The 2012 Music City Bowl pits the Vanderbilt Commodores against the North Carolina State Wolfpack and will once again showcase why the Southeastern Conference is considered the best in the country.
Three of the Commodores' four losses in 2012 have been to SEC foes that are ranked in the Top 10 in the nation through the regular season. The loss to Georgia was a blowout, but Vanderbilt legitimately competed against No. 3 Florida and 10th-ranked South Carolina.
The only other loss was to the Northwestern Wildcats, who were a few plays away from getting a shot at the Big 10 title. After four defeats in the first six games, the Commodores have been on a roll.
Vanderbilt is on a six-game winning streak and quietly sports the 14th-ranked scoring defense in the nation. That should pose problems for Wolfpack QB Mike Glennon, although he has been particularly impressive as of late. Against Clemson, Glennon put on a show, throwing for 493 yards and five TDs in a 63-48 loss.
That makes 10 touchdown passes in Glennon's past three games, but this is easily the toughest defense that NC State has faced all year.
Another factor that works heavily into Vandy's favor: This game is being played in Nashville, which essentially makes it a home game for the Commodores. A swarming top-10 pass defense and a raucous crowd will be a lot for Glennon to negotiate.
Commodores CB Trey Wilson shared his thoughts—and reflected plenty of confidence—on the Wolfpack signal-caller, as documented by The Tennessean's Jeff Lockridge:
“Glennon has a real nice arm on him. I would put him a very close second, in terms of arm strength, behind [Tennessee Volunteers QB Tyler] Bray. They take some chances, with Glennon being able to make the throws that he can. I want to see how many chances they are going to take with us.
As talented as Glennon is, he is susceptible to turning the ball over, throwing 14 interceptions to go against 30 touchdowns.
His counterpart Jordan Rodgers has been playing some strong football as of late in his own right. The brother of reigning NFL MVP Aaron, the Commodores' own Mr. Rodgers has thrown two touchdown passes in each of his past five games.
Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd are two massive targets at Rodgers' disposal on the outside and should give the Wolfpack's 94th-ranked pass defense (h/t NCAA.com) serious problems.
Whereas the NC State offense is much more reliant on Glennon's arm, Vandy has a balanced attack largely thanks to senior RB Zac Stacy, who has run for over 1000 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012.
Here is another nugget: The Commodores recently beat the Tennessee Volunteers 41-18—the same Vols team that soundly beat NC State in the opener.
It's typically not responsible to daisy chain games together, but it's appropriate in this context. The Vols are from the SEC and serve as the only common opponent between these two teams set to do battle on Monday afternoon. Bray is another talented QB, and the Commodores held him to a measly 11-for-29 passing for just 103 yards, one TD and two INTs.
SEC supremacy will be on display once again, as NC State will be over-matched in a de facto road contest against the underrated Commodores.