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Though Arizona State finished second in the Pac-12 South in 2017, it wasn’t good enough to save Todd Graham’s job. The sixth-year head coach of the Sun Devils was informed he was done in Tempe after a 42-30 win over rival Arizona in the Thanksgiving weekend Territorial Cup game. But he was allowed to stay on to coach the Sun Devils one last time.
They prepare for a showdown at the Sun Bowl in El Paso against NC State. The Wolfpack emerged as the surprise runner-up behind ACC champion Clemson. NC State has never played in the Sun Bowl before, and they head to west Texas with a chance to win nine games for the first time since 2010.
The NC State Wolfpack and Arizona State Sun Devils are similar in many ways, but there’s also one striking difference between this season’s Sun Bowl participants.
Both teams have the potential to light up the scoreboard behind talented quarterbacks Ryan Finley and Manny Wilkins, and both teams could also flex plenty of defensive muscle.
However, the one glaring difference is NC State has a somewhat stable coaching situation, and Arizona State’s has turned into the laughing stock of college football alongside Tennessee.
Will Dave Doeren’s team complete its breakout season with NC State’s second consecutive bowl victory? Or will Todd Graham get the last laugh on his way out the door from Arizona State? Either way, it will be a fun Friday showdown for fans with one eye toward the long New Year’s weekend.
A few schools looked at Dave Doeren, but he ultimately decided to stay at NC State for another season. Todd Graham, who will coach Arizona State in the Sun Bowl, was fired and replaced by Herman Edwards. In the weeks after Edwards’ hiring, the Sun Devils lost their offensive and defensive coordinators, who were originally set to stay under the new regime.