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NORTH CAROLINA STATE vs. VANDERBILT
Monday, Dec. 31, 12:00 pm
NC State fired head coach Tom O’Brien after their season, and they have just hired Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren. Even though O’Brien has led the Wolfpack to three straight bowl games, his teams have failed to live up to expectations. Future NFL quarterback Mike Glennon and the passing game is the entire offense. Glennon has three 600-yard-plus receivers to throw to in Quintin Payton, Tobias Palmer and Bryan Underwood. But the rushing offense was ranked just 109th in the country. There’s no balance to offset the passing game, and Vanderbilt’s strength is certainly their secondary. They match up well.
The player who can hurt Vandy the most is no doubt Glennon. His ability to make explosive plays against the Dores’ secondary will be key for a Wolfpack upset. What you need to know about Vanderbilt: This team continues to surpass expectations, as this marks the school’s first time in history that they are playing in back-to-back bowl games. James Franklin has created winning momentum and has taken the program to heights everyone thought wasn’t possible. And he just signed an extension and got a raise – can Vanderbilt become the south’s Stanford? The Commodores’ offense has been good, but not great. However, running back Zac Stacy and Jordan Matthews have been great. Vanderbilt’s strength is on the defensive side of the football, as is the case with any successful SEC team, right? The job that Bob Shoop and his staff have done has been nothing short of fantastic. He’s elevated the level of play with players who were inherited as part of a 2-10 roster two years ago. The Commodores’ strength is defending the pass, as they finished 5th in the country in passing defense efficiency. Vandy’s ability to force Glennon into some turnover situations in the passing game will have a massive impact on the outcome. Vanderbilt matches up particularly well to the strengths of the Wolfpack’s offense.
Anytime an SEC team plays against an ACC team, you have to tip your hat to the SEC team, right? Of course you do. I really like the Commodores’ matchup with NC State’s passing game. The Dores might not be the flashiest defense, but they tackle well and are very sound in coverage. So, Vandy’s defense should be able to create some opportunities to get after the quarterback and make Glennon make quick decisions, hopefully forcing a couple turnovers in the process. The Commodores’ running game could end up being the difference. Vanderbilt’s ability to move the chains with Zac Stacy, Brian Kimbrow and Wesley Tate is just as important as defending the pass. The running game and defense is why the SEC excels against lesser foes, and this game will be no different. Stacy’s ground-pounding ability makes quarterback Jordan Rodgers and receiver Jordan Matthews better on play action. I have Vanderbilt winning this game by 2 touchdowns and that to me is a nice cushion and seems to me a no brainer jumping all over Vandy.
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