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Texas A&M will play North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl on Dec. 31 | Aggie Sports

Texas A&M will play North Carolina State in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 31.

N.C. State is 9-3, including 5-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Wolfpack’s losses were to Clemson 41-7, Syracuse 51-41 and Wake Forest 27-23.

The Aggies are 8-4 under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher, including 5-3 in Southeastern Conference play to tie LSU for second place in the West.

“We are very excited to be facing a very good North Carolina State team in a New Year’s Eve bowl game,”  Fisher said in a school release. “The Gator Bowl is a first-class event run by a first-class organization and the city is a great destination. I’m certain the 12th Man will enjoy its time in Florida.”

It will be the first meeting between Texas A&M and the Wolfpack. It will be Texas A&M’s second appearance in the Gator Bowl. Paul “Bear” Bryant’s final game as the Aggies’ head coach was a 3-0 loss to Tennessee in the 1957 Gator Bowl on Dec. 28, 1957.

N.C. State is making its fifth straight bowl appearance under coach Dave Doeren who has led the Wolfpack to back-to-back nine win seasons for the first time since 1991-92.

“We are excited for the chance to play in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl,” Doeren said on the school’s website. “Playing in a quality bowl with such a rich tradition is a great reward for our players. Florida is a big focus for us in recruiting and we have a strong alumni base in the state. I know that Wolfpack Nation – the greatest fan base in the country – will come to Jacksonville and support us.”

NC State’s explosive offense has rewritten the record books this season, entering bowl play as one of just two Power 5 teams to boast a 3,000-yard passer in Ryan Finley, a 1,000-yard rusher in Reggie Gallaspy Jr.,  and two 1,000-yard receivers in Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers.

Oklahoma is the only other Power Five Conference team this year to do that and the last time it happened in the ACC was Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State Seminoles in 2012.

“North Carolina State has a very good team and we are looking forward to the challenge. We will have our work cut out for us,” Fisher said.

Fisher while at Florida State was 5-3 against North Carolina State, including 4-1 against Doeren. Fisher is 5-2 in bowl games.

A&M is making its 10th straight bowl appearance and 40th overall.

The Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., which was rumored to be the other possible destination for A&M will have Mississippi State playing Iowa on Jan. 1. Kentucky, as expected, was picked to play Penn State in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1.

Vanderbilt will play Baylor in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 27 in Houston’s NRG Stadium; Auburn will play Purdue in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 28 in Nashville; Florida will play Michigan in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 29 in Atlanta; South Carolina will play Virginia in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 in Charlotte, N.C.; Missouri will play Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 31; LSU will play Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 1; and Georgia will play Texas in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1.

Alabama will play Oklahoma in the CFP semifinals in Miami on Dec. 29.

 A&M was ranked 19th in the final College Football Playoff Rankings.

The Aggies (8-4) also were 19th last week.  A&M moved up a spot to 21st in the Associated Press Top 25. A&M also moved up two spots to 20th in the coaches’ poll.

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