From the Celebration Bowl on Dec. 16 to the College Football Playoff on Jan. 1, here’s a look at the 2017-18 college football bowl lineup that includes seven teams from the Carolinas.
Three of North Carolina’s four Atlantic Coast Conference schools — Duke, NC State and Wake Forest — will be playing in the postseason. Appalachian State and North Carolina A&T are also representing the Tar Heel State, with Clemson and South Carolina set to represent the Palmetto State.
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL — NC State (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5)
The Wolfpack will play in its fourth consecutive bowl game when it suits up against Arizona State in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 29 in El Paso, Texas.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be televised by CBS.
The Wolfpack (8-4) finished the season at No. 24 in the College Football Playoff rankings and will face a 7-5 Sun Devils squad. This teams have met twice before, with Arizona State winning in 1960 and NC State winning in 1974.
“We’re excited any time we get into the postseason and play a team from a league we don’t cross over with very often,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said during Sunday’s conference call.
NC State has not faced a PAC-12 team since losing to Arizona in the 1989 Copper Bowl.
The Wolfpack will be making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance, all under Doeren. NC State will have a chance to move to nine wins for only the 10th time in program history.
The Hyundai Sun Bowl will be NC State’s 31st postseason appearance (16-13-1) and the 13th bowl game since 2000.
BELK BOWL — Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
The Demon Deacons will make their second consecutive bowl appearance when they battle Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN. The Demon Deacons earned seven regular-season victories for the first time since 2008, defeating five teams that are bowl-eligible to tie a school record set in 2008.
“This team is very deserving of playing in a Tier I bowl and the Belk Bowl is the perfect fit for this team and our fans,” Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said in a statement released by the school.
“The opportunity to play an outstanding SEC opponent like Texas A&M in a great stadium like Bank of America Stadium in a great bowl like the Belk Bowl is what our team has worked hard to achieve all season.”
Wake Forest and Texas A&M have never met on the gridiron. The Belk Bowl will serve as Wake Forest’s third bowl game against an SEC opponent. The Deacons fell to LSU in the 1979 Tangerine Bowl and to Mississippi State in the 2011 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
The invitation marks Wake Forest’s 12th all-time bowl selection. The Demon Deacons are 7-4 all-time in bowl games and are coming off a 34-26 victory in 2016 over Temple in the Military Bowl.
QUICK LANE BOWL — Duke (6-6) vs. Northern Illinois (8-4)
Duke will play in its fifth bowl game in the past six seasons when it faces Northern Illinois in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 at Ford Field in Detroit.
Kickoff is set for 5:15 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN. The meeting on the gridiron between the Blue Devils (6-6) and the Huskies (8-4) will mark the first in series history.
The Blue Devils secured bowl eligibility with victories over Georgia Tech and Wake Forest in the final two weeks of the regular season, overcoming double digit deficits in both contests.
“We are honored and delighted to be chosen to participate in the Quick Lane Bowl,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said in a statement released by the school.
“I could not be happier for a group of young men who had their backs against the wall heading into the final two weeks of the season, fought through that adversity, and now will reap the benefits of their hard work and commitment to this program.”
Cutcliffe, who is 5-4 all-time as a head coach in bowl games, will participate in the 27th bowl game of his coaching career.
With an all-time record of 4-8, Duke will make its 13th bowl game appearance. In their last bowl appearance in 2015, the Blue Devils earned a 44-41 overtime victory over Indiana in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Here’s a look at other bowl games involving teams from the Carolinas.
CELEBRATION BOWL — North Carolina A&T (11-0) vs. Grambling (11-1)
The Aggies and Tigers will start postseason play on Dec. 16 at the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta.
Coming off an unbeaten regular season that included a MEAC title, North Carolina A&T is looking for its second win in the Celebration Bowl. The Aggies won the bowl game in 2015.
Former Lumberton standout Jermaine Williams plays on the defensive line for North Carolina A&T. The redshirt sophomore has 25 tackles, including six tackles for loss, and four sacks this season. Red Springs’ Markeiss Blue is also on the team. The redshirt junior linebacker has six tackles this season.
DOLLAR GENERAL BOWL —Appalachian State (8-4) vs. Toledo (11-2)
Appalachian State will face Toledo on Dec. 23 at the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
This is the Mountaineers’ third straight bowl appearance since transitioning from the FCS to FBS level, becoming the second program to accomplish that feat.
Appalachian State, which is coming off its second straight Sun Belt Championship, will face the Rockets in a bowl game for the second consecutive season.
The Mountaineers earned a 31-28 victory over Toledo last season in the Camellia Bowl.
OUTBACK BOWL — South Carolina (8-4) vs. Michigan (8-4)
The Gamecocks will face the Wolverines at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. to open 2018 on Jan. 1.
This will mark the fourth meeting between the two programs and the second between the two squads in the Outback Bowl. The Gamecocks were 33-28 winners in 2013.
South Carolina will be making its fifth trip to the Outback Bowl. The Gamecocks are 3-1 in previous appearances and will be appearing in their 22nd bowl game in school history.
South Carolina is 8-13 in bowl games, but has won four of its last five bowl appearances.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF at the Allstate Sugar Bowl — No. 1 Clemson (12-1) vs. No. 4 Alabama (11-1)
After a blowout win over Miami in the ACC Championship, defending national champion Clemson has now won three straight ACC titles and clinched the No. 1 spot in the playoff rankings for the second time in three years.
It’s the third straight season that the Crimson Tide and Tigers will meet in the playoffs, though this time in the semifinals on Jan. 1 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Alabama beat Clemson in a classic national championship game in Glendale, Arizona, two seasons ago. The teams played another last-second thriller last season, and the Tigers took the title in Tampa.
This will be Clemson’s second appearance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl — the first since the 1958 season. The Tigers lost to top-ranked LSU in that contest.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.