N.C. State, Duke and North Carolina all found a home in the ACC’s bowl order.
On that front, all’s well that ends well.
Duke will face Arizona State in the Sun Bowl, the Tar Heels will play Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl and N.C. State will take on Central Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
East Carolina, which fell out of the mix for a major bowl with an 8-4 finish, might have the best draw of all in-state teams with a matchup with Florida in the Birmingham Bowl.
The subject of Notre Dame, and its ability to jump into the ACC line and knock a conference member down the order, will have to be tackled another day.
N.C. State coach Dave Doeren took a diplomatic approach to the Fighting Irish, who at 7-5 will face Louisiana State in the Music City Bowl.
“It’s part of the agreement that the ACC made,” Doeren said Sunday. “They didn’t ask my opinion when they made it and I’m not going to give you one now.”
Notre Dame’s an ACC member in all sports but football. Under its deal with the ACC, the Fighting Irish play an average of five ACC opponents per season and have access to the ACC’s bowls, and a share of the league’s bowl money after the College Football Playoff payouts.
N.C. State (7-5) ended up on the wrong end of the Notre Dame shift. The Wolfpack also lost ground when the ACC did not get a spot in the Citrus Bowl.
When the College Football Playoff rankings came out Tuesday, the Big Ten and Michigan State was ticketed for a spot in the Orange Bowl, which triggered a clause in the ACC’s agreement with the Citrus in Orlando, Fla.
On Sunday in the final CFP rankings, Mississippi State jumped back over Michigan State, without either playing this weekend, giving the Orange spot to the SEC and leaving the Big Ten in the Citrus.
As it turned out, the ACC had to scramble to find a home for Pittsburgh (6-6), which ended up in the Armed Forces Bowl.
A year after a 3-9 finish, Doeren’s primary concern was getting to any bowl and then finishing with eight wins, following up impressive wins against in-state foes UNC and Wake Forest.
“A year ago, we were very disappointed,” Doeren said. “One year later, to be siting at seven wins, winning our last three of four, including both over out in-state opponents, and have a chance to win eight games.
“We've made great improvements.”
The St. Petersburg Bowl is set for Dec. 26 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Central Florida (9-3) is coming off of a 32-30 win at East Carolina on Thursday night, a game the Knights won on a last-second Hail Mary.
The Tar Heels (6-6) will get a chance to finish the season with a winning record and a second straight bowl win under third-year coach Larry Fedora.
The Quick Lane Bowl is a new game, played at Detroit’s Ford Field on Dec. 26 and operated by the NFL’s Detroit Lions. The Scarlett Knights went 7-5 in their first season in the Big Ten.
For UNC, it’s a chance to put the 35-7 home loss to N.C. State on Nov. 29 behind them.
“We will be working hard over the next few weeks to take advantage of this opportunity to finish the season strong,” Fedora said in a statement released by the team.
For the first time in school history, Duke will be making a third straight bowl appearance. The Blue Devils have lost the past two – 52-48 to Texas A&M in the Peach Bowl last season and 48-34 to Cincinnati in the 2012 Belk Bowl – under coach David Cutcliffe.
Arizona State (9-3) finished the regular season ranked No. 15 by the CFP committee.
In the bowls
Bowl matchups for ACC and East Carolina:
|Dec. 26||Quick Lane||Detroit||UNC (6-6)||Rutgers (7-5)||4:30 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Dec. 26||St. Petersburg||St. Petersburg, Fla.||N.C. State (7-5)||Central Florida (9-3)||8 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Dec. 27||Military||Annapolis, Md.||Virginia Tech (6-6)||Cincinnati (9-3)||1 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Dec. 27||Sun||El Paso, Texas||Duke (9-3)||Arizona State (9-3)||2 p.m. (CBS)|
|Dec. 27||Independence||Shreveport, La.||Miami (6-6)||South Carolina (6-6)||3:30 p.m. (ABC)|
|Dec. 27||Pinstripe||New York||Boston College (7-5)||Penn State (6-6)||4:30 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Dec. 29||Russell Athletic||Orlando, Fla.||Clemson (9-3)||Oklahoma (8-4)||5:30 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Dec. 30||Belk||Charlotte||Louisville (9-3)||Georgia (9-3)||6:30 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Dec. 31||Orange||Miami||Georgia Tech (10-3)||Miss. State (10-2)||8 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Jan. 1||Rose||Pasadena, Calif.||Florida State (13-0)||Oregon (12-1)||5 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Jan. 2||Armed Forces||Fort Worth, Texas||Pittsburgh (6-6)||Houston (7-5)||Noon (ESPN)|
|Jan. 3||Birmingham||Birmingham, Ala.||East Carolina (8-4)||Florida (6-5)||1 p.m. (ESPN)|