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November 29, 2011NC State is going bowling in 2011. That much is a fact. What's left to be resolved however is where.
The Pack is not in play for the BCS bid in the Orange Bowl in Miami and not under consideration for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, which has the first choice of ACC teams after the BCS bids.
Barring an unforeseen scenario where Virginia Tech loses to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game Saturday in Charlotte but somehow still gets a BCS at-large bid, NC State will not be making a return trip for the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, the third choice in the ACC bowl lineup.
The Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex., has the fourth selection, and they have made it clear that Georgia Tech is high on their pecking order. That means the Pack's invite could come next when the Belk Bowl in Charlotte (Dec. 27) gets to pick, or perhaps the following slot, the Music City Bowl in Nashville (Dec. 30).
Both the Belk and Music City Bowls have expressed interest in NC State. Belk Bowl president Will Webb told the Raleigh News and Observer Sunday that NC State is "very, very high" on his game's wish list.
"Are their fans disappointed, or are their fans excited? That's what we look at," Webb told the N&O. "State's comeback was incredible, which will have everyone fired up, which is good."
Scott Ramsey, president of the Music City Bowl, cited a similar reason for why their game would be confident in taking NC State.
"We've had great success with teams that have finish the season on an uptick like NC State did this year with two wins and an upset over Clemson," Ramsey noted. "It really tends to lend itself to fans and administrations and everybody else being more excited about Nashville as a destination."
All bowl decisions will come Sunday following the conclusion of the conference championship games Friday and Saturday. The wait forces bowl games to play a guessing game.
"I'm forecasting what everybody else could potentially do, and I would guess that between Orlando's selection, El Paso's selection and Charlotte's selection ahead of us, it's anybody's guess," Ramsey said. "I think we're feeling like that if we have done a good forecasting job that either NC State, Virginia, Georgia Tech will be in there in some combination along with Wake Forest for our choice."
Ramsey noted that NC State would be an attractive option for the Music City Bowl.
"From NC State's perspective, they are certainly somebody that we would be very excited about hosting," Ramsey stated. "We have not hosted NC State in the history of our game. This is our 14th year, sixth year with an ACC tie-in. If they are available for us, it would be a great opportunity for us, but we're just going to have to wait and see who all is going to be there at the time we select. It's really a guesswork at this point."
The Pack has played once in Charlotte for a bowl game, defeating South Florida 14-0 in what was then called the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2005. Now known as the Belk Bowl, the contest would pit the Pack against a Big East opponent. Most projections have State potentially facing West Virginia in a rematch of last year's Champs Sports Bowl or Louisville.
Both teams are in line for a potential Big East title. West Virginia will likely win the conference and play in the Orange Bowl if they defeat South Florida on the road Thursday and Cincinnati beats Connecticut at home Saturday. If Cincinnati loses, Louisville wins the Big East regardless of the outcome of West Virginia at South Florida.
If Cincinnati wins and West Virginia loses, the Bearcats are Orange Bowl bound, and the Belk Bowl could pick either Louisville or West Virginia. Webb told the News and Observer that the bowl would not be interested in a Cincinnati-NC State rematch from earlier this season.
If State was selected by the Music City Bowl, they would play an SEC team. The bowl has the seventh selection from the powerhouse conference, but with LSU and Alabama destined to play each other for the national title, that means the Music City Bowl will probably have to wait until seven SEC teams are gone. The likely choices would be Mississippi State or Vanderbilt.
Rivals.com is currently projecting NC State to play Louisville in the Belk Bowl and Virginia to face Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl.
N.C. State NEWS