Game 13: NC State Wolfpack (7-5, 4-4) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4, 5-3)
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
December 31, 2012 12:00 p.m. (ET) ESPN
Nashville, Tenn. LP Field (68,798)
TV: ESPN | Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network | Gametracker
Game Notes | NC State Twitter | Ask the Analyst
MUSIC TO OUR EARS
NC State will be playing in its 27th bowl game when it takes on Vanderbilt in the 2012 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. The Wolfpack is one of just 12 BCS schools that has notched bowl victories each of the past two years.
In its history, State posts a 14-11-1 record in postseason bowls and has won seven of its last 10 post-season appearances. This will be the third bowl appearance in the state of Tennessee, as the Wolfpack also played in the 1967 and 1973 Liberty Bowls in Memphis.
NC State is one of just 12 BCS schools that have notched bowl victories each of the past two years.
NC STATE VS. VANDERBILT
The New Year's Eve game between the Wolfpack and the Commodores will mark just the second meeting ever between the two schools. The only previous matchup came in 1946, when Coach Beattie Feathers took his NC State squad to Nashville for a Nov. 9 contest. The Pack lost that game, 7-0.
That was one of just three trips the Wolfpack has ever taken to the state of Tennessee to play football and the other three were . Lou Holtz took his `73 squad to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, where it defeated Kansas, 31-18. Earle Edwards' squads competed in two Liberty Bowls, but only one was in Memphis - in 1967 when the Pack defeated Georgia, 14-7. The 1963 Liberty Bowl, in which State defeated Mississippi State, 16-12, was played in Philadelphia.
Fifteen scholarship players will be post-graduates by the time the Wolfpack competes in the Music City Bowl. Three graduated last December - Mike Glennon, C.J. Wilson and Earl Wolff; one in May - Sterling Lucas; and 11 will graduate in ceremonies on Dec. 15. Glennon will actually graduate for the second time, as he will earn his master's degree in fall graduation ceremonies.
Here's a list of the Pack's scholarship players who will be college graduates when they take on Vanderbilt:
Zach Allen, OG
Brandon Barnes, HB
Brandan Bishop, S
Mario Carter, TE
McKay Frandsen, DE
Mike Glennon, QB
Sterling Lucas, LB
R.J. Mattes, OG/OT
Tobais Palmer, WR
Andrew Wallace, OG/OT
James Washington, HB
Asa Watson, TE
Camden Wentz, C
C.J. Wilson, CB
Earl Wolff, S
The Norman family of Stone Mountain, Georgia just can't make up their mind where they want to sit at LP Field in Nashville on Dec. 31, when NC State faces Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl. Esther wants to split up, with one parent sitting in the NC State section and the other sitting among the Vanderbilt faithful. Warren, Sr., thinks they should spend one half in each area.
Neither, however, can decide which team to cheer for.
That's because the Normans have a son playing for each team. Warren, Jr., is a redshirt junior running back for the Commodores. He's played in eight games this season, but was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2009.
Artemis, known as Art by his teammates, is a pass rushing specialist for the Wolfpack. He started four games in 2012, led the team with 28 quarterback pressures and tied for the team lead with 5.5 sackes.
The Normans certainly keep the interstates hot during the autumn, as they make the trek east to Raleigh one week and west to Nashville the next.
It's fitting that the Grandpa of the Wolfpack defense should be named WOLFF. Senior safety Earl Wolff, a first-team All-ACC performer, has played in 50 career games, more than any player on the 2012 NC State squad. His 42 career starts is one of the highest totals in the ACC.
The veteran of 2,685 snaps from scrimmage and another 400+ on special teams, is also the team leader with 391 career tackles - the fifth-best mark in school history. He is also tied for third in school history with eight caused fumbles after a huge caused fumble against Maryland.
Wolff was instrumental in the Pack's win at UConn on Sept. 8, racking up seven tackles (including five first hits or solos) according to the coaches' game film, even though he played just three quarters and played just after leaving with an injury. He was in for just 47 snaps, his lowest total since midway through the 2010 season. He was named the ACC Player of the Week at defensive back.
In the first half, with Connecticut driving, Wolff pulled down the fifth interception of his career and returned it 16 yards. But his biggest play of the game was on the interception that he missed. In the third quarter, with State up 3-0, he barely missed a pick and the pass was completed behind him. Immediately after the catch, fellow safety Brandan Bishop forced a fumble and Wolff was there to fall on it. That gave the Pack the ball at the UConn 41 and three plays later, State scored its only touchdown of the afternoon.
He has led the team in tackles six times. With nine tackles in the Music City Bowl, Wolff will become only the fifth player in school history to record at least 400 career tackles and would become the first defensive back to do so.
R.J. Mattes gets around. The senior offensive lineman, who was named a second-team All-ACC choice for 2012, has started at left guard in 10 games of 2012 - the fourth different OL position of his career. And his starts haven't been in a fill-in capacity due to injury or the like, but have been for multiple games.
Mattes started 12 games last season at left tackle. In 2010, he came back from injury to start 10 games at right tackle. As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he started eight games at right guard before suffering a season-ending injury.
Research has uncovered a couple of BCS players - Alabama's Barrett Jones (RG, LT, C) and Wake Forest's Garrick Williams (C, LG, RG) - who will be starting at their third position on the OL in 2012, but none that will be starting their fourth.
WE LIKE MIKE
In just his second year as a starting quarterback, graduate student Mike Glennon has put up numbers that rank among the most prolific signal callers in NC State history. He now ranks in the top four in almost every Wolfpack career passing category, while his single season numbers from both of his years as a starter rank among all-time Wolfpack greats.
Glennon is currently averaging 304.0 passing yards a game, the second-best mark in school history (Philip Rivers, 2003 - 345.46). Glennon and Rivers are the only two QBs to average over 300 yards passing per game in a single season. In the red zone, Glennon went 30-of-52 (.577) for 202 yards, with 13 touchdowns and only one interception in 2012.
Mike Glennon's entry into the job of starting collegiate quarterback was not a quiet one. At the beginning of the 2011 season, nobody mentioned his name without also mentioning his predecessor Russell Wilson, who had moved on to Wisconsin and is now the starting QB for the Seattle Seahawks.
Despite the controversy and talk swirling around him, Glennon was unflappable in his first year starting under center. In 2011, He silenced all critics by throwing 31 touchdown passes, gaining over 3000 passing yards and completing .625 of his throws. In fact, only three quarterbacks in ACC history have thrown for more TDs in a season.
Prior to the 2012 campaign, The Sporting News ranked him as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. His stints at the Manning Passing Academy and at the Elite 11 Camp during the summer have put him solidly in the sights of the national media and NFL scouts.
THE TEAM BEHIND THE TEAM
NC State has definitely benefitted from the efforts of its passionate fanbase over the past three years. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Wolfpack has posted a 16-3 record on its home field. That total includes victories over both top 10 teams who have visited Wayne Day Family Field during that time frame.
That is the best home record during a three-year span since another 16-3 mark between 1991 and 1993. The best three-year mark ever at Carter-Finley, which opened in 1966, was a 15-0-1 stretch from 1972-74.
Pack fans have also helped the team in bowl games each of the past two seasons, as fans flocked in droves to Orlando for the Champs Sports Bowl in 2010 and to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl in 2011. NC State earned victories in both of those contests as well.
In that same time frame, the Pack has posted a 6-9 mark in road games.
Despite the fact that he has only started 25 games in his career at NC State, Mike Glennon ranks among the best quarterbacks in school history in many career, single season and single game stats. There is one category, however, where he stands alone at the top of the Pack.
With 30 touchdown passes in 2012, Glennon is now the first quarterback in NC State history to pass for 30 or more touchdowns in two different seasons, as he threw for 31 a year ago. In fact, Glennon and Clemson's Tajh Boyd are the only players in ACC history every to acomplish that feat, and they have done it at the same time (Boyd had 33 TD throws in 2011 and 34 this season).
TOBAIS ON THE RISE
Senior wide receiver Tobais Palmer made sure that he had a place in NC State history in the Nov. 17th offensive juggernaut at Clemson. Palmer set an ACC record with 496 all-purpose yards in the contest: 277 on kickoff returns and 219 in receiving yards.
He shattered the school mark held by his former teammate T.J. Graham, who had 336 last year at Cincinnati and the league mark which was set by John Leach of Wake Forest with 411 yards in 1993.
Palmer's 277 yards in kickoff returns broke another NC State record formerly held by Graham (202 by Graham in 2009). He fell just six yards shy of the ACC record in that category. That came a week after he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the win over Wake Forest.
In terms of receiving, Palmer's 219 yards was the third-highest total in school history, as were his three touchdown catches. Only All-American Torry Holt ever had more receiving yards or TDs in a game that Palmer did against the Tigers.
Over the past two games, Palmer caught 14 passes for 274 yards (he averaged just 3.2 catches and 39.6 yards in the first 10 games of 2012). He also hauled in five or his six TDs of the season in those contests against Clemson and Boston College.