Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - The Vanderbilt Commodores will stay in
Nashville for their postseason action as they take on the NC State Wolfpack in
the 2012 Music City Bowl at LP Field.
"I love Nashville, and I'm excited about the (possibility) of the Music City
Bowl, but we try to focus our time on the things that we can control, and
wherever they tell us we're going we will be unbelievably excited," VU's coach
James Franklin said after the team's regular-season finale win over Wake
Forest. "There is no bad bowl game."
Franklin got his wish after leading his Commodores to an 8-4 record, its best
in 30 years, courtesy of a six-game winning streak that they will take into
the bowl game. The Commodores also finished with an impressive 5-3 mark in SEC
action. Vanderbilt's last loss came on Oct. 13 when it hosted Florida and its
previous losses came to South Carolina, Northwestern, and Georgia, who are all
playing in bowl games this season. Franklin has done a tremendous job since
taking over the helm of the program as he has now led it to an unprecedented
two straight bowl game appearances and its best record in 30 years after a 2-4
Vanderbilt may not know what to expect as it takes on an inconsistent yet
talented NC State squad. The Wolfpack will be led by Dana Bible for one game
after Tom O'Brien was dismissed on Nov. 25 despite the team's 7-5 finish to
the regular season that yielded the school's fourth consecutive bowl
appearance. The program will move forward under the guidance of Dave Doeren,
who led Northern Illinois to a BCS game this season. The Wolfpack tallied a
4-4 ACC record that included a victory over Florida State but an embarrassing
33-6 home loss to Virginia.
"This is our last chance together," said Bible. "It is important to us that we
finish strong. There is nothing better than being successful in a bowl game.
There are no bad teams in a bowl game. We're playing the top guys and they
will bring their A-game. Its a chance for us to bring our A-game and anytime
there is that type of challenge you want to run with it."
This will be just the second meeting in history between these schools on the
gridiron. The only previous matchup game in 1946 when Vandy earned a 7-0
The Wolfpack's air it out offensive system gave them the 20th best pass
offense in the FBS (304.0 ypg), but a 106th ranked rushing attack with only
116.9 yards on the ground per contest.
Graduate student QB Mike Glennon led the offensive attack with NC State and
joined Phillip Rivers as the only other player in school history to average
more than 300 yards passing per game in a single season. Glennon finished the
regular season with an ACC best 3,648 yards and 30 TDs to 14 interceptions on
295-of-511 passing. The fifth-year QB had a strong finish to the season with
738 yards and eight TD passes in his last two outings.
Glennon has a trio of capable receivers in Quintin Payton, Tobias Palmer, and
Bryan Underwood. Payton ended the season with team-high totals of 48 catches
and 761 yards. Palmer made history on Nov. 17 at Clemson with an ACC record
496 all-purpose yards (277 kick return, 219 receiving). He made five of his
six touchdown grabs in the final two games of the season. Underwood reeled in
43 receptions for 615 yards and 10 TDs, which is the second most in the ACC.
The Wolfpack's defensive unit gave up 419.7 yards per game, but allowed an
average of only 24.5 points due to its aggressive nature. NC State led the ACC
in sacks per game (2.7) and ranked 10th in the FBS in tackles for loss (7.5).
Safeties Earl Wolff (110) and Brandan Bishop (99) were the team's top
tacklers. All-American David Amerson tied for first in the conference with
five interceptions, while Justin Burris and Bishop recorded three picks
apiece. The talented and physical secondary of NC State has the respect of its
opposition's head coach.
"We usually have a size advantage, but we really don't this week. They are
huge at the corner, 6-2 and 6-3 is what they are, which is unusually large not
only for college but even for the NFL," said Franklin on NC State's secondary.
Vandy's offense picked it up down the stretch with 430 yards or more of total
offense in four of its last five games after reaching that mark just once in
its first seven outings. The unit began to thrive as quarterback Jordan
Rodgers and tailback Zac Stacy found their groove.
Rodgers, the younger brother of the All-Pro NFL QB Aaron Rodgers, finished his
first season as a full-time starter with 2,431 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five
interceptions with a 59.5 completion percentage. The senior signal caller has
thrown two touchdown passes in five straight games with only three picks
during that span.
Stacy reached the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season by gaining
180 yards on 21 carries in the regular-season finale at Wake Forest to bring
hi season total to 1,034. He also scored twice on the ground to arrive at nine
rushing TDs. Thanks to his stellar junior and senior campaigns, Stacy is the
all-time leading rusher in the school's 123-year history.
Rodgers also has a pair of dynamic targets in Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd.
Matthews was the second leading receiver in the SEC and sixth in the FBS with
1,262 yards and seven TDs on 87 receptions. Boyd, who has terrific size for a
wideout at 6-4, 205, also made an impact with 756 yards and four TDs on 46
Defensively, the Commodores were solid all season long as they allowed only
Georgia, Florida, and Ole Miss to gain more than 400 yards of total offense
against them. Vandy finished the regular season ranked 17th in the FBS in
total defense (326.4) and 15th in scoring defense (18.3). The junior safety
tandem of Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall tied for the team-lead with 80
tackles each. Chase Garnham and Karl Butler contributed 11.5 tackles for loss
apiece to the unit that totaled 93 to go along with 28 sacks. Trey Wilson is
the Commodores' best defensive playmaker as he returned both of his
interceptions for scores.
The Sports Network