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.