The Arizona State Sun Devils gambled in a big way that they were going to be able to keep both of their major coordinators when they brought Herm Edwards to the desert. Instead, both men left, leaving Edwards to build a coaching staff effectively from scratch. With a thinned-out staff that is probably dead in the water, the Sun Devils will play against the N.C. State Wolfpack in the Sun Bowl on December 29.
Arizona State Bowl History
Arizona State has played in the Sun Bowl five times in the past. The club registered a scoreless tie against Catholic in the 1939 version and followed that up with a 26-13 loss to Western Reserve in 1940.
In more modern times, the Sun Devils have been dominant when they’ve come to El Paso. They’ve picked up three wins in the Sun Bowl in as many visits since 1997, including a victory over Duke in 2014.
The Sun Devils have reached a bowl game in six of the last seven seasons, going 2-3 in their last five games.
N.C. State Bowl History
The Wolfpack are heading to a bowl game for the fourth season in a row under Dave Doeren. They won the 2016 Independence Bowl and the 2014 St. Petersburg Bowl, buttressing those wins with a defeat in the 2015 Belk Bowl.
Doeren is considered one of the up and coming coaches in America, and a win in this game would surely give him room to move up in the world if 2018 is successful. He has a 3-1 record in his career in bowl games, though his greatest accomplishment was bringing Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl in 2012.
Why Arizona State Will Win the Sun Bowl
Manny Wilkins is going to be the man Edwards builds his program around next year. He’s a super-talented quarterback who can both throw it and run it with the best in the Pac-12. The stats aren’t all there due to the fact that Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage have combined to run the ball over 28 times per game, but if the Sun Devils are strong in 2018, Wilkins could be a Heisman Trophy contender.
ASU is peaking at the right time as well. The team should have beaten UCLA in Los Angeles on November 11, and had it won that contest it would be on a four-game win streak going into the bowl season.
Why N.C. State Will Win the Sun Bowl
The Wolfpack found a way to beat both Louisville and Florida State this season, and Doeren should be given a huge tip of the cap for that.
Bradley Chubb wrecked games all by himself at the defensive end spot time and time again, and he’s going to be Wilkins’ greatest nightmare in this one.
But let’s not forget that Ryan Finley was a 3,000-yard passer, Nyheim Hines was a 1,000-yard rusher, Kelvin Harmon is on the verge of being a 1,000-yard receiver and Jaylen Samuels scored 15 total touchdowns. That’s a lot of offensive firepower on this team.
Sun Bowl Prediction
Even though the Wolfpack ran out of gas at the end of the regular season, they still don’t seem like they’re going to have any problems in this game. Their losses were to South Carolina (in Charlotte), at Notre Dame, home against Clemson and at Wake Forest, and three of those four games easily could have gone the other way.
With Doeren coming back to the Wolfpack and eschewing the Tennessee job, we have to imagine that motivation is going to be high in this game. With all of the talent NCSU is bringing on offense and the fact that Chubb can ruin this whole game plan for the Sun Devils, there’s no reason to believe that the Sun Bowl is going to be all that competitive.
Sun Bowl Pick: N.C. State 38, Arizona State 20
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