North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS)
College Football Camping World Independence Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Monday December 26th, 2016. 5:00PM (EST)
Where: Independence Stadium Shreveport, L.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NCSU -4/VAN +4
Over/Under Total: 44
This yearís Camping World Independence Bowl will feature a pair of 6-6 teams from rival conferences when the North Carolina State Wolfpack meet the Vanderbilt Commodores at Independence Stadium on December 26th. Both teams earned victories in their season finales just to become bowl eligible. The Wolfpack knocked off rival North Carolina in a 28-21 outcome while Vanderbilt upset Tennessee 45-34 to earn their postseason appearance. Ironically both of those season finale wins breathed some positive light on eachís 2016 campaign as a whole. Now both the Commodores and the Wolfpack will try to build some momentum as they continue to build for 2017.
Wolfpack Head Coach Dave Doeren was considered to be on the coaching hot seat prior to the win against North Carolina. The Wolfpack have regressed in every season for the last 3 years but the victory over the Tar Heels officially put some positive vibes back into the football program. However, North Carolina State needs to capitalize off their postseason opportunity which is something they failed to do last year when they were embarrassed by Mississippi State 51-28 in the Belk Bowl. So far this season, North Carolina State has been pretty strong in games where they were the favorite going 5-2 ATS. This matchup provides another excellent opportunity to improve that mark as they clearly appear to have the edge on both sides of the football.
North Carolina State has housed the nationís 28th best total defense this year that has allowed just 356 yards per game. They have been excellent against the run yielding just 104 yards per game on the ground which is the 5th best mark in the FBS. On offense, the Wolfpack have been pretty competitive as well primarily behind the play of quarterback Ryan Finley and running back Matthew Dayes. Dayes may be the most under rated tailback in the ACC. The senior posted 1,119 rushing yards on the season that resulted in 10 touchdowns. Meanwhile Finley has been pretty decent as well with 2,820 passing yards with 15 scores and 8 picks on the season.
The Commodores have not been overly impressive on the defensive side of the football. In fact, the numbers are mediocre at best. Vanderbilt ranks 65th in the FBS in total defense giving up 410 total yards per game and 59th in the FBS against the run allowing 165 yards per game. The Wolfpack offensive line has had some troubles this year but I still think this is an excellent opportunity for North Carolina State to control the game flow to give their selves a chance to show their edge on both sides of the ball.
However, Vanderbilt has been the less talented team in most of their games this season and that did not stop them from closing out the season with back to back wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee. The Commodores really do not look that great on paper and they closed out the season playing much better than most statistics would suggest. This Vanderbilt team finds ways to be competitive and their effort level is always noteworthy. Running back Ralph Webb has easily been the most impressive performer for the offense with 1,172 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Webb went over the century mark in both of those final two games that resulted in big wins to send the Commodores into the postseason and he will be a big part of the offenseís efforts in this game.
With that being said, North Carolina State has an under rated defensive line led by Bradley Chubb. As stated previously, the Wolfpack have been outstanding against the run giving up just 104 yards per game. Therefore, I think Vanderbiltís chances will likely fall on the arm of quarterback Kyle Shurmur. Shurmur has been largely ineffective for most of the year but he did end the season on a positive note completing 21 of 34 passing for 416 yards with 2 scores and 1 pick in the win over Tennessee. I imagine that Vanderbilt will have to turn to the passing game more than they hope in this matchup and that means their fate likely will be on the play of Shurmur.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Vanderbilt beat NC State 38-24 in the 2012 Music City Bowl the last time these two teams competed. This time I believe the Wolfpack will get their revenge. I think the NC State defensive front is the undeniable difference in this game and they will finally get some credit in this matchup. Take NC State -4
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