2008 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Preview
Boston College (9-4, 5-3 ACC) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6, 4-4 SEC)
December 31st, 2008 @ 3:30 PM (EST) – ESPN – Nashville, Tennessee
The Music City Bowl features an SEC-ACC matchup for the third consecutive year and is one of two New Year’s Eve matchups between the conferences. The ACC finished the regular season on a high note against their southeastern rivals, including wins by Georgia Tech over Georgia, Clemson over South Carolina, and Wake Forest over Vanderbilt in the final weekend.
Vanderbilt was one of the early media darlings, jumping out to a 5-0 record on the strength of a stingy defense and a lot of turnovers. The highlight of their season was definitely a 14-13 win over a ranked Auburn team with ESPN’s College Gameday in attendance. However, the Commodores entered a freefall immediately thereafter and lost six of their last seven bowl games to limp into the postseason. The Commodores are pretty poor offensively and barely average 250 yards of offense per game. Their stellar defense has also fallen off lately; in the season’s first half they didn’t allow a single team to score more than 21 points while in the second half, only one team didn’t score more than 20 points.
Boston College was a big surprise this season. The Eagles had to deal with a lot of losses from last year’s division champions, including four year starting quarterback Matt Ryan. However, BC exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations by returning to the ACC Title Game. Unfortunately, the Eagles also matched last season’s group by losing to Virginia Tech in the ACC Title Game for the second consecutive season. The Eagles have won four of their last five games but will go into the bowl game without starting quarterback Chris Crane, who is out with an injury. Freshman Dominique Davis played well in Crane’s absence though so BC should still be effective on offense. The Eagles are also very solid defensively, having allowed only 18.5 points per game this year.
Vanderbilt will enjoy a solid home field advantage in this game since their campus is only a few miles away from the Adelphia Coliseum, the site of the game. However, Boston College has all of the advantages on the field. The Eagles are stronger on offense even without Crane and their defense has been much stronger in the season’s latter half. Furthermore, Boston College comes into this game with four wins in their last five while Vanderbilt only has one win since early October. Finally, this will be Vanderbilt’s first bowl game in decades and there will definitely be a sense that they’re ‘just happy to be there’. Look at Indiana last season, a similar team to Vanderbilt, who was blown out in their bowl matchup after gearing their whole year towards earning bowl eligibility. I expect Boston College to stifle Vanderbilt’s weak offense and their offense is going to score enough to win this game handily. Boston College will defeat Vanderbilt and earn their tenth win for the third consecutive season.
Music City Bowl Pick: Boston College 24 - Vanderbilt 10
by Matt Baxendell
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