Vanderbilt to play NC State in the Independence Bowl


Ziyi Liu

Taurean Ferguson (3) celebrates a fumble as Vanderbilt beat #17 Tennessee 45-34 at Vanderbilt Stadium November 26, 2016. Photo by Ziyi Liu.

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

The Vanderbilt Commodores will take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on December 26.

This is Vanderbilt’s eighth bowl appearance in team history, and its first in the Independence Bowl. It’s also head coach Derek Mason’s first bowl appearance with Vanderbilt. The Commodores clinched a berth in a bowl game with a 45-34 win over rival Tennessee last Saturday.

With a bowl bid, the Commodores will cap a 6-6 regular season in which they won four of their last six games. Three of those four wins came against preseason AP Top 25 teams (Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee).

“Vanderbilt is pleased and very excited to accept an invitation to play in the upcoming Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport on Dec. 26,” Vanderbilt Athletics Director David Williams II said in a press release. “Vanderbilt University is proud that our football program will be making its first postseason appearance under Derek Mason. We will work extremely hard to make the bowl a very successful event in every way. We are looking forward to playing a tremendous opponent in NC State.”

Their opponents, the Wolfpack, went 6-6 in the regular season as well. NC State started the season 4-1 but lost five of its last seven games and had to upset rival North Carolina in order to become bowl-eligible.

This Independence Bowl showdown is a rematch of the 2012 Music City Bowl. The Commodores would win that one by a final score of 38-24.

Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers threw for 108 yards and two touchdowns, including one to future NFL wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Future NFL running back Zac Stacy also ran for 107 yards and a touchdown. The Commodores picked off future NFL backup Mike Glennon three times on the day.

Vanderbilt is unbeaten against NC State all-time in just two meetings. Their first, prior to the Music City bowl, was a 7-0 victory for the Commodores on November 9, 1946.

Vanderbilt’s last bowl appearance came in the 2013 season when it played in the BBVA Compass Bowl (now the Birmingham Bowl). In James Franklin’s final game as head coach of the Commodores, his team took care of business against Houston, winning 41-24 behind two touchdowns on 143 yards of receiving by Jordan Matthews.

The Commodores made their first bowl game in 1955 when they beat Auburn 25-13 in the Gator Bowl. Following the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl, Vanderbilt would not make another bowl game until 2008, when a six-win Commodore team upset Boston College 16-14 in the Music City Bowl. Punter Brett Upson was the MVP of that game for a third-quarter punt that deflected off the Boston College returner and rolled into the end zone, where Vanderbilt recovered for a go-ahead touchdown.

The Camping World Independence Bowl kicks off at 4 p.m. central time from Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana, on ESPN2.

More to come later.