WHO: North Carolina State (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
WHAT: The 41st Camping World Independence Bowl
WHEN: December 26, 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2
WHERE: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
THE SKINNY: A pair of late season upsets over in-state rivals helped both of these teams reach the postseason and each will head to the Independence Bowl hungry to keep things rolling at the end of the year.
While this game was one of the more entertaining and high-scoring bowls last year, that probably isn’t going to be the case in 2016 given the units involved. Vanderbilt’s defense is the heart and soul of the team and features linebacker Zach Cunningham, who was a unanimous All-American this season after leading the SEC in tackles with 119. The Commodores’ offense has had its up’s and downs but tailback Ralph Webb is one of the most reliable runners in the country and quarterback Kyle Shurmur capped off a nice stretch by setting a career high with 416 passing yards in a win over Tennessee.
The Wolfpack are led by running back Matthew Dayes, who finished third in the ACC this season with 1,119 rushing yards. His teammate in the backfield is quarterback Ryan Finley, who transferred over from Boise State in the offseason and got off to a great start this year before cooling off in early November. N.C. State’s defense is not well known by those outside the North Carolina Triangle but defensive end Bradley Chubb is second in the nation with 21 tackles for loss and is 23rd with 9.5 sacks.
Vanderbilt is making its eighth bowl appearance ever this year and fourth in the past six years while this is the third straight bowl under Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren. This figures to be a fairly even matchup and between the two teams but the Commodores have the better defense and should continue to keep things up on offense to the point where they can secure a close win over their ACC foe.
THE LINE: Vanderbilt, +4
THE PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 28, N.C. State 21
The Iowa Hawkeyes are about to host a top-four team at Kinnick Stadium this Saturday night, and it seems there is slightly more trouble trying to sell out the game than anticipated. According to Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen (and not the NCAA president by the same name), Iowa still had 4,000 tickets for this week’s game against No. 4 Penn State sitting in the box office as of earlier today.
Price concerns for the game coupled with a delay in knowing the kickoff time apparently had some influence on the unexpected ticket availability this close to the game.
Schools are becoming more and more commonly known for having higher-priced tickets for the more marquee games on their home schedule, and Iowa is no exception. Iowa has tiered ticket pricing for their home games, and Penn State being the defending conference champion with a decent traveling fanbase made this week’s matchup an ideal fit for being priced in the higher tier. Later this year, Iowa’s home game against Ohio State will also be priced at $95. $95, for some, is not worth the effort to go to a game and tailgate all day. It may be fine for a good number of fans, but it’s not for everybody.
Having to wait to know what time a game will kickoff can be a nuisance for those football fans who like to plan ahead. And while a primetime game may be great for exposure, it can be a cumbersome chore for some fans who would much rather stay home and not have to deal with a late-night drive home.
So if you are looking to get a ticket to the game this weekend in Iowa City, you may have a good chance to pick up a ticket.
This weekend when Indiana takes the field, the Hoosiers will be honoring former head coach Terry Hoeppner. To do that on the 10th anniversary of the former coach’s passing, Indiana’s uniforms will have a slight modification to the numbering. Rather than a traditional white block numbering on the front and back, Indiana’s uniform numbers will feature a pattern mimicking Hep’s Rock, which was introduced to the program by the former head coach and remains a fixture within the program.
Hoeppner passed away at the age of 59 in the summer of June 2007. Hoeppner had planned to step away from coaching to focus on a battle with brain cancer that summer, but he fell victim to the disease on June 19, 2007. Though he may have only coached for Indiana for two seasons, his impact on the program was noticeable in helping the program build a foundation. The Hoosiers won four and five games in the two seasons coached by Hoeppner, but the 2007 team carried on his mission to “Play 13” by advancing to the Insight Bowl (now known as the Cactus Bowl). Members of the 2007 bowl team (Indiana lost to Oklahoma State in that bowl game) will be in Bloomington to celebrate the life of Hoeppner, who remains an inspiration for the program to this day.
As Houston prepares for a game that could quickly become a shootout of sorts with Texas Tech, the Cougars could have one more wide receiver good to go this weekend. D’Eriq King is expected to make his season debut for the Cougars this week after missing the past two games coming off an offseason knee injury.
Houston head coach Major Applewhite announced on the radio he feels his young wide receiver option is finally ready to get back at it, and it could come at no better time.
As a freshman in 2016, King caught 20 passes in 10 games for 228 yards and a touchdown. King was expected to be a contributor to the offense this season. Having a healthy receiver is going to be key against a Texas Tech offense that will not shy away from the pass.
LSU could very well be without its most potent offensive weapon when it looks to bounce back from an embarrassing Week 3 loss.
Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee. The star running back hasn’t practiced at all this week, even as Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury.
On the SEC teleconference Wednesday, however, the head coach acknowledged that it could be much worse than he’d been letting on, so much so that the Guice could miss the Week 4 game against Syracuse.
“I don’t know if Derrius is going to play,” Orgeron said. “He didn’t dress out yesterday in pads. He’s very questionable right now.”
Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns. His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.
Should Guice be unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) would likely be next in line to shoulder the running-game load.