Vanderbilt vs. NC State Prediction, Independence Bowl Preview

    Vanderbilt vs. NC State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the Independence Bowl matchup between the Commodores and Wolfpack.

    December 5, 2016

    Vanderbilt vs. NC State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the Independence Bowl matchup between the Commodores and Wolfpack.


    Vanderbilt vs. NC State Game Preview

    When: Monday, December 26 – 5:00 p.m. ET
    Where: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
    TV Broadcast: ESPN2

    Vanderbilt rallied down the stretch, including a upset win over in-state rival Tennessee to make a bowl game for the first time in Derek Mason’s tenure. The Wolfpack also used an upset to become bowl eligible, defeating North Carolina 28-21 in the regular season finale.

    What To Know About Vanderbilt

    Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur has improved as the year has gone on, but the offense begins and ends with running back Ralph Webb, who leads the team with 1,172 yards and 12 touchdowns. Shurmur has passed for 2,251 yards, but when this offense is effective, it is due to Webb moving the chains and controlling time of possession with his legs.

    The defense is led by linebacker Zach Cunningham, who has been a monster all season long, recording 119 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss. Making sure he doesn’t disrupt the offense and create chaos in the backfield will be key for the Wolfpack.

    What to Know About NC State

    One week after the Wolfpack dropped a 27-13 contest to Miami at home in a game that featured their strong run defense faltering in the second half, Doeren and Co. became eligible for the postseason with the road win over the Tar Heels. It was a big victory not just because of the postseason but also because NC State had struggled throughout the year closing out games. This is a team whose record should be better than 6-6. Matt Dayes remains a bit under the radar after becoming the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2002. But mistakes have doomed the Wolfpack, and quarterback Ryan Finley needs to play much cleaner games because this offense is too talented to stub its collective toes.

    Advantages

    Offense: NC State. The Commodores rely too much on Webb to move the chains.

    Defense: Vanderbilt. How good is Cunningham? He should be considered for the SEC Player of the Year.

    Special Teams: Vanderbilt. Tommy Openshaw is perfect on point after attempts this season.

    Coaching: Vanderbilt. Derek Mason has the Commodores playing great football.

    Intangibles: Vanderbilt. Bowl opportunities do not come often for Vandy, so they take every chance they can get.

    Matchup To Watch

    Ralph Webb vs. NC State defense

    The Wolfpack allow just 104.67 yards per game on the ground.

    Vanderbilt vs. NC State Betting Odds

    Spread: Not available at time of publication.
    Over/Under: Not available at time of publication.

    Vanderbilt vs. NC State Prediction

    The Wolfpack are good, but the Commodores have been a team on a mission in the last part of the season. Playing in their first bowl game since Mason took over, the Commodores will be hyped and be able to shut down the Wolfpack offense as Cunningham makes another impression for NFL scouts.

    Vanderbilt vs. NC State Score Prediction: Vanderbilt 23, NC State 20

    Campus Insiders Staff Picks

    Brian Stultz: Vanderbilt
    Jeff Bartl: Vanderbilt
    Rich Cirminiello: Vanderbilt
    Robert Judin: NC State
    Pete Fiutak: NC State

    MORE: Final Top 25 College Football Playoff Rankings For 2016

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