North Carolina State was on the verge of a special season if not for a couple of disappointing setbacks in November.
But the Wolfpack hasn't given up on making it a memorable season, particularly if it can reach the nine-win mark for the first time under fifth-year coach Dave Doeren.
N.C. State meets Arizona State in the Sun Bowl. It's the first time the teams have met since 1974.
For the Wolfpack, it's a chance to continue an upward trend and win in the postseason for the third time in four seasons.
"It would be good momentum going into the offseason," Doeren said. "Finishing in the Top 25 is one of our program goals and that would be mission accomplished. ... I do like having positive momentum in your offseason and in recruiting because of your bowl game."
Between the end of the regular season, when the Wolfpack defeated rival North Carolina, and the bowl invitation, Doeren's name surfaced as a candidate at Tennessee. He ultimately received a new contact with N.C. State.
Doeren said it was good to have that sorted out so it shouldn't be a distraction in regard to the Sun Bowl.
"I met with our players after it was all resolved. I told them how excited I was," Doeren said. "I think it was just a big relief to have it over with on both sides (the coach's family and the school). ... I know it was a tough 48 hours on (the players). Glad to have it behind us."
The Wolfpack has excelled on both sides of the ball during parts of the season.
N.C. State has a defensive line that often receives plenty of attention, in large part because of senior defensive end Bradley Chubb, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Now there's a question of if Chubb's draft stock is so high that might consider skipping the bowl game. Doeren said that's a discussion that's bound to take place.
"They're the type of family that really talks things through," Doeren said. "He has done everything he can for this football program. We understand he has a tough decision to make."
The defensive group, regardless of its makeup, will be tasked with keeping tabs on Arizona State running back Demario Richard, who's just 23 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards this season.
Chubb isn't alone on the N.C. State roster with a collegiate career coming to a close. The Wolfpack has other notables, such as hybrid back Jaylen Samuels.
Three of the past N.C. State bowl games have come against teams from the Southeastern Conference. So this is at least something new for the Wolfpack with an opponent from the Pac-12.
"An opportunity to play a team from a league we don't cross over very often," Doeren said.
Most important for N.C. State, though, will be ending the season on a high note. Already, the Wolfpack re-appeared in the national rankings so now the goal is to be there at the end.
"It would be great for this senior class and this coaching staff," Doeren said. "I don't think any one game can derail you. If we go down there and don't win for whatever reason, our season won't be a failure, I can tell you that."