Clemson back in CFP, Tar Heels & Wolfpack in Jan. 2 games, Wake headed to Charlotte, App State, Buffalo and South Carolina also in postseason

By Richard Walker

Former Crest standout Lannden Zanders’ new twitter profile after Clemson won its sixth straight ACC championship on Saturday in Charlotte.

The full 2020-21 college football bowl schedule was announced on Sunday and Clemson will again pursue a national title, North Carolina and N.C. State will play in New Year’s bowl games and Wake Forest will play in Charlotte’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

Also, local athletes for Appalachian State, Buffalo and South Carolina will be in postseason games.

Clemson, which just won its record-setting sixth straight ACC title, is the No. 2 team in the four-team College Football Playoff.

The Tigers (10-1), who have 2017 Crest graduate Lannden Zanders as a defensive back, will play No. 3 Ohio State (6-0) in New Orleans on Jan. 1 at 8 p.m. No. 1 Alabama (11-0) meets No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1) in Arlington, Tex., on Jan. 1 at 4 p.m. in the other semifinal.

Zanders had 27 tackles, with 2 1-2 for losses, and one forced fumble in nine games (eight starts) for Clemson this season. Also on the Tigers’ roster are defensive end Justin Foster (Crest 2017) and linebacker Matt McMahon (North Lincoln 2018).

North Carolina and N.C. State were invited to rare New Year’s bowl games for those rival programs.

North Carolina (8-3) was invited to play in one of the prestigous New Year’s Six bowls when the Tar Heels were selected to play in the Orange Bowl against Texas A&M (8-1) in Miami, Fla., at 8 p.m. on Jan. 2.

It’ll mark the first New Year’s bowl game for the Tar Heels since 1998 and seventh all-time. The previous New Year’s bowl games for the program came in 1947 (Sugar), 1949 (Sugar), 1950 Cotton), 1993 (Peach), 1997 (Gator) and 1998 (Gator). UNC has a 15-19 all-time record in postseason bowl games.

North Carolina’s defense has been led by 2016 East Lincoln High graduate Chazz Surratt. A linebacker, Surratt has team-highs in tackles (91) and quarterback sacks (6) and also has 7 1-2 tackles for loss, one interception and one fumble recovery in 11 starts. Also for the Tar Heels, British Brooks (Ashbrook 2018) had 46 yards rushing and two tackles in 11 games and Kendall Karr (Stuart Cramer 2020) has one catch for three yards in four games. Wide receiver Ray Rose (South Point 2020) and long snapper Spencer Triplett (Shelby 2020) are other local players on the UNC roster.

N.C. State (8-3) was invited to play in the Taxslayer Bowl against Kentucky (4-6) in Jacksonville, Fla., at noon on Jan. 2.

It’ll mark the first New Year’s bowl game for the Wolfpack since 2003 and sixth all-time. The previous New Year’s bowl games for the program came in 1947 (Gator), 1992 (Peach), 1994 (Hall of Fame), 1995 (Peach) and 2003 (Gator). N.C. State has a 17-14-1 all-time record in postseason bowl games.

The Wolfpack defense has gotten nine tackles and a 17-yard interception return from Jaylon Scott (Shelby 2019) and former East Lincoln standout Jalen Frazier also is on the N.C. State roster.

Wake Forest (4-4) will play in the NFL Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl against Wisconsin (3-3) at noon on Dec. 30. It’s the first time the bowl game has Duke’s Mayo as a title sponsor after previously being sponsored by Continental Tire, Meineke Car Care and Belk’s.

The Deacons are making their school-record fifth straight postseason bowl appearance and one of their top players is kicker Nick Sciba (Clover 2018), who has converted all 31 of his extra points and 14 of his 17 field goal attempts.

The 2020-21 bowl season actually gets underway on Monday at 2:30 p.m. when the first Myrtle Beach, S.C., Bowl is played between Appalachian State and North Texas. Appalachian State has two local products on its roster – linebacker Nate Blanton (Crest 2019) and offensive lineman Larry Dowdy (South Point 2019).

On Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., Aapri Washington (Mountain Island Charter 2017) and the Buffalo Bulls (5-1) play Marshall. Washington has four tackles in three games as a defensive back.

On Saturday at noon in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Fla., Nick Muse (South Point 2017) and South Carolina will meet UAB. Muse has 30 catches for 425 yards and one touchdown in 10 starts.