After winning five games in a row to close out the college football regular season, N.C. State (9-3, 6-2 ACC) is headed to the Pop-Tarts Bowl and faces Kansas State (8-4, 6-3 Big 12) with a chance at an elusive 10-win season.
The game is set for 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 28 in Orlando, Florida.
The Wolfpack finished No. 18 in Sunday’s final College Football Playoff rankings, jumping one spot, behind No. 15 Louisville and No. 16 Notre Dame, and has finished in the CFP Top 25 four years in a row.
AP voters ranked N.C. State at No. 19 in their final regular-season poll.
Predictions placed N.C. State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl, but the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s pick of Alabama (12-1, 8-0 SEC) over Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC) for the final playoff spot upended plans for the ACC’s bowl destinations.
The Pop-Tarts Bowl typically takes the top-ranked ACC team that does not make the Orange Bowl. With the Seminoles making the Orange Bowl instead of the playoff, Louisville or Notre Dame was expected to earn the spot. N.C. State, ranked behind Louisville and losing the head-to-head was expected to make the Gator Bowl.
Instead, N.C. State still ended up in the Pop-Tarts Bowl, while Louisville plays Southern Cal in the Holiday Bowl.
N.C. State ran off five straight wins to close out its ACC schedule, including upsets over Clemson, Miami and North Carolina at home. It picked up road wins against Wake Forest, winning at Winston-Salem for first time since 2015, and Virginia Tech, where the Pack won for the first time since 2004.
Last week, graduate linebacker Payton Wilson earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year and All-ACC first team honors.
Freshman wide receiver Kevin “KC” Conception was named ACC Rookie of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year and was an All-League second team selection.
Kansas State won three of its last five games. One of its losses, however, was a 33-30 overtime matchup against Texas, which earned a spot in the playoff.