NC State standout Chubb likely next to sit for Sun Bowl
By JOHN ERFORT
Dec. 28, 2017
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — North Carolina State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb hasn't talked with reporters and done only side work during practice for the Sun Bowl.
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren isn't making much of a secret of Chubb most likely sitting out Friday's game against Arizona State, which would be the second straight year that the biggest story for the oldest bowl in Texas was a highly touted NFL prospect opting not to play. A year ago, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey sat out before the Carolina Panthers took him eighth overall in the NFL draft.
Asked if the status of Chubb, a senior, was a game-time decision, Doeren said: "No. It's not. But we're not going to talk about it."
Even without Chubb, the Wolfpack has eight seniors on defense. Their nine returning starters were the most in the FBS this season.
"Their defensive line is special," said Sun Devils coach Todd Graham, who will be replaced by Herm Edwards after the game. "As good as we've played against. (Chubb) is as good as there is in the country."
Arizona State (7-5) features the backfield pair of Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard. Ballage scored eight touchdowns against Texas Tech last season, while Richard was the Sun Bowl MVP as a freshman three years ago. He tied the bowl record with four TDs rushing in a 36-31 win over Duke.
Ballage said the two seniors never had an issue sharing the ball. Richard has 977 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on 185 carries. Ballage has 657 yards and six scores on 152 attempts.
"I think that a lot of it stems from us being together for four years," Ballage said. "We're just unselfish. We're team players."
The Wolfpack (8-4) is seeking the second-most wins in school history, and trying to stay in the final College Football Playoff rankings. N.C. State was No. 24 going into bowl season.
"This year it's really important to have a Top 25 finish," running back Nyheim Hines said. "We haven't done that yet since I've been here."
Things to consider in the first meeting between these schools since 1974 and the third overall (1-1):
The Sun Devils are 3-1-1 in the Sun Bowl with three straight wins. They were frequent visitors to El Paso as a conference rival of UTEP before leaving the Western Athletic Conference in the late 1970s. Arizona State is 14-14-1 all-time in bowl games. A five-year bowl streak ended last year.
Chubb won the Bronco Nagurski (top defensive player) and Ted Hendricks (top defensive end) awards. He is projected as a top 10 pick. Ballage and N.C. State all-purpose back Jaylen Samuels are expected to be mid-round picks.
El Paso is famous for Mexican food, and Hines noticed. "Hopefully it doesn't slow us down, but I'll be eating a lot of it," he said. Hines also was interested in a team visit to Fort Bliss because of family members in the military.
N.C. State is making its 31st bowl appearance (16-13-1). This will be the team's fourth consecutive bowl game and sixth in seven years under Doeren. Last year, the Wolfpack beat Vanderbilt 41-17 in the Independence Bowl.
North Carolina State: Perhaps the Wolfpack will get a look at some younger defensive ends with Chubb likely not playing. They'll need the scouting reports with nine senior starters leaving.
Arizona State: All eyes will be on former NFL coach Edwards in the offseason following the unique announcement of a role that resembles that of a general manager in the NFL. The first question will be how relates to players since he hasn't been in the college game since he was an assistant at San Jose State in 1989.
This story has been updated to correct Arizona State's bowl record.