N.C. State’s odds at landing in a major New Year’s bowl game increased on Tuesday.
The Wolfpack jumped up seven spots in the College Football Playoff rankings after a resounding win over Florida State. It also helped that six teams ranked ahead of the Wolfpack (6-2) lost this past weekend.
The ACC’s Atlantic Division accounted for four of the top 17 teams in the rankings, with 9-0 Clemson second, Syracuse No. 13 and Boston College No. 17.
If N.C. State can win out (its final four games are against Wake Forest, Louisville, UNC and ECU) and continue to move up, it would be in position to qualify for the Peach (in Atlanta) or the Fiesta (in Glendale, Ariz.) bowl.
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It will need some help (such as Syracuse losing) but it’s more likely after Tuesday than at any other point in N.C. State’s history. N.C. State has never played in a major bowl.
Those games are picked strictly by the CFP rankings. At No. 21, that didn’t look like a great possibility for the Wolfpack. At No. 14, it probably still needs to move up into the top 12 to feel better about its chances.
There are still a few teams in the way, notably Kentucky (No. 11) and either Oklahoma (No. 6) or West Virginia (No. 9). There are four at-large spots in the Fiesta and Peach bowls. One will go to the highest-rated team from the “Group of 5” conferences. Central Florida, from the American Athletic, is ranked No. 12.
The other three spots will go to the next highest-rated teams after the tie-ins to the Rose and Sugar are sorted. Right now, the four teams in the Peach and Fiesta would be LSU (No. 7), West Virginia (No. 9), Kentucky (No. 11) and UCF.
Working in N.C. State’s favor is West Virginia and Oklahoma are on track to meet twice (in consecutive weeks, the second time in the Big 12 championship game). If the teams split, N.C. State is unlikely to jump them. If one of the Big 12 teams loses twice, the Wolfpack might jump that team in the final poll.