This year’s NC State football team feels miles away from the 2002 team that went 9–3 and defeated Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. And yet, if the 2014 Wolfpack defeat the UCF Knights in the Bitcoin Bowl in St. Petersburg, FL on December 26th, they will finish the season 8–5, just two losses behind that highly touted Wolfpack squad. Further muddying the perspective, State fans were dismayed by the bowl selection process1, feeling like our 3–5 conference record earned us a spot in what? The Belk Bowl? Come on, State fan. Think about that.
We had a very nice season this year, but let’s not remove ourselves too far from reality. We looked good against our arch rival for 60 minutes and for 15 minutes against Florida State, a team that hasn’t shown up for a first quarter all season and a program that, somehow, we perennially match up well against for some reason or another. The rest of the season, we looked pedestrian and that probably serves as a clearer indication of where we actually stand as a football program – improving, but not quite good. Remember, our four non-conference wins did the most to make us bowl eligible and no one in their right minds is going to trot out that resumé as a justification for a better bowl game.
That said, we did what we needed to do. We won those early games, we competed in a few others, and we came away with victories in enough conference games to show some visible improvement over last year and we were rewarded with a trip to a bowl game. I personally would have loved a trip to the Belk Bowl, primarily because it’s closer and I might have considered attending, but the reality is we didn’t earn it and it’s time for State fans to take a step back and face reality2.
Photo Credit: stpetersburgbowl.com