Vanderbilt makes its third straight in-state bowl appearance while North Carolina State makes its Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl debut when the teams meet on New Year’s Eve at LP Field (11 a.m., ESPN). Vanderbilt topped the only meeting between the schools, winning 7-0 in 1946.
Here is a look at the top five storylines surrounding the 15th Music City Bowl.
• Quarterback play: Aside from Whit Taylor’s phenomenal performance in the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl, Vanderbilt quarterbacks have been atrocious in bowl games.
Taylor threw for 452 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to Air Force. In the school’s four other bowl appearances, eight quarterbacks have combined for just two touchdowns, four interceptions and 443 yards.
Senior Jordan Rodgers can’t regress like last year. He had the worst performance of his career in the Liberty Bowl. He completed just four of 14 passes for 26 yards with an interception and was pulled for Larry Smith.
On the other side, North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon is making his bowl debut in his final college game. The grad student has thrown 30 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has tabbed the 6-foot-6, 232-pound Glennon as the best quarterback available in the 2013 draft.
• Franklin-Yow reunion: Debbie Yow saw in James Franklin what Vanderbilt fans now realize — potential.
Yow, then the athletics director at Maryland, locked up Franklin when she named the young offensive coordinator the successor to then-Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen. The move never came to fruition.
Yow left in June 2010 to become N.C. State’s athletics director. Four months later, Franklin took the job at Vanderbilt. The two have remained good friends and frequently text. When Yow fired football coach Tom O’Brien last month, she said Franklin was not a candidate, stating, “He is in the midst of doing something special there.”
Vanderbilt athletics director David Williams agrees and for the second straight year gave Franklin a contract extension. Yow, the sister of late N.C. State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow, has hired Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren as the program’s next head coach. Interim coach Dana Bible will lead the Wolfpack into the Music City Bowl.
• Brother vs. brother: The conclusion of the Music City Bowl is guaranteed to deliver a bittersweet moment for Esther Norman and Warren Norman Sr. They’ll be celebrating with one son while consoling another.
Their eldest son, Warren Jr., is a running back at Vanderbilt, while their youngest child, Art, is a defensive end at N.C. State. The former teammates at Chamblee High School in Georgia have experienced different college careers.
Warren, a fourth-year junior, burst onto the scene in 2009 and was the SEC Freshman of the Year. But he battled through an injury-riddled 2010 season that spilled over into 2011 when he redshirted due to knee injuries. He has been used sparingly this season, rushing for 75 yards and a touchdown in eight games.
Art has emerged as one of the Wolfpack’s top pass rushers after redshirting his freshman season in 2010. He led the team with seven sacks in eight starts last year and has 5.5 sacks this season.
• Beating a winner: For all that James Franklin has accomplished in two years at Vanderbilt, he has yet to knock off a winner. Under Franklin, the Commodores are 0-10 against teams that finished or currently have winning records.
Vanderbilt and Franklin have feasted on inferior programs, with a 13-1 record against teams with losing records.
With a 7-5 record, N.C. State is guaranteed a winning season whether they triumph or lose in the Music City Bowl. It would be a significant step if the Commodores can beat the Wolfpack and end the season on a seven-game win streak, which would be the program’s longest since winning eight in a row in 1948.
Vanderbilt last defeated a team with a winning record when it held off Boston College for a 16-14 victory in the 2008 Music City Bowl.
• Amerson vs. Matthews: David Amerson’s record-setting season seems like so long ago, yet it was just last year.
The N.C. State cornerback became an opposing quarterback’s worst nightmare when he intercepted 13 passes — an ACC record and the most in the NCAA since 1968 — during an All-American sophomore campaign.
He is tied for the most picks in the league with five this year, but he isn’t the same threat. That was evident in the season opener when Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray burned him twice for long touchdowns as Amerson let receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Zach Rogers get behind him.
Amerson was even worse against Miami as the Hurricanes picked on him for four touchdowns.
No longer a guaranteed first-round pick in this April’s NFL Draft, Amerson hasn’t decided if he’ll leave early or come back for his senior season.
He’ll have a chance to make a bold statement if he can shut down Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews. The 6-foot-3 junior hauled in seven touchdowns this season and broke the single-season record with 1,262 receiving yards. He needs 10 catches to tie the school record of 97 set by Keith Edwards in 1983.
Matthews also hasn’t decided if he’ll be back for his senior season. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Matthews could go as high as the second round this draft if he runs well at NFL workouts.
North Carolina State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt
Dec. 31, 11 a.m., ESPN, LP Field
• Limited tickets available in upper level section for $17 and $39
• To purchase tickets go online at ticketmaster.com or the LP Field box office will be open at 8 a.m. on the day of the game.
N.C. State – Dana Bible 0-0 (interim head coach)
Vanderbilt – James Franklin 14-11 (two years)
N.C. State — Mike Glennon, 3,648 yards, 30 TDs, 14 INTs
Vanderbilt — Jordan Rodgers, 2,431 yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTs
N.C. State — Shadrach Thornton, 655 yards, 3 TDs
Vanderbilt — Zac Stacy, 1,034 rushing yards, 9 TDs
N.C. State — Quintin Payton, 48 catches, 761 yards, 2 TDs
Vanderbilt — Jordan Matthews, 87 catches, 1,262 yards, 7 TDs
N.C. State — Earl Wolff, 110 tackles, 2 INTs and 1 forced fumble
Vanderbilt — Kenny Ladler 80 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble; Javon Marshall, 80 tackles, 2 forced fumbles