Music City Bowl Picks: North Carolina State Wolfpack vs Vanderbilt Commodores

2012 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Monday, December 31, 2012, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
North Carolina State Wolfpack vs Vanderbilt Commodores
LP Field – Nashville, Tennessee
Opening Line: Vanderbilt -6 1/2
Current Total: Vanderbilt -7 (-115)
Opening Total: 51 1/2
Current Total: 51 1/2
Opening Money Line: Vanderbilt -300 / NC State +250
Current Money Line: Vanderbilt  -300 / NC State +250

Vanderbilt is a 7 point favorite over North Carolina St in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Vanderbilt is playing in back-to-back bowls for the first time in school history.

The 8-4 Vanderbilt Commodores take on the 7-5 North Carolina St Wolfpack in the 2012 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville Monday. Despite being less than 600 miles from each other, this is only the second meeting between the schools. Vanderbilt won the only previous meeting in 1946.

North Carolina St is 14-11-1 all-time in bowl games. The Wolfpack have won 5 of their last 6 bowl games and 2 in a row, including 31-24 over Louisville in the 2011 Belk Bowl. Vanderbilt is 2-2-1 all-time in bowl games. They have qualified for back-to-back bowls for the first time in school history. The Commodores lost 31-24 to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl last season.

NC State fired coach Tom O’Brien despite a third straight winning season. Dana Bible will be the interim coach for the bowl game. NC State hired Dave Doeren from Northern Illinois for next season. Doeren led NIU to the MAC Championship and a berth in the Orange Bowl against Florida St New Year’s night.

The Wolfpack finished 4-4 in the ACC this season. One of the reasons O’Brien was fired was because many thought NC State would compete for the conference title. That didn’t work out as planned. North Carolina St has losses to Tennessee 35-21 in Atlanta, along with road losses at Miami-(FL) 44-37, North Carolina 43-35, and Clemson 62-48, along with a home loss to Virginia 33-6. The Wolfpack have home wins over South Alabama 31-7, the Citadel 52-14, Florida St 17-16, Wake Forest 37-6, and Boston College 27-10 to close out the regular season. NC State has road wins at Connecticut 10-7 and Maryland 20-18. The Wolfpack are 5-6-1 ATS and the total is 4-7 this season.

NC State is averaging 420.9 yards per game on offense, including 304 passing and 116.9 rushing yards. The Wolfpack are #20 in passing nationally and #108 in rushing out of 124 teams. NC State is outscoring teams 28-25 this season. The Wolfpack are -4 in turnovers with 28 turnovers. NC State averages 47.2 penalty yards per game and has allowed 36 sacks this season. The Wolfpack are 96/237 on third and fourth down conversions and 66/82 scoring in the red zone with 50 touchdowns. On defense, North Carolina St is allowing 419.7 yards per game including 261.8 passing yards and 157.9 rushing yards. The Wolfpack are #80 in total offense and #98 in pass defense. NC State has forced 24 turnovers and 32 sacks this season. Wolfpack opponents are 57/201 on third and fourth down conversions and 56/72 scoring in the red zone with 40 touchdowns. NC State has 2 special teams and a defensive touchdown this season.

Quarterback Mike Glennon has completed 295 of 511 passes (57.7%) for 3,648 yards with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Glennon has been sacked 33 times but has two rushing touchdowns this season. Both came in the blowout win over the Citadel.

Running back Shadrach Thornton has 142 carries, 655 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 25 catches, 233 yards and a touchdown. Tony Creecy has 118 carries, 433 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 28 catches, 132 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Barnes and Mustafa Greene will also get some carries and catches. James Washington is out for the season with a knee injury.

Receiver Quinton Payton has 48 catches, 761 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tobias Palmer has 46 catches, 670 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also averages 26 yards per kick return and has a touchdown. Bryan Underwood has 43 catches, 615 yards and 10 touchdowns. Mario Carter has 33 catches, 333 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rashard Smith has 16 catches, 265 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also has a punt return for a touchdown. Five defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

Vanderbilt is coached by James Franklin. The Commodores won 8 games in a season for the first time since 1981. They have a chance to win 9 games in a season for the first time since 1915. The Commodores have home losses to South Carolina 17-13 and Florida 31-17, and road losses at Northwestern 23-13 and Georgia 48-3. All losses were to teams with at least 9 wins.  Vanderbilt has won six straight games. The Commodores have home wins over Presbyterian 58-0, Auburn 17-13, Massachusetts 49-7, and Tennessee 41-18 along with road wins at Missouri 19-15, Kentucky 40-0, Ole Miss 27-26, and Wake Forest 55-21. The 6-6 Ole Miss Rebels are the only bowl team Vanderbilt has beaten. The Commodores are 8-4 ATS and the total is 5-6 this season.

Vanderbilt is averaging 392.6 yards per game on offense including 221.2 passing and 171.4 rushing yards. The Commodores are outscoring teams 29-18 this season. Vanderbilt is #14 nationally in points allowed. Vanderbilt is -5 in turnovers with 18 giveaways. The Commodores average 48 penalty yards and have allowed 23 sacks this season. Vanderbilt is 74/200 on third and fourth down conversions and are 32/44 scoring in the red zone with 20 touchdowns. On defense, the Commodores are allowing 326.4 total yards, including 175.8 passing and 150.6 rushing yards per game. Vanderbilt is #18 in total defense and #10 against the pass. The Commodores have forced 13 turnovers and 28 sacks. Vanderbilt opponents are 67/214 on third and fourth down conversions and 30/36 scoring in the red zone with 15 touchdowns. The Commodores have 3 punt returns for touchdowns and 2 pick sixes.

Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers is the younger brother of the Green Bay Packers’ QB Aaron. The younger Rodgers has completed 175 of 294 passes (59.5%) for 2,431 yards with 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has been sacked 22 times and has a rushing touchdown. Austyn Carta-Samuels started the Presbyterian game when Rodgers was injured. He has 208 passing yards and a touchdown.

Running back Zac Stacy has 182 carries, 1,034 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 193 yards. Brian Kimbrow has 65 carries, 415 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Wesley Tate has 98 carries, 362 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 10 catches, 106 yards and a touchdown. Warren Norman has 21 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Receiver Jordan Matthews has 87 catches, 1,262 yards with 7 touchdowns, along with 65 rushing yards and a touchdown. Chris Boyd has 46 catches, 756 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kris Kentera has 10 catches, 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jonathan Krause has 2 punt returns for touchdowns and averages  11 yards per return.

NC State is 4-0-1 ATS in bowl games, and in December, 5-1-1 in neutral site games, 12-5-1 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 7-3-1 against teams with winning records, 23-11-2 after a cover, and 33-16-3 on grass.

Vanderbilt is 5-0 ATS after a straight up win, and overall, 4-0 after a cover, and 6-2 in non-conference games.

This game matches up North Carolina St’s 20th ranked passing attack against Vanderbilt’s 10th ranked pass defense. I don’t see a lot of scoring in this game. Vanderbilt is red hot right now, but they have beaten a string of mediocre or bad teams. North Carolina St is easily the best team they have seen in 7 games. Still, North Carolina St isn’t Georgia, South Carolina, or Florida whom the Commodores lost to earlier in the season. Vanderbilt wins in their home city.

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