2008 Music City Bowl Preview
by Matt Severance - 12/26/2008
Boston College (9-4) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
Conference matchup: ACC vs. SEC
When: Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Location: The Coliseum, Nashville, Tenn.
Spread: BC -3.5, total at 41
Line movement: It has been pretty steady. It opened at four and dropped a half-point at some books but opened at 3.5 at many sites. The over/under also hasn't moved much, a half-point here and there.
Bowl history: Boston College is the anti-Notre Dame in bowls (OK, last crack at the Irish since they ended their nine-game bowl losing streak on Christmas Eve), having won a national-best eight consecutive bowl games. One of those came in the 2001 Music City Bowl, and BC is 13-6 all-time in bowls. Vandy is in its first bowl since 1982 and fourth ever: the Commodores are 1-1-1 in the postseason.
How they got here: BC certainly had visions of the Orange Bowl but was dumped in the ACC title game for the second year in a row by Virginia Tech. Before that loss, BC had won four games in a row. Vandy was the nation's darling when it started 5-0. But then the wheels fell off as the Dores dropped six of their final seven. Every loss was competitive except for against Florida. The lone win was vs. Kentucky.
Key trends: Boston College is 6-2 ATS in its past eight bowls. Vandy is 7-2 ATS in its past nine as an underdog. The under is 4-1 in the Eagles' past five non-conference games and 7-2 in Vandy's past nine games overall.
Crane won't make it back: Boston College will start redshirt freshman Dominique Davis at QB. Davis took over when senior Chris Crane broke his collarbone against Wake Forest on Nov. 22. There were hopes that Crane would be able to start his final college game, but he is still recovering.
Davis was solid in his first career start, the regular-season finale against Maryland when he threw two touchdowns as the Eagles clinched a spot in the ACC title game. But against the Hokies with that Orange Bowl berth on the line, Davis looked like a freshman, going 17-for-43 with two interceptions.
BC likely will rely on the ground game, led by Montel Harris, to take some pressure off Davis.
Inept Dores: The Vandy offense is one of the worst in the country, ranking No. 117 in total offense with just 260.9 yards per game. The Commodores averaged just 15.7 points in their final seven games. The problem is at QB, where Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson both have struggled, with Vandy ranking No. 113 in the country with 122.8 passing yards per game. Freshman Larry Smith saw some time in the regular-season finale and could play against Boston College: "There's a good chance he'll be in the mix," coach Bobby Johnson said. Still no word on who will start.
It's also not clear as of this writing if Vandy's leading rusher, Jared Hawkins, will be available for the game. That could mean WR Jamie Graham could play tailback; he moved there for the regular-season finale with Hawkins hurt.
The Eagles, by the way, lead the nation in interceptions with 26 (five returned for TDs) and the defense is ranked No. 6 overall in allowing 273.4 yards per game.
Overview: Frankly, Boston College is the better team here, but the Eagles might take a while to get excited about playing in this game while it's a huge thing for Vandy, especially in front of a home crowd. Still, I look for BC to put it together in the second half and win its 10th game of the season for only the fifth time in school history (but third in a row) and keep that bowl winning streak going. "For the senior class, it's huge motivation, because we don't want to be the class to break that," BC receiver Brandon Robinson said. "I don't think any class wants to be the one that breaks that."