NC State rose in the College Football Playoff rankings to No. 19 from No. 22 after it downed North Carolina 39-20 on Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Wolfpack sits five spots behind Louisville, which beat NC State in early October. Those two teams’ rankings will be interesting to watch next weekend because if Florida State makes the College Football Playoff, the next-highest-ranked ACC team would be in line for the Orange Bowl bid.
This season is the fourth consecutive year that NC State has appeared in the CFP rankings, and it is the sixth time in the last seven seasons. The Pack is also ranked in the US LBM Coaches Poll (No. 20) and the Associated Press Top 25 (No. 21) this week.
NC State closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak to improve to 9-3. The Wolfpack beat Clemson, Miami, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and North Carolina. The wins over the Demon Deacons and Hokies were on the road, while the other three came inside Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Wolfpack were 4-3 heading into its bye week after a 24-3 loss at Duke, but since then the NC State team has played mostly complementary football between its offense and defense.
Graduate quarterback Brennan Armstrong has started the past three games, and he has been consistent for the Wolfpack. Armstrong has completed 70 percent of his passes since returning to the starting lineup, as he has thrown for 650 yards and 6 touchdowns, while rushing for 207 yards and a trio of scores.
Freshman wide receiver Kevin Concepcion has been an integral part of the Wolfpack’s offense this season with 64 receptions for 767 yards and 10 touchdown catches. He has also recorded 38 carries for 297 yards, and he threw a 17-yard touchdown strike at Virginia Tech.
Graduate linebacker Payton Wilson leads the Wolfpack — and the ACC — with 138 total tackles. He has also added 6 sacks with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 9 passes defended and 2 interceptions. Wilson is a finalist for the Butkus Award, which goes to the top collegiate linebacker, and both the Bednarik and Nagurski Awards, which go to the top defensive player in college football.
The Wolfpack has an opportunity to eclipse the 10-win mark for just the second time in program history should it win its bowl game. This season also marked the fourth in a row that coach Dave Doeren and the Wolfpack have won at least eight games, which is a program first.
NC State will find out its bowl selection on Sunday, Dec. 3, after the final CFP rankings are released following the conference championship games.