Neither NC State nor UCF is ranked entering the postseason. The Wolfpack are 7-5, while UCF is 9-3.
Vegas: UCF is favored by two points, with the over/under at 49.5.
Weather forecast: It’s guaranteed to be 72 and artificially sunny in the Tropicana Dome.
Two things at stake
For Central Florida, it’s history on the line. From 1996 to 2009 — their first 14 seasons in FBS football — the Knights had recorded just one ten-win season and never won a bowl game. Since that time, UCF has won ten or more games three times and taken a bowl victory from each of them. A win Friday would extend both streaks to four.
For N.C. State, a program in desperate need of some momentum for a second-year coach, a win could catapult it into the conversation for 2015. An 8-5 N.C. State with its first bowl win in three years could generate excitement. Excitement generates recruits. And recruits generate success.
One big matchup
Shadrach Thornton vs. the UCF front seven: Thornton, N.C. State’s top halfback, has been crucial to the Wolfpack’s success this season. In games where he surpassed 70 yards on the ground, N.C. State went 5-1, and his 28-carry, 161-yard performance in the season finale against North Carolina set the tone. But Shadrach might find some stiff opposition in the UCF defense, which finished fifth nationally in rushing defense and allowed just 8 rushing touchdowns all season.