The School: North Carolina State University
Record: 6-6 (3-5 ACC). Terrible kicking prevented NC State from beating Clemson on the road, and they parlayed that momentum into a 41-point destruction at Louisville. Otherwise, it’s a remarkably unremarkable season. They lost to Boston College, which is a good sign since the Eagles are basically just Catholic Vanderbilt.
Ranking: Unranked in the AP Top 25 and Coaches' Poll. The formulas have NC State rated 46th in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings. Sagarin has Vandy at 56 and both teams behind North Dakota State and James Madison, which honestly feels about right.
Mascot: The Wolfpack. You know what? I respect that. Not just a lone wolf. Not wolves. The whole entire pack, from omega to alpha is coming at you. By the end of the night, Kyle Shurmur will stand alone, broken airplane bottles strapped to his knuckles, horrified to find he’s stumbled into Mr. (and Mrs.) Wuf’s lair.
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina. The state capital you only think of once someone tells you “Charlotte” is incorrect.
Coach: Dave Doeren, who turned two MAC championships into a Power 5 gig and, according to his profile photo, is seven feet wide.
Dave Doeren is his own offensive line.
Conference: The Atlantic Coast Conference. What the SEC would be if deep south rednecks cared about basketball.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 0-2. Haaaaaaaaaah.
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 0-1
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: James Franklin won his first-ever bowl game as an NCAA head coach. Current Bachelorette champion Jordan Rodgers claimed victory over future Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Mike Glennon in a 38-24 rout.
Vanderbilt fans across the country tried to figure out how to process the team’s first bowl win since the 1980s that didn’t feature a punter winning MVP.
Do They Run the Triple Option?: Nope. Everything pretty much runs through Matthew Dayes, who basically looks like palette-swapped Ralph Webb,
Is Vandy Favored?: Despite scoring 83 points on SEC opponents their last two games, the Commodores are a four-point underdog.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Sophomore Ryan Finley has four games this season where he’s thrown for 300 yards or more against ACC opponents. The Wolfpack only went 2-2 in those games, but Finley has proven he can be the backbone of a perfectly cromulent offense. He’s expected to play Monday despite suffering a head injury late in the season.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Safety Josh Jones tackles pretty much anything that roams into his field of vision, but junior defensive end Bradley Chubb can continue his family’s rich tradition of beating up on Vanderbilt by adding his 21st, 22nd, and 23rd tackles for loss in the Independence Bowl.
Matchup to Watch: The Vanderbilt offensive line against Chubb. The Commodores’ blocking improved by leaps and bounds late in the season as Vandy’s offense went from hopeless to explosive, but Chubb is one of the most powerful pass rushers they’ll have faced all year. If Chubb can scare Kyle Shurmur back into his early season form this will be a tedious experience in otherwise lovely Shreveport.
Interesting Fact: A win Monday would be the first piece of positive, non-basketball related news for the state of North Carolina since 2015.
If NC State wins, we: just put this on repeat until February.