North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Dec. 31, 12 p.m., ESPN
LP Field (Nashville, Tenn.)
Line: Vanderbilt -5
North Carolina State was expected to compete for an ACC championship this season, but instead went 4-4 in conference play. Vanderbilt is playing in its second consecutive bowl game and is riding a six-game winning streak after opening the season 2-4.
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Aces: QB Mike Glennon was expected to lead this team to more than a 7-5 season, but he’s still considered one of the top NFL prospects at his position after throwing for 3,648 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Deuces: WR Tobias Palmer produced just average numbers (46 receptions and six touchdowns), but he can still take over a game through the return game and by running the ball.
Wildcard: N.C. State’s pass defense was supposed to be a strength in 2012, especially with All-American David Amerson returning. Instead, the unit underachieved and is a big reason why Tom O’Brien is not the coach any longer. If this unit plays up to its potential in the bowl game then this game could be lopsided.
Aces: WR Jordan Matthews ranks second in the SEC with 87 catches and 1,262 yards. The 6-foot-3 wideout has also scored in four straight games coming into the bowl.
Deuces: Vanderbilt’s pass defense has been stifling this season. The Commodores rank in the Top 10 nationally in passing touchdowns (six) and average passing yards (175.8).
Wildcard: Coach James Franklin is an emotional guy and there’s no question he will play a factor in the outcome of this game — whether that’s during a pre-game speech or a halftime adjustment.
So you don’t forget...: Take what you want from common opponents, but Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee (41-18) and Wake Forest (55-21), while N.C. State lost to the Volunteers (35-21) and rolled Wake (37-6).
Crystal Ball: Vanderbilt hasn’t won a bowl game since a 16-14 upset of Boston College in the 2008 Music City Bowl. The Commodores have been playing well and will be ready for the challenge of taking on an average ACC program.
Score: Vanderbilt 28, N.C. State 21