Unlike this cranky old blowhard, your BTP self-styled Swami will not lead you astray or yell at you if you move around while I'm typing. (Although I might have thought, "Go to bed, bitch" as the wife kept looking over my shoulder and asking what I was doing as I was getting my amateur muckraking on earlier. I mean, Jesus. I'm trying to concentrate here. It's like no one here has even been in blogging before. Jesus. I can't believe what I just saw.)
Anyway, here are a couple of rambling scenarios about how the MCB could go down followed by how it will probably go down, I think.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win:
The Commodores are an 8-4 team from the SEC, and they enter the MCB riding a six-game winning streak. They face a disappointing 7-5 team from the much weaker ACC, and that team will be led by a zombie coaching staff after Tom O'Brien and all but one assistant coach were dismissed following the Wolfpack's failure to meet expectations in year six of the TOB regime. On top of all of that, Vanderbilt is in effect the home team, as Nashville's LP Field (home of the NFL's Titans) is minutes from its picturesque campus. Four of the Wolfpack's five losses came away from Cater-Finley Stadium.
Statistically, Vanderbilt boasts one of the nation's top defenses. The Commodores rank 15th in the FBS in scoring defense and 17th in total defense. Though they miraculously won all three games, the Wolfpack struggled mightily to put points on the board against the three toughest defenses they faced: Florida State (2nd in total defense), UConn (9th), and Maryland (19th). Vanderbilt's duo of thousand-yard performers, receiver Jordan Matthews and running back Zac Stacy, along with a potent special teams unit, should provide enough scoring to push past a Pack team that will struggle to stimulate scoreboard activity.
Why N. C. State Might Win:
SEC or not, this is Vanderbilt we're talking about. The Commodores 8-4 mark gave them just their second winning season since 1982, which was also the last time they won as many as eight games. You have to go back to 1915 to find a nine-win Vandy squad, and the program has never won more than nine games, so this is not exactly Alabama. The 2012 incarnation of the MCB will be just the sixth bowl trip all time for the ‘dores, who, like their MCB opponent, had exactly one win over a bowl-bound program this year, a one-pointer over Ole Miss. State's lone win over a bowl team was also by one point and came against Florida State.
The difference between these programs comes down to expectations. The Florida State win was supposed to be one of many highlights for the Wolfpack as they competed for an ACC championship. Winning just seven games got the coaching staff fired. Win seven or more games at Vanderbilt and you're a god, but just because Vanderbilt exceeded expectations and N. C. State failed to meet them does not make the Commodores a more talented team. The Wolfpack have the most talented player on the field in Mike Glennon, who has thrown for nearly 7,000 yards and 61 touchdowns over the past two seasons and may be the first quarterback selected in the NFL draft. The senior gunslinger has the arm to expose a Vandy D that fabricated its awesomeness against the likes of Presbyterian, UMass, Kentucky, and Wake Forest. Glennon and his teammates realize that their failure to get the job done this season put a lot of people on the unemployment line, and they should be highly motivated to win just one for the zombie gippers.
What Will Actually Happen:
Perhaps Interim Head Zombie Dana Bible has devised some sort of trick (setting the hotel clocks back a couple of hours?) to get the Wolfpack awake and ready to play for a noon kickoff. The Wolfpack were at their worst in nooners this season, going 1-3 in early games. And the earlier in the early game it was, the uglier it got. State was outscored 62-21 in the first quarter of noon and 12:30 kickoffs. To make matters worse, the MCB will actually kick at 11 a.m. local time. With help from its stellar special teams play and a couple of three-and-outs from a rusty, pass-oriented offense, the Commodores will take an early two-score advantage. One part pride and one part guilt trip over getting their coaches axed will fuel a furious Wolfpack comeback, but Vandy hangs on, 30-24.
Adding Vanderbilt to the list of teams State should have beaten (Miami, UNC, and Virginia for sure; Tennessee and Clemson were winnable too, dammit) would be a fitting final nail in the TOB era's coffin.
The spread has Vandy as a 7.5-point fave and the over/under is 51.5, so take the Pack to cover and take the over. (No, don't. Don't bet at all. Omega Swami's predictions are for entertainment purposes only, and, seriously, just don't bet on Wolfpack football. Ever.)