Texas A&M vs. NC State: 5 things to know about the Aggies' Gator Bowl opponent
Texas A&M will take on ACC opponent N.C. State in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. The game will be played at 7:30 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve night. The teams will meet at TIAA Field, home of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars and will be nationally televised by ESPN.
Here are 5 things to know about the Wolfpack, who are seeking their first 10-win season since going 11-3 in 2002, a year capped by a Gator Bowl victory over Notre Dame.
1. How the Wolfpack got here
At 9-3 for the season, the Wolfpack recorded back-to-back 9-win seasons for the first time since 1991-92 and just the third time in school history. It’s the sixth time in program history for a 9-win season.
It’s the fifth consecutive bowl appearance and seventh with head coach Dave Doeren in his eight years at the helm. That’s the second-longest bowl streak in school history.
The Wolfpack opened the season 5-0, including a 28-23 win at Boston College, before being derailed by Clemson in a 41-7 setback. But they bounced back with three consecutive wins to close the regular season.
2. Their best offensive player is QB Ryan Finley
The Wolfpack quarterback threw for an ACC-best 3,789 yards and had 24 TD passes in an explosive offense that featured not only a 3,000-yard passer but also two 1,000-yard receivers in Jakobi Meyers and Kelvin Harmon, in addition to a 1,000-yard rusher in Reggie Gallaspy II. It’s a feat that only Florida State (2012) has equaled in ACC history.
Finley, a 6-4, 212-pound senior, is viewed as a potential first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
3. Their best defensive player is LB Germaine Pratt
The senior linebacker is second in the ACC in tackles (104) just one behind North Carolina’s Cole Holcomb. Pratt is also among the conference’s top tackler for loss, ranking ninth in the ACC with 6.0 sacks.
Five times this season, Pratt has recorded double-digit tackles, including a career-high 16 in a 51-41 loss at Syracuse. Fourteen of those were solo tackles.
4. Their history with the SEC
The Wolfpack will face Texas A&M for the first time. They are familiar with the SEC, but haven’t had a whole lot of success, posting an all-time record of 7-29-2, including a 3-4 mark in bowl games.
The last time the Wolfpack played the SEC in a bowl game was the 2016 Independence Bowl, a 41-17 victory over Vanderbilt. It’s the only victory in the past seven meetings with the SEC.
Only once before the Wolfpack has faced an opponent from the SEC in the Gator Bowl. In 1992, they lost to Florida, 27-10.
5. Worth noting
This will be the Wolfpack’s 32nd bowl game. They are 17-13-1 all-time in the postseason and are making their fourth trip to the Gator Bowl. They played in the 1947 Gator Bowl and returned in both 1992 and 2002.