The Sweep

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Can exhilarating playmaker D.J. Moore and the Commodores prevail in their first bowl appearance since 1982?
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Boston College (9-4) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

 
Reason To Watch: What else is there to do before you go out on New Year's Eve? This should be a defensive slugfest, and not necessarily because the defenses are that great (though they are both pretty good). Boston College's offense checks in at No. 94 nationally, which is actually significantly better than Vanderbilt's 117th-ranked unit. But the intrigue from a viewer's standpoint is whether or not Vanderbilt, which is ending a 26-year bowl drought, can snap Boston College's eight-game bowl winning streak.
 
Keep An Eye On: The quarterbacks. Boston College's Dominique Davis replaced Chris Crane in the 11th game of the season (after Crane broke his collarbone) and finished off a Wake Forest win. He went on to beat Maryland and lose to Virginia Tech in the ACC title game. He led four touchdown drives over the two-plus games while completing less than 50 percent of his passes with three interceptions. Vanderbilt is in rough shape as well with Chris Nickson, McKenzie Adams and even freshman Larry Smith, who played in the season finale. Nickson and Adams split the season with neither playing well enough to fully claim the job, though it appears Nickson will start because Adams is nursing a sore knee.
 
Did You Know?: This is Boston College's 11th straight December bowl.
 
Final Analysis: Vanderbilt has good wins on its resume -- Ole Miss, South Carolina -- but six losses in its final seven games clearly show it is limping into its first bowl since the 1982 Independence Bowl. Boston College is ranked better on offense and defense and won its last four games before the ACC title game. The Eagles were bumped down the ACC bowl pecking order because of their small fan base, not because of the quality of the team.
 
The Pick: Vanderbilt 19, Boston College 17. So how will there be an upset? With BC just four quarters from the Orange Bowl, the Music City Bowl is certainly a letdown. Motivation may be an issue. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, should be as motivated as a team can be to cap its bowl breakthrough with a winning season. The Commodores should also enjoy a home-crowd advantage in Nashville, which has been aching to see Vanderbilt in the postseason for over two decades.

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