EL PASO, Texas – Its productivity on both sides of the ball allowed NC State to become one of the most daunting opponents in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Now, the 24th-ranked Wolfpack will look to conclude their successful 2017 campaign by controlling the tempo on defense and offense in the 84th Hyundai Sun Bowl, which is scheduled for a 1 p.m. (MT) kick-off on Dec. 29 at Sun Bowl Stadium.
“When we lost the season opener, our season could have gone two ways. Our team chose to use it as motivation to work harder and get better,” said NC State Head Coach Dave Doeren.
NC State finished the regular season 8-4 overall and 6-2 in ACC play. The Wolfpack will be making their fourth consecutive bowl appearance and their 31st in program history. It will also be NC State’s first appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
The Wolfpack defense is led by senior defensive end Bradley Chubb, who was named ACC defensive player of the year after tallying 73 total tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2017. Chubb also earned the Bronco Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s top defensive player and the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end.
“Bradley has worked tirelessly to become the best defensive player in college football,” Doeren said. “His development from a 235 LB to a 275 DE has been incredible and is a tribute to his work ethic and our developmental program at NC State.”
The linebacker corps is led by senior Jerod Fernandez, who finished the regular season with a team-high 93 total tackles.
Chubb, Fernandez and a prolific secondary combined to help the NC State defense allow just 24.8 points per game and 377.2 yards per game.
The NC State offense is propelled by of one the nation’s most productive offensive lines, which helped first team All-ACC running back Nyheim Hines rush for a team-high 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns. The Wolfpack offensive line, nicknamed the “Band of Brothers”, is led by Will Richardson, Tony Adams and Garrett Bradbury, who all earned All-ACC honors.
The “Band of Brothers” allowed an ACC-low 12 sacks and helped redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Finley pass for 3,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. Finley’s favorite target is 6-foot-3 sophomore wide receiver Kelvin Harmon, who amassed 993 receiving yards, 65 receptions and four touchdowns. Harmon earned second team All-ACC honors. Another target Finley prefers is first-team All-ACC selection, Jaylen Samuels who had 69 receptions and totaled 551 yards receiving while adding 384 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
On the offensive side, the Wolfpack finished the regular season as the fourth best in the ACC, scoring 30.6 points per game and tallying 449.3 yards per game.
Apart from the difficult task of an ACC schedule, the Wolfpack went 2-2 in non-conference play, including a tightly contested loss to Notre Dame, which was ranked ninth in the College Football Playoff rankings at the time. During conference play, NC State hosted Clemson, which is currently No. 1 in the CFP rankings, and the Wolfpack were a possession away from upending the defending national champions.
NC State will go into the Hyundai Sun Bowl with momentum after a dominant 33-21 performance against rival North Carolina in the final week of the regular season.
Last week, NC State agreed to a contract extension with current head coach Dave Doeren. The seventh-year head coach has been to six bowl games.
Tickets for the 84th Hyundai Sun Bowl can be purchased by calling 915-533-4416.
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