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Six storylines for the 84th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl

Adrian Broaddus
adrian broaddus / The Prospector The Sun Bowl association representatives announced NC State and Arizona State as the two teams who will play in the 2017 Sun Bowl.

The teams are set for the 84th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl as the Arizona State Sun Devils will take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack at 1 p.m. MT,  Friday, Dec. 29, at the Sun Bowl.

At first glance, these two teams might not be the most eye-grabbing teams, but with a closer look, these two have the potential to duke it out for a classic matchup.

Here are some storylines to keep an eye out for:

Arizona State

(7-5, 2nd in Pac-12 South)

Todd Graham’s last game with the Sun Devils

Toward the end of their sub-par season, the Arizona State athletic department decided to fire six-year head coach Todd Graham. Since his hiring in 2012, Graham has posted a 46-31 overall record with four bowl appearances and two bowl wins—2012 Fight Hunger Bowl, 62-28 over Navy, and 2014 Sun Bowl, 36-31 over Duke.

Oddly enough, instead of the department relieving Graham of his duties, they asked him to continue coaching until the end of the season.

Graham and his players are determined to have one last ride in this bowl game, and if they go out and beat a ranked team like NC State, it would be the exact way he would like to go out.

“If I was ASU, I’d name this (new football) facility after Todd Graham,” senior running back Demario Richard told AZ Central. “I’ve seen him turn boys into men, turn people who didn’t believe in God to believing in God. He’s a great man. He’s just one phone call away for me, and I know if I ever want to get into coaching I know who to call.”

On Monday, Arizona State’s athletic department hired Herm Edwards, a current ESPN football analyst and previous head coach for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. 

Demario Richard is the man to stop

After ASU’s 42-30 win over state rivals Arizona, Richard became the fifth running back in school history to surpass the 3,000-yard career rushing mark with his 165 yards against the Wildcats.

He is now the school’s fifth all-time leading rusher and needs just 21 yards to surpass Wilford White’s (1947-50) 3,173 career yards to be the program’s fourth-best rusher.

In the last four games, Richard has had 100-yard rushing games. It will be up to the Wolfpack’s defense to stop him and shut down Arizona State’s run game.

Been there, done that

With the announcement of ASU coming to the Sun Bowl, this will mark the sixth time that the Sun Devils have come to El Paso for the bowl game.

The Sun Devils are 3-1-1 all-time at the Sun Bowl, more recently a back-and-forth thrilling 36-31 victory over Duke in 2014. In 2004, the Sun Devils beat out Purdue 27-23, with the likes of quarterback Kyle Orton leading the way for the Sun Devils. In 1997, the Sun Devils beat out Iowa 17-7, and their lone loss in the Sun Bowl came in 1941, when they lost to Case Western Reserve 26-13. The only tie of the Sun Bowl and the bowl’s lowest scoring game came from a 0-0 tie when ASU went against Catholic University in 1940.

“This is a great opportunity for us to compete against a top-notch program and close out the 2017 season right,” coach Graham said in a press release. “We look forward to representing our university in El Paso with character, class and dignity.”

No. 24 NC State (8-4, 2nd in ACC Coastal Division)

A season of what-ifs

Taking a sound 33-21 win over North Carolina to wrap up their fall 2017 season ended the Wolfpack’s season with an 8-4 record, but it was not necessarily how they wanted the year to wrap up.

Although it was their first second-place finish during head coach Dave Doeren’s time, they felt like they deserved more.

“I’m not ecstatic,” senior defensive end Bradley Chubb told the News & Observer after their final win. “Eight and four wasn’t what we wanted, but I know these guys next year are going to finish all these close games and do what we thought we would do this year.”

The Wolfpack hunted for a 10-win season for only the second time in school history, but losses to the likes of Clemson, Wake Forest and South Carolina stumped any hopes of that.

Instead of a New Year’s bowl, NC State will have to settle for the Sun Bowl and hope to cap off  their season with a statement win.

Doeren wants a dynasty

Doeren, the six-year head coach for NC State, has had a well-spent time with the program. He’s 33-30 overall at NC State, including two bowl wins in 2014 against UCF in the St. Petersburg Bowl and in 2016 against Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl.

At 41, he became the youngest ACC coach in 2012. His first year’s 3-9 record was Doeren’s lone losing season with the Wolfpack. After that, NC State went 8-5 in 2013, followed by 22 wins over the next three years.

Recently, Doeren received a job offer from Tennessee, who is trying to rebuild its program in the SEC. However, Doeren declined the offer to stay true to his current program.

Bradley Chubb — start or sit out?

Standout defensive end Chubb, a likely top-10 pick in the NFL draft, has not decided whether or not to play in the Sun Bowl, per multiple local reports.

Like Stanford’s former standout running back Christian McCaffrey did last year for the Sun Bowl, Chubb might sit out of the bowl game to prepare for the 2018 NFL draft.

Chubb is also coming off a dislocated finger against Boston College, so he may use the injury as a factor in his decision-making.

He was named the 2017 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, with 25 tackles for losses this season (second in FBS), 73 tackles (fourth among defensive lineman) and 10 sacks (eighth in FBS). He is also the school’s career leader in sacks and tackles for loss, beating out NC State legend Mario Williams.

Follow Adrian Broaddus on Twitter @adrian_broaddus.

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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  • Z

    ZachDec 5, 2017 at 12:37 PM

    NC State finished 2nd in the ATLANTIC Division of the ACC, not the Coastal. Dave Doeren is in his FIFTH year at NC State, his first season was the 2013 Season. These are all easy things to look up and confirm, please show some integrity when you are discussing a team that you are hosting

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Six storylines for the 84th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl