2008 Music City Bowl Preview - BC vs. Vandy
BC's Mark Herzlich & Vandy's Reshard Langford
BC's Mark Herzlich & Vandy's Reshard Langford
Posted Dec 29, 2008

Boston College vs. Vanderbilt - The 2008 Music City Bowl Preview & Prediction

2008 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl

Boston College (9-4) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)

Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Payout: Not Available   Location: LP Field, Nashville TN

By Richard Cirminiello 

- 2008 Music City Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

National Rankings
Vanderbilt Boston College
Total Offense
117th  296.92 ypg 95th  318.46 ypg
Total Defense
29th  318.67 ypg 6th  273.38 ypg
Scoring Offense
104th  19.42 ppg 61st  25.54 ppg
Scoring Defense
27th  20.08 ppg 19th  18.54 ppg
Run Offense
69th  138.17 ypg 64th  143 ypg
Run Defense
68th  145 ypg 7th  92.15 ypg
Pass Offense
112th  122.75ypg 95th  318.46 ypg
Pass Defense
18th  173.67 ypg 24th  181.23 ypg
Turnover Margin
27th  0.50 30th  0.46
at Miami U. W 34-13
So Carolina W 24-17
Rice W 38-21
at Ole Miss W 23-17
Auburn W 14-13
at Miss St L 17-14
at Georgia L 24-14
Duke L 10-7
Florida L 42-14
at Kentucky W 31-24
Tennessee L 20-10
at Wake F L 23-10
Boston College
at Kent St W 21-0
Ga Tech L 19-16
UCF W 34-7
Rhode Isl W 42-0
at NC St W 38-31
Va Tech W 28-23
at UNC L 45-24
Clemson L 27-21
Notre Dame W 17-0
at Fla St W 27-17
at Wake F W 24-21
Maryland W 28-21
ACC Champ
Va Tech L 30-12
Position Ratings
relative to each other
V 5 highest
1 lowest
3 Quarterbacks 2.5
3 RBs 3
2.5 Receivers 3
3 O Line 4
3 D Line 5
3 Linebackers 4.5
5 Secondary 5
3 Spec Teams 2.5
4 Coaching 4

Although it got a little dicey during a four-game, midseason losing streak, Vanderbilt has ended its 26-year bowl drought. Finally.

After starting 5-0 and even climbing up to No. 13 in the polls, the Commodores reverted back to old form and darn near fumbled their chance for the postseason. That sinking feeling permeated throughout Nashville until the ‘Dores finally broke through on Nov. 15 with a 31-24 win over Kentucky. The city let out a collective sigh of relief. Now matter how it got there or who it faces, this invitation is a monumental step for a program that’s spent a generation searching for momentum and some positive results. While not a particularly sexy team, Bobby Johnson’s kids play fundamentally sound, limit their mistakes, and are disciplined on defense. It’s that combination which kept Vandy in just about every game, even when it was losing.

Vanderbilt last bowled in 1982. Since then, Boston College has won 12 postseason games, including all eight this century. The Eagles will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game for a second straight year. After coming so close to a signature appearance in the Orange Bowl, the school might be prone to a letdown. Don’t bank on it. It proved to have a short memory under Jeff Jagodzinski last December, getting past Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl. Coach Jags impressed in his second season in Chestnut Hill, leading a BC team that was supposed to be rebuilding to nine wins, including four down the stretch over Notre Dame, Florida State, Wake Forest, and Maryland in a sprint to the ACC Atlantic crown. Since senior Chris Crane is done with a broken collarbone, the staff has been getting a long look at its quarterback of the future, redshirt freshman Dominique Davis. Regardless of what happens in Nashville, being the starter for the last month will pay enormous dividends in 2009.   

Players to watch: Davis versus the Vandy pass defense is bad news for BC, so it’ll lean more heavily on Montel Harris and the ground game. Already the school record-holder for rushing yards by a freshman, he was instrumental in the Eagles’ drive toward a division title. Before getting stuffed by Virginia Tech, he’d gone over 100 yards in three of the prior four games, and is within a career-day of 1,000 yards. Most of Boston College’s newsmakers, however, are on the defensive side of the ball. LB Mark Herzlich was a beast in his junior year, racking up a team-high 105 tackles and six of the Eagles’ 26 interceptions. If there’s a big play happening, rest assured that No. 94 won’t be far from the action. Manning the middle of the line will be B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, neither of whom is easy to move off his base. Considering that they’re 112th nationally in passing, the Commodores must somehow find a way to move the ball on the ground with beefy Jared Hawkins against the country’s No. 7 run defense.   

Much like its New Year’s Eve dance partner, Vanderbilt is all about the defense. Florida was the only team to score more than 24 points on the ‘Dores, which has done a nice job of creating turnovers and pocket pressure. The most talented player on either sideline is CB D.J. Moore, an NFL-ready defender, who’ll also contribute as a dangerous return man and an occasional pass-catcher. At some point, he’ll make a play that ignites the partisan crowd in Nashville. Joining Moore in the secondary is S Ryan Hamilton, a thumper who’ll be instrumental in run defense. A good all-around athlete, he’s second on the team with 98 tackles and had a three-pick game in the upset of Ole Miss. Now that Broderick Stewart is done with a broken leg, Steven Stone needs to rise up from his end position. One of the Commodores’ better pass rushers, he’ll be asked to chip in more than normal in run defense against a hefty BC front wall.     

Boston College will win if... it keeps gobbling up the takeaways. The Eagles lead the country with 36 turnovers gained, a key reason why they nearly won an ACC title. If Boston College can pressure the already futile Vandy offense into mistakes, the Commodores will struggle to reach double-digits. As it stands now, they’ll need to be precise just to top their season average of 19 points a game. If the Eagles can give Davis a few short field opportunities with turnovers, this game could get ugly by the third quarter.    

Vanderbilt will win if... it can pressure Davis into unforced errors. It’s sort of the same blueprint that Boston College is staring at for this game. The Eagles aren’t going to run away and hide with their offense, so if a few drives end in turnovers, they’ll be in a four-quarter scrum. In Davis’ last high-profile game with Virginia Tech, he was picked off twice and sacked five times, while guiding his offense to just a single touchdown. The Commodores have enough talent, especially in the back seven, to produce similar results against this vanilla Eagle offense.       

What will happen: It’s possible that Vanderbilt will ride the excitement of the moment and energy of the local crowd to a mild upset of Boston College. The more likely scenario, however, has the Commodores struggling badly to score on an Eagle defense that gives up very little ground, especially against the run. In one of the postseason’s least attractive games, Boston College will win the pivotal turnover battle and get a game-changing touchdown from its defense. Neither team will have a 100-yard rusher or produce more than 300 yards of total offense, propelling a couple of inconsistent kickers into the spotlight.  
Line: Boston College -3.5 ... CFN Prediction: Boston College 23 ... Vanderbilt 16 

- 2008 Music City Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More