Going bowling: A look at NC’s 5 FBS teams that are playing this month

East Carolina and all four of the state’s ACC teams are headed to bowls

Duke coach Mike Elko and quarterback Riley Leonard are headed to a bowl game, and the Blue Devils will face UCF in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28 in Annapolis, Maryland. (Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo)

Five FBS teams from North Carolina will compete in bowl games over the next month, including all four of the state’s ACC schools. While App State fell short of playing in a bowl game for the eighth straight season, East Carolina will play in the postseason for the first time since 2014.

Here is a look at all five games and the histories between the teams.

Gasparilla Bowl

Wide receiver A.T. Perry and Wake Forest will face Missouri in the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 23 in Tampa, Florida. (Chuck Burton / AP Photo)

Wake Forest (7-5, 3-5 ACC) vs. Missouri (6-6, 3-5 SEC)

Dec. 23, 6:30 p.m. • Tampa, Florida

All-time series: First meeting

Wake Forest and Missouri will square off for the first time at the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa. The Demon Deacons stumbled down the stretch with four losses in five games but feature one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in Sam Hartman, who threw for more than 3,400 yards with 35 touchdowns. The Tigers picked things up in the season’s second half by winning four of six and beating border rival Arkansas in the finale. Mizzou — led by former App State coach and NC State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz — enters with the SEC’s No. 4 defense overall and against the run. Wake Forest is making its seventh consecutive bowl appearance and is 10-6 overall. This is their first appearance in the Gasparilla Bowl.

Birmingham Bowl

East Carolina (7-5, 4-3 AAC) vs. Coastal Carolina (9-3, 6-1 Sun Belt)

Dec. 27, 6:45 p.m. • Birmingham, Alabama

All-time series: First meeting

After winning just 16 games over five seasons from 2016 to 2020, East Carolina has totaled 17 in three years under coach Mike Houston, including back-to-back seven-win regular seasons. The Pirates will play in a bowl for the first time since 2014. Coastal Carolina just hired NC State offensive coordinator Tim Beck to lead the program after Jamey Chadwell left for the Liberty job. The Chanticleers are led by three-time Sun Belt player of the year quarterback Grayson McCall. Keaton Mitchell has run for 1,325 yards and 13 touchdowns for East Carolina, which has posted consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2013 and 2014. The Pirates are 9-11 all-time in bowls. Their berth in last year’s Military Bowl was canceled because of COVID-19 protocols within the Boston College program.

Military Bowl

Duke (8-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. UCF (9-4, 6-2 AAC)

Dec. 28, 2 p.m. • Annapolis, Maryland

All-time series: First meeting

ACC Coach of the Year Mike Elko became the first Blue Devils coach to win eight games in his first season at the helm since Fred Goldsmith did it in 1994, and Duke will have a shot at nine when it meets UCF in the Military Bowl. UCF lost to 14th-ranked Tulane in the AAC championship game. Blue Devils left tackle Graham Barton, an All-ACC first-team pick, started all 12 games for a team that allowed a league-low 17 sacks. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is UCF’s leading rusher and passer. Duke is 6-8 all-time in bowl games but has won three straight, and both schools are playing in the Military Bowl for the first time.

Holiday Bowl

UNC (9-4, 6-2 ACC) vs. Oregon (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12)

Dec. 28, 8 p.m. • San Diego

All-time series: First meeting

The Holiday Bowl returns for the first time since 2019 and in a new venue — the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park. The 2020 game was canceled due to the pandemic and UCLA pulled out of the 2021 matchup against NC State just hours before kickoff. The Tar Heels won the ACC Coastal Division but have lost three straight, including a blowout loss to Clemson in the ACC title game. Oregon has lost two of its last three games. UNC coach Mack Brown will be coaching in his 26th bowl game, and he’s 15-10 overall. It will be the Tar Heels’ first time in the Holiday Bowl and 37th bowl overall, and UNC has lost five of its last six. Quarterbacks Bo Nix of the Ducks and UNC’s Drake Maye lead the offenses for the two teams.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

NC State (8-4, 4-4 ACC) vs. Maryland (7-5, 4-5 Big Ten)

Dec. 31, noon • Charlotte

All-time series: Maryland leads 32-33-4

In a reunion of teams that were in the ACC together for decades, NC State will face Maryland — a team it has played 69 times, the fifth most of any opponent — in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte. The Wolfpack boast a veteran defense but have started four different quarterbacks this season. Maryland started 6-2 before losing three straight games but closed the regular season with a shutout win against Rutgers. Taulia Tagovailoa, the brother of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, has thrown for 17 touchdowns and rushed for four more for Maryland. It will be NC State’s first time in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, but the Wolfpack have a history with postseason games in Charlotte. The Terps will play in North Carolina for the first time in 29 bowl games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.