Sun Bowl score: NC State cruises past Arizona State even with Bradley Chubb out

Todd Graham was back on the sideline for one last time with Arizona State, and it speaks to the commitment of his players that they never gave up in a game where NC State led the entire time. 

By the end of the 50th Sun Bowl, the Wolfpack had outlasted the Sun Devils, holding on for a decisive 52-31 win to improve to 9-4 on the season, only the third time in the last two decades NC State has reached nine wins (2002, 2010). Quarterback Ryan Finley got things started early with a couple deep passes to Stephen Louis, and running back Nyheim Hines punched in a pair of touchdowns to establish a 14-0 lead before Arizona State's offense got rolling in the second quarter. 

NC State's early edge on defense was particularly impressive considering potential top-five NFL draft pick Bradley Chubb elected not to dress for the game. Chubb was with the team all week and on the sideline in his uniform without pads, rooting on his teammates after coming to a joint decision with coach Dave Doeren and his family that he would not participate in the action on Friday. 

"I'm still going to coach my tail off for these guys," Chubb told CBS Sports' Allie LaForce. "All season we've been so close. I just let them know this decision I made isn't anything about them it's just looking out for myself. They understood, everybody's gathered around me at practice. Everybody still loves me and I still love everybody. These are my boys, I'm glad to be out here, enjoying my last week with them before we go our separate ways." 

The early highlight of the game actually came from Arizona State as Pac-12 receiver of the year N'Keal Harry showed a national audience what they might have missed this season -- if you haven't gotten a chance to see the Sun Devils -- with arguably the catch of the day. 

Harry finished with a game-high 142 receiving yards on nine receptions. Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins had 352 passing yards with three touchdowns but also three interceptions, though his best play might have come on a touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, leaping over an NC State defender for the score. 

While Arizona State deserves credit for making a late charge and never giving up in a game where they trailed by two scores the entire time, NC State showed why it was favored by the oddsmakers and ultimately the more explosive of these two potent offensive teams. The challenge for Doeren will replicating the success of 2017 after losing Chubb, eight other defensive starters, Jaylen Samuels and maybe even a few other key pieces to graduation and the NFL draft as he continues to build his program in Raleigh. 

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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