ASU Football: Sun Devils face NC State in Sun Bowl in Todd Graham’s final game

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25: Wide receiver Kyle Williams
TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25: Wide receiver Kyle Williams /

In Todd Graham’s final game as ASU football head coach, the Sun Devils will look to finish an eight-win season in the Sun Bowl versus No. 24 NC State.

After a month away from the gridiron filled with a coaching staff upheaval, ASU football will take the field Friday afternoon in El Paso, Texas, for the Hyundai Sun Bowl against No. 24 NC State.

The Sun Devils closed out the regular season with two straight wins against Oregon State and Arizona to reclaim the Territorial Cup.

With Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate not playing for the majority of the second half with an injury, Arizona State erased a 10-point halftime deficit, outscoring Arizona 28-6 in the second half to end the regular season with a record of 7-5.

Running back Demario Richard had his best game of the season rushing for 165 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Manny Wilkins threw three touchdowns in the victory.

With a month to prepare, Todd Graham’s Sun Devils will be ready to face the 24th-ranked NC State Wolfpack, who are coming an 8-4 season.

North Carolina State was ranked as high as No. 14 in the AP Poll this season, but finished the season losing three of their last five games.

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The Wolfpack also are coming off the high of winning their rivalry game defeating North Carolina 33-21.

NC State is led by potent passing attack led by Phoenix-native and Paradise Valley High School product Ryan Finley, who threw for 3,200 yards,16 touchdowns and six interceptions this season.

A beneficiary of Finley’s success is the Wolfpack’s deep pool of pass catchers with wide receiver Kelvin Harmon leading the team with 993 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

The two players to watch in this game is Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry and North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb.

Harry finished as the leading receiver in the Pac-12 with 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns while ranking second in the conference with 73 receptions.

Someone looking to disrupt Arizona State’s offense is Chubb, who has a team-high 10 sacks and 26 tackles for loss and will likely be a top-10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Arizona State’s offensive line will need to find a way to contain Chubb as the Sun Devils have allowed the most sacks in the Pac-12 this season.

It will also be important for Wilkins to go through his reads quickly to either release the ball or to take off and run.

For the Sun Devils defensively, the Wolfpack throw the ball much more than they run so it’s imperative for the secondary to prevent the big plays and avoid getting beaten over the top.

The Sun Devils should have some success stopping NC State’s ground game lead by Nyheim Hines, Reggie Gallaspy II and Jaylen Samuels with the strength of ASU’s front seven.

This is an even game on paper, with special teams potentially playing a huge role in the game.

Wolfpack have utilized two kickers this season in Carson Wise and Kyle Bambard, who have combined to convert 9-of-19 field goal attempts this season.

Arizona State will have more faith in their kicker, Brandon Ruiz, who’s converted 18-of-25 field goals.

The game will come down to who wins the battle in the trenches as Arizona State’s offensive line will look to contain Chubb and open running lanes for Richard, Kalen Ballage and Eno Benjamin.

NC State will look to stop Arizona State’s high-pressure defense led by linebackers Christian Sam and D.J. Calhoun and defensive end JoJo Wicker.

Broadcast Information:

Kickoff: 1 p.m. MT


Stream: and CBS Sports app

Broadcast Team: Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce

Next: ASU Football: Who has the advantage in the Sun Bowl?

This will be Arizona State’s first appearance on CBS since the 2014 Sun Bowl in which the Sun Devils defeated Duke 36-31.