NC State’s Doeren: ‘I love these guys and I am proud of them’
N.C. State will almost certainly play in a bowl game in Florida.
The question, with Saturday’s home game with East Carolina still left for the Wolfpack (8-3), is which one?
The Camping World Bowl in Orlando (Dec. 28) and the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville (Dec. 31) are the two likely landing spots for N.C. State.
The Big 12 will ultimately determine N.C. State’s bowl fate.
Since Oklahoma moved up to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings — and No. 4 Georgia has to play No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game — there’s a good chance if the Sooners beat Texas in the Big 12 title game, they will make the CFP.
If Oklahoma is in the playoffs, there is a guaranteed spot in the Sugar Bowl for the Big 12 runner-up. That leaves the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio to choose from West Virginia (8-3) or Iowa State (7-4).
That’s where the ACC side of the equation factors. If No. 2 Clemson (12-0) beats unranked Pittsburgh (7-5) in the ACC title game on Saturday in Charlotte, the Tigers will be in the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
The Camping World gets the first choice after the CFP process. If West Virginia is the choice from the Big 12 side for the Camping World, it will take Syracuse (9-3) to renew a Big East rivalry with with the Mountaineers.
If Iowa State winds up being the choice from the Big 12, which is more likely at this point, then N.C. State would be the ACC choice.
Syracuse is No. 20 in the CFP rankings (N.C. State is unranked), beat N.C. State during the season (51-41 on Oct. 27) and finished ahead of the Wolfpack in the ACC standings but those are not factors for Camping World, which believes it would sell more tickets to Wolfpack fans with Iowa State as the opponent.
There’s another scenario (there always is with the CFP and Ohio State) where Oklahoma could beat Texas and win the Big 12 title but still get jumped by the Buckeyes (No. 6) in the final CFP rankings.
If that’s the case, Oklahoma would drop to the Sugar, Texas to the Alamo and the Camping World would take West Virginia.
If the Camping World does wind up with Syracuse, N.C. State would land in the Gator Bowl on Dec. 31 against either Texas A&M (8-4) or South Carolina (6-5).
A loss to ECU on Saturday (N.C. State is a 23-point favorite and the 3-8 Pirates might be without injured quarterback Holton Ahlers) would drop N.C. State into the second tier of ACC games.
If Syracuse gets bypassed by the Camping World, it will still be in one of the ACC’s Tier I bowl games, likely either the Pinstripe in New York (Dec. 27) or the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas (Dec. 31).