NC State of the ACC and Vanderbilt of the SEC square off in Shreveport, Louisiana for the 2016 Camping World Independence Bowl.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack had an up and down season, but finished at 6-6. They beat their rival, North Carolina, to become bowl eligible, but also beat Old Dominion and Wake Forest, who are bowl teams. Their one bad loss is to East Carolina, which came early in the season.
Ryan Finley, the Boise State transfer, is the quarterback for NC State. He had a solid sophomore season with 2,820 yards and 15 touchdowns, with eight interceptions. Seven of his interceptions came during Wolfpack’s four game losing streak, so protecting the football has to be a priority.
Finley has five different targets with over 400 yards receiving, making it hard for defenses to lock in on one target. Stephen Louis leads the team in receiving yards with 657 and is also the team’s big play threat with 19.9 yards per reception. Kelvin Harmon leads the team in receiving touchdowns with five. The six foot three freshman receiver is hard to cover in the red zone.
Running back Matthew Dayes, is a player that is loved by a lot of NFL scouts. He has 1,119 rushing yards this season and 10 rushing touchdowns. He has been a workhorse for the Wolfpack with 240 carries on the season. With eight games of 100 rushing yards or more, Dayes will be the focal point of stopping the NC State offense.
The run defense of NC State has been elite. They allow just 105 rushing yards per game, which ranks sixth in the country. Unfortunately the pass defense is bad, at 251 yards given up per game.
Bradley Chubb has been the key player on the defensive line with 9.5 sacks. He may not get a lot of opportunities for sacks against Vanderbilt, so will have to be solid at stopping the run. Defensive Back Josh Jones has sixty solo tackles on the season.
The Commodores had an up and down season, beating good teams and just reaching 6-6. They only lost to one team that wasn’t bowl eligible, which was a game at Missouri. Their quality wins include: Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and Georgia.
Kyle Shurmur has been tasked with managing the offense. He hasn’t had a great season with nine touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He has also only thrown for 2,259 passing yards also.
Shurmur has three receivers with over 400 yards receiving yards. Trent Sheffield leads the team with 448 receiving yards, but only has one receiving touchdown.
Running back Ralph Webb is a great player, who doesn’t always get the most support. He finished the season with 1,172 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. This is impressive because most teams will stack the box to stop Webb.
The Commodore rush defense is average, allowing 165 rushing yards per game. The pass defense of Vanderbilt isn’t good and gives up 245 yards through the air per game.
Linebacker Zach Cunningham had one of the best seasons for a defender in the FBS. He finished with 119 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He also has one of the highlights of the college football season, when he blocked an auburn field goal by jumping over the line of scrimmage.
This game is the definition of a toss up. The player that is the most trust-worthy is Zach Cunningham. He will make a play to change the momentum for the Commodores and Ralph Webb will help the offense score just enough points to win the game.
Vanderbilt Commodores 21 North Carolina State Wolfpack 19