ACC: Zac Stacy

Music City Bowl keys

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
9:30
AM ET
Here are three keys for NC State against Vanderbilt in today’s Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (noon ET, ESPN):

1. Ignore the intangibles. This could be an emotional game for interim coach Dana Bible, who is working his first game as a head coach also knowing it will be his last at NC State. New coach Dave Doeren has already taken over and hired a new offensive coordinator and most of his staff, but Bible, a longtime friend of former Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien, was tasked with coaching the bowl game. NC State also has to face a Vandy team which will essentially be playing in its own backyard. NC State and its coaches have to stay focused despite the awkward intangibles involved.

2. Win on third downs. Vanderbilt’s defense has been stingy this year, particularly on third downs. The Commodores are No. 12 in the country in third-down conversion defense, holding opponents to 30.9 percent. NC State, meanwhile has struggled on third downs this season, ranking No. 74 with a 38.9 percent conversion rate. The Pack has to be able to sustain drives against a unit that finished the regular season ranked among the top 20 in the nation in scoring defense, total defense and pass defense. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon is going to have to be sharp.

3. Stop the run. In each of NC State’s past three losses, the Wolfpack allowed more than 200 rushing yards. The Pack’s rushing defense has been average at best this year, and Vandy will present another challenge. All-SEC running back and school career rushing leader Zac Stacy finished fifth in the league with 1,034 rushing yards.

Pregame: Music City Bowl

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
9:00
AM ET
NC State (7-5, 4-4 ACC) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4, 5-3 SEC)

WHO TO WATCH: NC State quarterback Mike Glennon. He is a legitimate pro prospect who finished first in the ACC in passing yards per game (304) and second in total offense (292 yards per game). He was clutch in the fourth quarter of a dramatic upset of then-No. 3 Florida State during the regular season. He threw for 30 touchdowns this season and 14 interceptions. Vandy’s defense, though, has allowed just six passing touchdowns and an average of 175.8 passing yards to rank in the top 10 nationally in each category.

WHAT TO WATCH: NC State’s rushing defense against Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy. In conference play, All-SEC running back and school career rushing leader Stacy finished fifth in the league with 1,034 rushing yards. The Commodores ranked 53rd nationally with an average of 170.4 rushing yards per game. NC State’s rushing defense has been average this year, allowing 157.9 yards per game.

WHY TO WATCH: Vandy is on a hot streak under second-year coach James Franklin. The Commodores are riding a six-game winning streak, the program’s longest in three decades, and this is the first time in school history that Vanderbilt will make back-to-back postseason appearances. A win in the Music City Bowl would equal the team’s single-season record of nine victories, set in 1904 and matched in 1915. For NC State, it’s the last game with the Wolfpack for offensive coordinator/interim coach Dana Bible, who replaced good friend Tom O’Brien. O’Brien was fired at the end of the season and replaced by Dave Doeren of Northern Illinois.

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 24, NC State 17: The Commodores’ defense will be the difference. Vanderbilt ranks No. 17 in the country in total defense, No. 15 in points allowed and No. 10 in passing defense. Vandy will fluster Glennon into making some mistakes, and a turnover or two will be the difference.
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.

Vandy rolls to sixth straight win

November, 24, 2012
11/24/12
7:05
PM ET
Vanderbilt 55 Wake Forest 21: Remember back to Oct. 13, when Florida had just dropped Vanderbilt to 2-4 and bowl eligibility seemed like a fantasy?

Neither do the Commodores. Don't look now, but since they were left for dead in mid-October, the 'Dores have reeled off six straight wins and have just finished the regular season at 8-4 -- their best regular season record since 1982.

The latest victim on Vanderbilt's roll through November was an overmatched Wake Forest squad hoping to reach bowl eligibility in its own right. The Commodores cruised to a 28-7 halftime lead behind a 14-of-17, 211-yard first half performance from quarterback Jordan Rodgers, who threw two touchdowns on the day. When Rodgers wasn't winging it around, senior tailback Zac Stacy put in a workmanlike 89 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. That would have been a solid outing on its own, but Stacy put an exclamation point on his career with a 90-yard fourth quarter touchdown scamper to give him 180 yards and two scores on the day.

The Demon Deacons entered the game determined to move the ball on the ground, but they found no such luck. Wake Forest rushed 44 times for a mere 128 yards

The final nail went into Wake Forest's coffin just one minute into the third quarter, when Vanderbilt blocked a punt on the first series of the half and recovered it for a Commodore touchdown. The win was a cap to what has been a stunning run through the final six weeks of the regular season. The 'Dores have blown through November in every kind of fashion -- whether it was a close stand to hold off Auburn in October, a furious comeback to stun Ole Miss two weeks ago or any number of blowouts against the likes of Massachusetts, Kentucky or Tennessee.

Wrapping up ACC afternoon games

November, 26, 2011
11/26/11
8:10
PM ET
A few final thoughts on two more of the ACC's earlier games:

Final: UNC 37, Duke 21: Another eight-win season could be in store for North Carolina, despite the firing of former coach Butch Davis just days before summer practices began. Duke's defense couldn't stop running back Giovani Bernard or receiver Dwight Jones, and its offense couldn't overcome four turnovers. North Carolina was the more physical team and paved the way for Bernard to rack up 100 yards by halftime. UNC finished with 508 total yards; Bernard accounted for 222 of them. Duke ended the season with seven consecutive losses -- nowhere near where the program needed to be for bowl eligibility in the fourth season under David Cutcliffe.

Final: Vanderbilt 41, Wake Forest 7: Vandy was playing for bowl eligibility, and the Deacs couldn't stop them from it. Wake Forest had no answer for Zac Stacy, who ran for 184 yards and three touchdowns, including a 40-yard touchdown score in the fourth quarter. It was an impressive season for the Deacs, who had a chance to win the Atlantic Division title against Clemson earlier this month, but they faded down the stretch and lost four of their final five. There were plenty of close losses on Wake's schedule, but Vanderbilt left no doubt it was the better team. Fortunately for the Deacs, they earned their bowl eligibility a week ago against Maryland.

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