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Resilient Commodores going bowling

To go on the road and beat Wake Forest as convincingly as Vanderbilt did Saturday in a 41-7 rout speaks for itself.

But it also tells you a lot about the makeup of this team coming off such a bitter loss the week before.

Instead of wallowing in their sorrow over the 27-21 overtime loss to Tennessee, the Commodores went out and did something about it, putting together their most complete performance of the season and qualifying for a bowl game for only the fifth time in school history.

It's another clear indication that first-year coach James Franklin has this program headed in the right direction. Closes losses obviously don't count. But when you go back and look at what the Commodores' record could be had they gotten just a few bounces this season, they could easily be sitting here right now at 8-4 or even 9-3.

The defense was supposed to be pretty good this season. The Commodores had several veterans returning at key spots, and they performed at a very high level. But what jumps out at you about this team is its offensive improvement.

Junior running back Zac Stacy lit up the Deacons for 184 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and in the process, became the Commodores' single-season rushing leader. He now has 1,136 rushing yards going into the bowl game, breaking the previous school record of 1,103 yards, which was set by Corey Harris in 1991.

Stacy is the first Vanderbilt player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season since Jermaine Johnson in 1995.

He's had a fantastic season, no doubt. But Jordan Rodgers' emergence at quarterback and his ability to hit big plays down the field has opened up a lot of things for the Commodores, and let's also not forget the offensive line. Vanderbilt has improved immensely up front from where it was to start the season.