NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK (7-5)
vs. VANDERBILT COMMODORES (8-4)
Music City Bowl - Nashville, TN
Kickoff: Monday, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Vanderbilt -7.5, Total: 51.5
Two red-hot teams square off on New Year's Eve when NC State plays a virtual road game in the Nashville-based Music City Bowl against Vanderbilt.
Wolfpack interim head coach Dana Bible takes over for fired Tom O'Brien and tries to lead his team to a win over Vandy in its home city. Both teams are hot, as NCSU has won three in row ATS, while the Commodores have ripped off six straight wins (5-1 ATS). NC State QB Mike Glennon has 30 TD passes this year, but also 14 INT. He threw for 264 yards and 3 TD in last year's bowl win over Louisville. The Wolfpack's 97th-ranked pass defense could have a hard time covering Vandy star Jordan Matthews (105 rec. YPG, 6th in nation) coming off three straight games of 115+ receiving yards.
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NC State has 304 passing YPG this year, good for 20th in the nation. Glennon has thrown for more than 400 yards in three of his past eight games, tossing 24 TD and 12 INT during this stretch. He hasn't relied on just one receiver either, as seven different Wolfpack players have at least 230 receiving yards. Quintin Payton (761 rec. yds, 2 TD), Tobias Palmer (670 rec. yds, 6 TD) and Bryan Underwood (615 rec. yds, 10 TD) all rank among the top-17 ACC receivers in yardage. Palmer has been the go-to guy lately with 14 catches for 274 yards and 5 TD in just the past two games alone. The Wolfpack are not a great rushing team though at 117 YPG (108th in FBS). In the past four games, that number has dipped to 106 YPG on a woeful 2.8 yards per carry. Freshman Shadrach Thornton has a team-high 655 rushing yards and three straight 100-yard games, but has gained just 4.3 YPC during this streak. This defense isn't terrible (24.6 PPG, 420 YPG), but it has allowed 35+ points four times, giving up 43 to North Carolina, 44 to Miami and 62 to Clemson -- all on the road. The front four usually gets good penetration though, ranking 2nd in the ACC in sacks (2.7 per game) and 13th in the nation in Tackles For Loss (7.5 per game).
Vanderbilt isn't known for an explosive offense, but it does have 40+ points in four of its past five games. Senior QB Jordan Rodgers has thrown exactly 2 TD in all five of these contests with just 3 INT total. He's looking to redeem himself after a dreadful showing in last year's Liberty Bowl loss to Cincinnati, as he went 4-of-14 for 26 yards (1.9 YPA), 0 TD and 1 INT. Junior WR Jordan Matthews caught just four passes for 56 yards against the Bearcats, but he has been consistently excellent in 2012 with seven 100-yard games. In the past three contests, he's piled up 26 catches for 412 yards and 3 TD. The Vandy running game is mediocre (170 YPG, 53rd in nation), but Zac Stacy (1,034 rush yds, 9 TD) is coming off a season-high 180 rushing yards and 2 TD in the 55-21 blowout win at Wake Forest. The Commodores defense is solid throughout (18.3 PPG, 326 YPG), but they excel in defending the pass, ranking 5th in the nation in passing efficiency defense (6 TD, 8 INT) and 10th in FBS in passing yardage defense (176 YPG).