One of the best things about the Hyundai Sun Bowl's tie-in with the ACC is all the fresh new faces showing up in El Paso. That trend will continue Dec. 29th when No. 24 NC State makes its first-ever visit to the Sun City to take on Arizona State of the Pac-12.

Fourth pick from the Pac-12 always yields solid results, and the six-hour jaunt from Tempe, AZ, should yield a bumper crop of Sparky fans.

But it's the 14-deep beast from the east that has really provided a spark to El Paso's 84-year-old picture postcard to America.

Anyone remember Kyle Orton? El Pasoans who watched the Sun Bowl from 2001 through 2004 could hardly forget him. During the bowl's contract with the Big Ten, the conference sent Orton's Purdue team to the game three out of the four seasons he played quarterback for the Boilermakers.

With 10 of its 14 teams bowl-eligible, the ACC isn't liable to force El Pasoans into a college football version of Groundhog Day any time soon.

The Wolfpack's six conference wins tied the school's mark for the most in school history, and head coach Bill Doeren has NC State in its sixth bowl of his seven seasons in Raleigh, NC.

As for ASU, UTEP fans might remember head coach Todd Graham from his days leading former WAC and C-USA foes Rice and Tulsa.

What's memorable this time around will be that Graham is as lame a duck as they come. He's already been fired, but will lead the Sun Devils out for one final game.

Notable for Arizona State fans will be looking to see if Graham's replacement, former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards, makes an appearance in El Paso.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. MST on Friday, Dec. 29, and fans can purchase tickets online at, at the Sun Bowl office, 4150 Pinnacle off Executive Center Blvd., or at any Ticketmaster outlet.


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