North Carolina’s five bowl eligible teams now know where they’ll be playing this holiday season.
College football set its postseason on Sunday, and teams from the state will be playing coast-to-coast this December.
Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky, RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl; FAU Stadium; Boca Raton, Florida; 11 a.m., Dec. 18, ESPN
Appalachian State will get North Carolina’s bowl season started with the first game of the five. The Mountaineers will travel to South Florida to face Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 18.
It’s the seventh straight year that App has played in a bowl game and the first time the Mountaineers have played a bowl in Florida. It’s App State’s second trip to the Sunshine State this season. App lost at Miami in the second week of the season. Prior to that, App hadn’t played in Florida since losing to the Gators in the Swamp in 2010.
App enters the game at 10-3 on the year after losing to Louisiana in the Sun Belt championship game. Western Kentucky also lost in its conference championship game, losing to UTSA in Conference USA. The Hilltoppers are 8-5 on the year, including a home win over Charlotte in late October.
Western is headed to its third straight bowl. It last played in the Boca Bowl in 2016, beating Memphis 51-31.
App State and Western Kentucky have met five times in their histories, most recently in 2000. App has won four of the five matchups, including the last three — in 1984, 1985 and 2000.
East Carolina vs. Boston College, Military Bowl, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium; Annapolis, Maryland; 2:30 p.m., Dec. 27, ESPN
The East Carolina Pirates will look to snap a two-game losing streak against the ACC when they face the Boston College Eagles in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27.
East Carolina will snap a six-year bowl drought, heading to the postseason for the first time since the 2014 season. They’ll be looking to post their first bowl win since a year earlier, in the Beef O’Brady’s in St. Petersburg over Ohio.
This is ECU’s second-ever trip to the Military Bowl. The Pirates lost to Maryland 51-20 following the 2010 season.
East Carolina finished the regular season 7-5, winning four of its last five games. Boston College is 6-6 and riding a two-game losing streak. This is the Eagles’ first bowl since the 2019 season. Boston College has lost three straight to teams from the state. This will be the first meeting between ECU and BC.
NC State vs. UCLA, San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, PetCo Park; San Diego, California; 8 p.m., Dec. 28, Fox
The NC State Wolfpack will travel the farthest this postseason, heading to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl against UCLA. It’s State’s second straight bowl game and the first trip to California for the Pack since a 7-0 loss at UCLA on Oct. 29, 1960.
“A lot of my guys have never been that far west,” said coach Dave Doeren, who pointed out that he was born in San Diego.
The game will be played in the home of the MLB San Diego Padres.
“I’ve never played in a professional baseball stadium,” said Doeren.
“Part of bowl games is the life experience,” he continued. “Getting a chance to go out to a city most of our guys haven’t seen, on the Pacific Ocean, get to see the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, tour a navy ship.”
Doeren is hopeful the game will help expose new fans to NC State, although San Diego should be familiar with the team.
“They’ve seen Phillip Rivers,” he said. “So they should have a little bit of an idea what Wolfpack football is all about.”
State is 9-3 and winners of two straight. UCLA is 8-4 and winners of three straight. The Bruins are headed to a bowl for the first time since 2017 and their first Holiday Bowl since 2012.
North Carolina vs. South Carolina, Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Bank of America Stadium; Charlotte; 11:30 a.m., Dec. 30, ESPN
North Carolina will play in familiar surroundings against a familiar face when the Tar Heels play South Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 30.
The Tar Heels beat South Carolina in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium to open the 2018 season, Mack Brown’s first game back in Chapel Hill. Carolina also lost to the Gamecocks to open the 2015 season in Charlotte.
This is UNC’s fifth visit to this bowl game, which has now gone by four different names when hosting the Tar Heels. UNC lost to Boston College in 2004 in the Continental Tire Bowl, lost to West Virginia in 2008 and Pitt in 2009 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and beat Cincinnati in 2013 in the Belk Bowl.
“It’s perfect for a large portion of our roster because their family and friends will easily be able to attend,” said Brown.
UNC enters the game at 6-6 on the year and is headed to its third straight bowl. South Carolina is also 6-6. It’s the first bowl trip for the Gamecocks since they lost to Virginia in Charlotte in the then-Belk Bowl in 2018.
Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M, TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, TIAA Bank Field; Jacksonville, Florida; 11 a.m., Dec. 31, ESPN
After winning the ACC Atlantic Division and losing in the conference championship game, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons will head to the Gator Bowl to face Texas A&M on Dec. 31.
The Deacs played the Aggies in the Belk Bowl in the 2017 season, winning a wild 55-52 contest. That was part of Wake’s current bowl streak, which reaches six games this year, although the Deacs have lost the last two. It’s Wake’s first Florida bowl game since winning the ACC and playing in the Orange Bowl following the 2006 season. Wake won the ACC Championship Game that year in their most recent trip to Jacksonville. The Deacs won the first ever Gator Bowl, following the 1945 season.
Wake is 10-3 on the year. Texas A&M is 8-4. This is A&M’s 13th straight bowl appearance. The Aggies have won three straight bowls since the loss to Wake in Charlotte, including wins over NC State and UNC.
“The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl is a perfect fit for this team and our fans,” said Wake coach Dave Clawson. “That week and game will cap a memorable season for our program.”