ACC: Jordan Matthews


Here’s a quick look back at Vanderbilt’s 38-24 win over NC State in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl:

It was over when: On fourth-and-14 with just over five minutes left in the game, Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers made the best throw of the day and extended what would be the game-clinching scoring drive. His 14-yard pass to Jordan Matthews set Vandy up on NC State’s 20-yard line, and Rodgers scored three plays later to give Vandy a 38-17 lead.

Gameball goes to: Vanderbilt’s defense. The opportunistic Commodores forced five turnovers. (It could have been six, but NC State recovered one of its fumbles.) Vandy had three interceptions, and forced two fumbles -- quite a stat line considering the Commodores entered the game with just 13 takeaways all season. Vandy also held NC State to just 41 yards rushing and had three sacks.

Stat of the game: Five turnovers. NC State turned the ball over four times in the first half. The Pack had two fumbles and also two interceptions by quarterback Mike Glennon, leading to a 28-14 halftime lead for Vanderbilt. A fumble in the second quarter led to Vandy’s 14-0 lead, and an interception later in the half led to another Vandy touchdown. An interception by Glennon to start the second half led to a Vanderbilt field goal and a 31-14 lead.

Unsung hero: Rodgers. Even with the five turnovers, NC State still had a chance in the fourth quarter to make it a two-possession ballgame -- until Rodgers made that clutch throw on fourth down. He finished with 108 yards passing, but also accounted for one rushing and one passing touchdown.

What NC State learned: First-year coach Dave Doeren has a lot of work to do in his first season. The Wolfpack were outplayed in all three phases of the game, and recruiting will obviously be a priority. NC State went 0-2 against the SEC this year, including a loss to a 5-7 Tennessee team in the season opener. The Tom O'Brien era is officially over, as interim coach and former offensive coordinator Dana Bible's career at NC State came to an end.

What Vanderbilt learned: The program has reached another milestone. The Music City Bowl win equaled the team’s single-season record of nine victories, set in 1904 and matched in 1915. Vandy extended its winning streak to seven games, the program’s longest in three decades.

What it means: Vandy is no longer a pushover and one of the few SEC teams the ACC can actually beat. The SEC continues its stranglehold on the ACC. The ACC dropped to 1-2 in its bowl games.
NC State Wolfpack (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4)

Dec. 31, Noon ET, Nashville, Tenn. (ESPN)

NC State take from ACC blogger Heather Dinich: It was a wild, unpredictable season for NC State that ended in the firing of former coach Tom O’Brien just one day after the regular season had ended. Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will coach the Wolfpack in its bowl game, but former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren was hired on Saturday to replace O’Brien.

NC State began the season with a disappointing loss to Tennessee in which weaknesses in the highly touted secondary were immediately exposed. The Pack went on to win its next three games, but lost the ACC season opener against Miami. In typical inexplicable NC State fashion, the Pack responded the following week by knocking off then-No. 3 Florida State in what was one of the biggest upsets in program history. It was a shocking fourth quarter that resonated throughout all of college football and all but ended the Seminoles’ hopes of playing for a national title. Despite the 17-16 win over FSU, though, NC State couldn’t translate that upset into anything meaningful in the Atlantic Division standings (a major reason O’Brien was fired).

Instead, NC State suffered its first loss in five seasons to rival North Carolina and was embarrassed at home in a baffling loss to a struggling Virginia team. NC State rallied to win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible, but it wasn’t enough to save O’Brien’s job. Doeren, who led Northern Illinois to its second straight MAC championship on Friday night, will not coach his former team in the Discover Orange Bowl.




Vanderbilt take from SEC blogger Chris Low: Counting up all the firsts this season for Vanderbilt would take a while.

James Franklin, in his second season as coach, has come in and taken this program to heights that few people thought possible. Their Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl matchup with NC State will be the Commodores' second straight bowl appearance. It’s the first time in school history that the Commodores have gone to bowl games in back-to-back years. Their eight wins in the regular season are their most since 1982, and their five SEC wins are their most since 1935. They enter the postseason on a six-game winning streak, and probably the best news for the Commodores is that they’ve locked up Franklin to a new contract. The university announced on Sunday that Franklin had agreed to a new deal, which will include enhancements to the football complex and Vanderbilt Stadium.

Franklin’s phone has rung a bunch ever since the season ended with other schools inquiring about his interest, but the Commodores have convinced him that they’re serious about building a winning football program. Franklin has assembled an excellent staff, which is reflected in the Commodores’ discipline and their mental toughness. They’re ranked 17th nationally in total defense, the second straight season that defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has field a top-20 defense nationally. Only four times this season did a team score more than 21 points against Vanderbilt.

Offensively, senior Zac Stacy went over the 1,000-yard mark rushing for the second straight season, and the receiving combo of Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd combined for more than 2,000 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

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