NC State outbombed Arizona State 52-31 in a wild Sun Bowl. Here are five things that matter.
2017 Sun Bowl: NC State 52, Arizona State 31
5. The Pac-12’s nightmare continues
Between Oregon, Stanford, Arizona, UCLA, USC and Washington State, the Pac-12 has had a horrific bowl season with only Utah’s win over West Virginia to provide a ray of light.
Arizona State wasn’t supposed to win this.
It was going through the dysfunctional coaching change – with ex-head man Todd Graham still on board coaching his former team – and NC State came out hot.
And now, the ACC has a few decent bowl wins, the Pac-12 has next to nothing, and Arizona State is starting over. However, it has …
4. Manny Wilkins to N’Keal Harry
New head man Herm Edwards has an interesting pitch-catch combo to work with this offseason.
If Manny Wilkins is the quarterback going forward – he did throw three picks – he at least has the upside and the experience to be a promising passer to build around.
He tried to get ASU back into the game with 352 yards and three scores, and he ran for 13 yards and a score. Kyle Williams is a good young receiver who caught seven passes for 85 yards and a score, and N’Keal Harry showed why he’s so special, making nine grabs for 142 yards and a touchdown.
The pieces of the passing game are strong. It all needed to work a whole lot earlier.
3. The missing stars
NC State star DE Bradley Chubb chose to sit out the game to preserve his NFL Draft stock – he didn’t want to get hurt. That didn’t seem to matter for a Wolfpack defense that dominated when it had to, but Arizona State desperately needed LB Christian Sam.
The Sun Devil defensive front and linebackers couldn’t to anything at the point of attack, came up with just five tackles for loss, and couldn’t make enough big things happen early on to stall the momentum.
2. Nyheim Hines
Ryan Finley was razor-sharp – completing 24-of-29 passes for 318 yards and a score – but it was Nyheim Hines who took over the game with 72 yards and three scores, and with one catch for 28 yards.
Reggie Gallaspy added 70 yards and two scores, do-it-all fullback Jaylen Samuels got into the act with a rushing touchdown late, and the Pack took over the game early and then put it away late after the Sun Devils tried to make a run.
The NC State running backs were great, the ASU runners couldn’t get going after the team got down fast.
1. NC State’s good season
It was supposed to be a magical year.
The experience was in place, and the playmakers were there on both sides of the ball to come up with something big, but it was just okay.
Losing three games in a four game stretch late in the season soured the fun, and losing to South Carolina to kick things off didn’t help. Even so, a nine-win campaign with a bowl win wasn’t bad.
But can head coach Dave Doeren build on this recent run of success and do more? His team put up 52 points in a bowl game – that makes for a much, much easier offseason.