Independence Bowl Pick

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Independence Bowl Pick

Vanderbilt

vs.

NC State

12/26/16

In the middle of the season, neither of these teams looked headed for a bowl Game, but after some nice wins, both have looked deserving. Surprisingly, it’s the ACC team that is favored over an SEC school in the Independence Bowl with NC State an early -4.5 point favorite against Vanderbilt as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The Wolfpack started the season strong at 4-1 with wins over Wake Forest and Notre Dame, but the downfall began after losing to Clemson, a Game in which they should’ve won. Four straight losses ensued, which meant they needed to win two of their final three Games. That’s exactly what happened with a road win at North Carolina possibly their most impressive result of the season in the finale.

The Commodores were kind of in the same situation, but technically only needed five wins because they were at the top of the Academic Progress list. But sort of out of nowhere, they closed the year with back-to-back wins against Ole Miss and Tennessee, each by double digits. The ‘Dores had six wins, but they fought in almost every contest, which should be the case here.

The biggest thing coming into this Game is that Vandy’s offense came to life in the final two contests, scoring 83 points. That’s a big leap after having trouble reaching 20 points in most SEC Games all year. A lot of that was due to sophomore quarterback Kyle Shurmur having his first two-touchdown Games, as well as huge yardage totals. He threw for 416 yards against the Volunteers in the finale after not surpassing 280 yards in any previous Game. Running back Ralph Webb has been their bright spot all season and that was the case in the last two Games, going for 237 yards and five touchdowns.

The overall numbers don’t look great for Vandy, but those final two Games tell a different story and could play a big part against NC State. The Wolfpack had a solid season defensively, only allowing 30-plus points to two teams, East Carolina and Louisville. Other than that, they usually kept the Scorelow, especially in ACC Games. Their pass defense wasn’t great yardage wise and if Shurmur can continue what he showed in the last two Games, that could be the difference.

On the other side, Vanderbilt was supposed to have an elite defense, but that never showed up. The Commodores were in lower scoring Games early in the year, but then slipped up at the end and it took great offensive efforts to get wins.

Similar to the Vandy offense, there’s nothing special about the Wolfpack. Quarterback Ryan Finley has just two passing touchdowns in the last Four Games. He finished with 15 TDs and 8 INTs, but nine of those touchdowns came in the first Four Games. They’ll want to run the ball plenty behind Matthew Dayes, who has reached 100 yards in three of the last Four Games.

Both teams are extremely similar, but NC State has a slight advantage on the defensive side which is why they are favored. But will that be enough for the Wolfpack to cover?

The Wolfpack are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 non-Conference Games and 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight bowl Games, but haven’t covered in their last five vs. the SEC. The Commodores don’t have many trends outside of the under hitting 18-6-2 in their last 26 overall.

Our Pick – Over the course of the 2nd half of the season, Vanderbilt was the hotter team as NC State dropped 5 of their last 7 Games. We’ll call for the upset here as Vandy wins straight up making the points a bonus. Vandy +4.5

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