North Carolina State Wolfpack (7-5 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS)
Franklin American Music City Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Monday December 31st, 2012. 12:00PM Eastern
Where: LP Field Nashville, T.N.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NCST +6/Vandy -6
Over/Under Total: 52
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Do not look now but Coach James Franklin is doing great things in Nashville. Franklin led the Vanderbilt Commodores to just their 2nd bowl appearance in 20 years last season despite a loss to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl. This year Vanderbilt won their final 6 games, their longest winning streak since 1955, to reach an 8-4 record. Now the Commodores will partake in their 2nd straight bowl game for the first time ever and have a chance to reach 9 wins which would tie a school record when they meet the North Carolina State Wolfpack in Nashville for the Music City Bowl.
The apparent homecoming for Commodores should definitely be an advantage when the Wolfpack come to town and one of the reasons Vanderbilt is laying 6.5 points against the 7-5 Wolfpack. Nearly 75% of bettors have backed Vanderbilt and the points in this game but North Carolina State will have different intentions when they arrive in Nashville. The Wolfpack have won 5 of their last 6 bowl games including two straight. However, North Carolina State will have to find that winning formula without former head Coach Tom O’Brien who was let go following the regular season.
Interim coach Dana Bible will lead North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl even though Dave Doeren has been named the coach for 2013. Bible has had a few weeks to attempt to shape up the defense after a disastrous year in which the Wolfpack gave up 420 total yards (79th in FBS) per game. If you look at the Wolfpack’s 5 losses this season, you will quickly notice that opponents were able to rack up 43 points on average over those 5 games. The offense should be able to get their share of points with senior QB Mike Glennon leading the passing attack. Glennon has posted decent numbers throwing for 3,648 yards with 30 scores and 14 picks on the season. Glennon and the rest of the offense will be receive a strong test from a Vanderbilt defense that ranks 17th overall giving up just 326 total yards per game. However if the Wolfpack do not get help from their own defense, it could be a disappointing trip.
Vanderbilt has quite the opposite agenda against North Carolina State. The Commodores defense has been extremely stout all season and gave up just 14.4 points per game over their final 5 outings. Surely the defense should be able to maintain against Glennon and company. The challenge for Vanderbilt will be to pull through on offense. The Commodores definitely have some talent on the field. Running back Zac Stacy is an underappreciated back that has put together solid numbers this year averaging just less than 6 yards per touch for 1,034 yards and 9 scores.
Additionally, WR Jordan Matthews is a go to guy in the passing game. Matthews compiled 87 catches for 1,262 yards (2nd in SEC) and 7 touchdowns this year. Matthews’ 1,262 yards is a school record and he will have the opportunity to extend that mark against the Wolfpack. Still the key component for the offense is QB Jordan Rodgers, AKA the little brother of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. The younger Rodgers has struggled with bouts of inconsistency despite still posting 2,431 yards with 13 scores and 5 picks on the year. Rodgers had a few shaky games down the stretch for Vanderbilt and it will be extremely important he puts together a solid effort to keep the Commodores on top.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I expect Vanderbilt to have success in this game and force North Carolina State to play from behind which may increase the tempo. I like a lean towards Vanderbilt on the side but think the over 52 may be the best play in this game. Consider the over 52. Good luck!
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