NC State vs Arizona State Preview and Prediction: Sun Bowl
NC State vs Arizona State Preview
North Carolina State (8-4) and Arizona State (7-5) will meet for only the third time. Both previous games were held in Tempe, Ariz. The Sun Devils won in 1960 and the Wolfpack in 1974.
This meeting comes with the chance to win a bowl game, something both programs have done lately.
N.C. State is making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance under coach Dave Doeren and is playing in its sixth bowl game in seven years. It had signature regular-season victories over Florida State and Louisville.
Arizona State is in its fifth bowl game in the last six seasons, but its inability to get to the Rose Bowl since 1997, plus a general downward trend, cost Graham. The Sun Devils had 28 victories in his first three seasons after replacing Dennis Erickson and reached the Pac-12 championship game in 2013, but they have only 18 wins in his final three.
“You always want to leave a place better than you found it, and I think I’ve done that,” Graham said. “I’m a Sun Devil and I think I always will be. This place is not about one person. I’m really proud of what we have done here. There are great things ahead for this program.
“Fired up about going to get our eighth win.”
Todd Graham will coach his last game with the Sun Devils after being fired the day following a victory over Arizona in the regular-season finale. Arizona State athletic director and former NFL player agent Ray Anderson hired former client Herman Edwards to run the program, and Graham graciously chose to remain and coach the game.
For NC State quarterback Ryan Finley, it could be his last game as well. Finley has risen draft boards this season with stellar play and it is assumed he will forgo his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.
“Obviously you want to finish what you started on a high note, and that’s with a win in El Paso,” Finley said. “We’re excited about going down there, and our No. 1 goal is to get the win.”
Sun Devils quarterback Manny Wilkins had a season similar to Finley, completing 235 of 370 passes for 2,918 yards. He had 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. Wilkins also rushed for 269 yards and six touchdowns.
Senior defensive end Bradley Chubb leads the NC State defense. A consensus All-American, Chubb won the Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendricks awards as the best defensive lineman in the nation. He has 60 tackles for losses, including 26 sacks, in his career.
Chubb was told he would be a high draft choice last year but chose to return for his final year. Junior defensive end Darian Roseboro is faced with that choice this year.
“Each one of these young men are different,” Doeren told the News & Observer. “The NFL gives you different information on all of them. You go through it and try to help them make the decision that’s best for them and their families and don’t push them one way or the other, since it’s a really big decision.”
If you wanted to watch a game that features multiple players that could play on Sunday’s, this matchup is for you.
RB- Nyheim Hines
RB- Kalen Ballage
WR- N’Keal Harry (only a sophomore, eligible for 2019 NFL Draft)
Arizona State can sneak up on opponents–just look what they did to Washington. The Sun Devils’ stymied Pac-12 champion and Fiesta Bowl participant Washington in their biggest win of the season, a 13-7 victory on Oct. 14 in which the Huskies had only 230 yards total offense. For most of the season, the SUn Devils have been terrible on defense, allowing an average of 447 yards per game, 108th among the 129 FBS schools. They have given up 31.3 points a game, about a touchdown more than the Wolfpack.
I like the Wolf Pack to finish the season strong, defeating the Sun Devils by more than a touchdown.
NC State 38 Arizona State 24