2023 Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs Kansas St

2023 Pop-Tarts Bowl – NC State vs Kansas St

posted December 27

The Game

It’s time to celebrate SIMULATED BREAKFAST PASTRIES. Bring on the Pop-Tarts Bowl, BAYBEE. **

The NC State Wolfpack (9-3) roll into Orlando on a 5-game HEATER and they’ve been playing their best football of the season upon the return of grizzled veteran QB Brennan Armstrong. The 2022 Big 12 Champions from Kansas St (8-4) were hoping to get back to the title game but they dropped three conference games and didn’t get a chance to pull the repeat.

** we love Pop-Tarts. Blueberry flavor for the WIN.

The Details

Kansas St -2.5 NC State (47.5)


“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: Kansas St 25 NC State 22.5

Kansas St offense vs NC State defense

The Wildcats will get the new era at QB started early as star recruit Avery Johnson (true freshman) will lead the troops in this one. Johnson has excellent mobility (9 rush TD) but he’s obviously still developing as a passer. Sadly, the Wildcats will be without their top-two THROW GAME targets in WR Phillip Brooks and all-Universe TE Ben Sinnott, so that’ll make Johnson’s job more difficult. As far as our BIG 12 INSIDERS are aware the Cats will have 1,000-yard RB DJ Giddens available for this game so expect to see a lot of him to complement the threat of Johnson’s rushing ability. The Wolfpack have been mighty stingy (again) on defense (#26 FBS total defense, #16 run D, #24 pass efficiency D) and the good news for the Pack is that star LB Payton Wilson is gonna give it a go!

NC State offense vs Kansas St defense

NC State’s season-long stats have been mediocre (#76 rush, #99 pass) but they’ve definitely been better down the stretch with the return of Brennan Armstrong under center. He’s not flashy to say the least (11-6 TD to INT) but he’s tougher than a NIGHT IN JAIL when running the ball and he leads the Pack in rushing yards (544, 6 TD). The bad news is that they don’t have anyone else on the roster who’s gained more than 300 (!) yards on the ground but they did manage to cobble together 188/170 rushing yards in their final two games vs Virginia Tech and UNC. They don’t have many dangerous weapons to use when they want to MATRICULATE the ball down the field thru the air but WR Kevin Concepcion is getting better every week and he booked four TD receptions in the final two games (and 99 rush yards). Kansas St’s defense has been decent (#3 Big 12 total defense, #2 scoring defense) but they’ll be without a small handful of key players in this contest.

Trends, Intangibles and More!

The Wolfpack have finished the season with exactly nine wins FOUR times under HC Dave Doeren but they’ve never had a double-digit winning season……They’ll be motivated to get that extra win this time around…..Kansas St is 10-14 in bowl action and HC Chris Klieman is 1-2 in bowl games with the Wildcats…..There may be a bit of rain on game day but it doesn’t look like anything serious as we approach press time.


We’ll take a stab with the underdog that plays better defense and the Pack should have the theoretical edge in motivation. Heck, they just might be the better team at this point considering who’s out for the Wildcats.


Lean – NC State +2.5 <feel free to buy up to +3; we’ll see if a cheap one is available at some point but +2.5 is the pick for tracking purposes>

‘Official play’ implies this pick is one of our favorites of the week (perceived value, match-up, coaching, trends, etc.). We’re currently playing these picks for the same amount as the leans but it’s up to you how you want to manage your bankroll. Please see the Week in Review posts for more detail.

‘Lean’ implies we are placing a wager on the game.

‘No leanage’ implies we won’t have any action on the game.

Team totalsWe list the implied number based on the point spread and total when our analysis is posted. If a team total ends up being an official play we will post a widely available number at the time of pick release.