Louis Fernandez, a sports reporter for WRAL, wrote this article.
The journey of the college football season has been complex for NC State, North Carolina, and Duke, ultimately resulting in a spot in a post-season bowl game for each team.
The College Football Playoff has been determined and will proceed without any controversy. Bowl game pairings were gradually revealed on Sunday afternoon.
NC State: Pop-Tarts Bowl
Rival: Kansas State Wildcats, ranked 25th
The date and time is December 28 at 5:45 p.m. on ESPN.
Location: Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
Reworded: Despite a rocky start, the Wolfpack managed to transform their season under head coach Dave Doeren and achieve one of their strongest performances yet. After a break in mid-October, NC State has won five consecutive games, including a decisive victory over in-state rival North Carolina to close out the regular season.
NC State’s offense went from inept to explosive, using a combination of the talents of ACC freshman of the year KC Concepcion and the reemergence of Virginia transfer quarterback Brendan Armstrong. The Wolfpack averaged 28.8 points per game during its win streak.
The defense has become a dominant force, setting the tone for the team. It is led by Payton Wilson, who was named the 2023 ACC defensive player of the year.
Currently, the Wolfpack’s goal is to achieve a feat that has only been accomplished once in their history: winning 10 games. Under Doeren’s leadership, NC State has achieved nine wins in a single season three times. The most notable season was in 2002, when head coach Chuck Amato and quarterback Philip Rivers led the team to 11 wins. In the Gator Bowl that year, NC State secured their 11th victory by defeating Notre Dame with a score of 28-6.
Following the game, the winning team’s coach will have the opportunity to take a bite from a live Pop-Tart mascot. Doeren had a unique concept for how he would approach this situation.
“Is it acceptable to pair a Pop-Tart with a smooth bourbon or similar drink afterwards?” Doeren asked during a press conference. “Is that considered part of the Pop-Tart experience?”
Duke: 76 Birmingham Bowl
Opponent: Troy Trojans
On December 23, the game will start at 12 PM on ABC.
Venue: Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama.
After beginning the season with a record of 5-1, the Blue Devils ended with a 2-4 record due to quarterback Riley Leonard’s injuries being a major obstacle. However, he will not be available for Duke in the postseason, as he recently announced his departure from the team.
Unfortunately, head coach Mike Elko will not be present. Elko has taken on the role of head coach for the Texas A&M Aggies at College Station. The director of Duke athletics, Nina King, announced that associate head coach and running backs coach Troop Taylor will temporarily serve as the interim head coach.
Duke, with a record of 7 wins and 5 losses overall and 4 wins and 4 losses in the ACC, is set to participate in its second consecutive bowl game, a feat not achieved since 2017-2018.
The primary concern surrounding the Blue Devils is the uncertainty surrounding potential transfers. Will Grayson Loftis, the freshman quarterback, maintain his starting position? Is there a possibility that Henry Belin IV will join the competition? Or will his upper body injury hinder his performance? Additionally, what impact will Mike Elko’s departure have on Duke? These questions will begin to be answered in Duke’s last game of the season.
According to insider Brett McMurphy, previous reports indicated that the Blue Devils would face UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl. However, the organizers of the bowl changed the pairings in order to avoid a repeat of last year’s Military Bowl, where Duke and UCF had already played each other.
The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is known as the UNC bowl.
Rival: West Virginia Mountaineers
On December 27, the kickoff will be at 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN.
The address of the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
North Carolina football had a contrasting season with two distinct parts. The team began strong with a record of 6-0, but then faced difficulties, losing four of their last six games. This included consecutive defeats on the road against Clemson and NC State to end the season. The loss to NC State at Carter-Finley Stadium was particularly disappointing for Tar Heel supporters. However, winning their final bowl game can bring some solace to fans.
UNC’s biggest uncertainty is which players will take the field. Highly-touted quarterback Drake Maye, who is a top contender for the 2024 NFL Draft, has not yet confirmed if he will continue playing after the team’s loss to NC State in November. Maye comes from a family of athletes who have all represented UNC and has been a fan of the program since childhood, so this may play a role in his decision. However, participating in a non-playoff bowl game would not significantly impact his value as an NFL prospect.
Monitor Tar Heel running back Omarion Hampton closely. His impressive second year is making its mark in the UNC historical records. He is just four rushing touchdowns away from matching the program record of 19 set by Don McCauley and Javonte Williams. He also needs 21 more rushing yards to tie Elijah Hood for the second-highest total in a single UNC season and 278 to equal the all-time leading rusher, McCauley.