Dave Doeren is going home.
Though he spent most of his formative years in the Midwest, Doeren was born in San Diego. That was a fun fact he shared with the media moments after it was announced that No. 18 N.C. State will be heading west for the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28.
The Wolfpack (9-3) will take on UCLA (8-4) out of the Pac-12. It’s the first time N.C. State has played a bowl game on the west coast. It’ll be a new experience for most of the players, but a sort of homecoming for Doeren.
“Pretty neat for me to get to come back to where I was born,” Doeren said. “I didn’t live there long, my dad was in the Navy at that time.”
Doeren also lived in Los Angeles until he was in the fourth grade before moving to Kansas. Over time he’s taken several trips back to San Diego to visit. This trip will be a combination of work and fun for the program.
N.C. State is 0-2 in its last two bowl games, both losses were in Jacksonville, Fla. at the TaxSlayer Gatorbowl.
The Wolfpack have a chance to secure a historic 10th win, going for it against a UCLA team that won three straight games to end the regular season. Doeren has a 3-3 record in bowl games. His last bowl win was in 2017 against Arizona State in the Sun Bowl.
N.C. State had a shot at playing for the ACC Championship and a win there would have led to a New Year’s Six bowl. That didn’t happen after Wake Forest secured the Atlantic, but the chance to chase win No. 10 and build momentum toward next season are plenty to keep the team motivated.
“The 10th win is very meaningful to this staff, to this team and to our football family,” Doeren said. “It’s a legacy thing. These seniors want to say they are one of only two teams in 130-plus years of football to be able to accomplish that.”
The Wolfpack No. 18 in the final College Football Playoff Rankings. A win over the Bruins could boost its stock in the final AP Poll (also currently No. 18) and jump start some momentum toward the 2022 season.
N.C. State has played in 33 bowl games, but has never played further west than Texas. Doeren sees this as an opportunity to expand the program’s brand on a national stage.
“It’s a nationally televised game against a team that has an incredible tradition,” Doeren said. “It’s a great opportunity to get to a different place on the map, somewhere a long way from here and create some exposure for the ACC out in California.”
Last year, because of COVID, the Pack did not get the full bowl trip experience. It went down to Jacksonville the day before the bowl game, prompting Doeren to say it felt like a normal road game.
Before meeting with the media Sunday, Doeren spoke with his captains and they laid out their plans for the west coast swing. They’ll do some sightseeing this time around before it’s down to business. Doeren didn’t know the entire itinerary. But he does have something on his to-do list once he and his team arrive in California.
“I love Sea World, man, I’ve always loved Sea World,” Doeren said. “I’ll definitely be taking that in. I love going to bowl games with our team, I think it’s a great experience. This will be a great cultural experience for them.”