Finally, Vanderbilt has made it back to a bowl game. This is the Commodores' first bowl appearance since 1982. Now its goal will be to win a bowl game for the first time since 1955 when Vanderbilt defeated Auburn 25-13 in the Gator Bowl in its first bowl appearance.
The task won't be a small one as the Commodores face the team that holds the longest current bowl winning streak. Boston College has won 8 of these games in-a-row with its last loss occurring in the 1999 Insight Bowl.
The Eagles are 13-6 overall in bowl games, and 12-2 going back to 1984. Vanderbilt its 1-1-1.
Boston College lost 30-12 to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game, their second straight conference title game loss to the Hokies after beating them each year in the regular season. Last season's loss dropped the Eagles to the Champs Sports Bowl. This year's setback kicked them down to what was essentially the fifth ACC team selected for a bowl game.
Boston College defeated Georgia 20-16 in the 2001 edition of the Music City Bowl.
The Eagle defense is ranked sixth in total yards allowed, holding the opposition to 273.38 total yards per game. Boston College has the seventh-ranked rushing defense in the nation after holding opponents to just 92.15 yards per game on the ground.
The Eagles are also good on pass defense, holding opponents to a 98.71 passer efficiency rating. Defenders Paul Anderson and Mark Herzlich each have .60 interceptions to rank in a tie for 14th in the nation and in a tie for sixth in the ACC
This could be considered a home game for Vanderbilt, though the game is staged at the Tennessee Titans' LP Field and not at Vanderbilt Stadium.
This will be the 'Dores third effort against an ACC team this year. The Commodores lost 10-7 to Duke, and 23-10 to Wake Forest in regular season games.
Vanderbilt will also be trying to get back on the winning track after dropping six of its' last seven games after a 5-0 start.
Since Game 5, redshirt senior Chris Nickson and redshirt junior Mackenzi Adams have swapped starting roles as the Vanderbilt quarterback. Nickson got the nod as the Commodores started 5-0, but shoulder injuries and diminished results forced the staff to insert Adams for three games. When both Nickson and Adams left the finale at Wake Forest with injuries, redshirt freshman Larry Smith became the team's third signal caller.
D.J. Moore is all-everything for the Commodores. The defensive back and return specialist saw enough time on offense to average 20.4 yards on seven receptions, including a pair of touchdowns. He also ran for 73 yards on eight carries. As a punt returner, Moore ranked among the nation's best with a 14.4-yard average, including a season long of 91 yards. He also returned 21 kickoffs for 407 yards. On defense, Moore had 54 total tackles with 28 solos, 6 interceptions, 6 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble. The three-year starter is the SEC's active career leader with 13 interceptions.
Commodore junior linebacker Patrick Benoist set season highs in virtually every statistic category, including tackles (100), solo tackles (46), tackles for loss (6.5), quarterback hurries (3) and defended passes (4).
Vanderbilt freshman linebacker Chris Marve was the nation's No. 3 freshman tackler with 95 total stops, including 51 unassisted tackles to lead the team in that category. Marve started every game en route to topping the SEC with four forced fumbles. He also contributed three quarterback sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
Kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt is the Commodores' all-time leading scorer, but after making his first eight field goal attempts of the season, Hahnfeldt missed four in-a-row and connected on just two of his last seven kicks. He did have three makes beyond 40 yards, and is perfect on PAT's with 29-of-29.
Boston College features two true freshman runners at tailback. Montel Harris has five games of 100 yards or more, and broke the school's freshman season rushing record with 832 yards. Harris and Josh Haden are the second-most prolific true freshman running back pair in the country with an average of 105.9 yards per game.
Boston College senior wide receiver Brandon Robinson ranks fourth in school history with 138 receptions. His 1,983 career receiving yards puts him in seventh all-time in that category. This season, Robinson leads the team with 606 receiving yards, a 46.6 per game average, and a 15.5 per catch average. Rich Gunnell leads the team in receptions with 49. Gunnell has 4 TD catches and 551 yards receiving.
At quarterback, redshirt freshman Dominique Davis entered the Wake Forest game (B.C.'s 10th game of the season) in the second quarter after senior Chris Crane fractured his collarbone. The Eagles went on to win that game, and were also victorious the following week at home against Maryland in the game that clinched the division title. But Davis was just 17-of-43 with 2 INT's against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship.
The Eagles' senior strong safety Paul Anderson, and junior linebacker Mark Herzlich, have each intercepted six passes this season. Herzlich is one of just two linebackers in the nation with six interceptions (Baylor's Joe Pawelek is the other). He is also one of just four linebackers in the country with two interception returns for touchdowns. The 2008 Butkus Award finalist leads the team with 105 tackles, 79 solo stops, seven pass break-ups, six interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles.
Robert Francois is third on the team with 72 tackles and has eight tackles for a loss. B.J. Raji has 37 tackles on the season and leads the team with 13 tackles for losses totaling 69 yards, and seven sacks. He also has four pass break-ups and three QB hurries.
Boston College punter Ryan Quigley has a 39.4-yard average with a long of 59 yards, and has pinned the opponent inside the 20 nine times. Sophomore walk-on Greg Abilheira had never played in a college game before he came in to kick the final extra point in the Eagles' 42-0 win over Rhode Island, but here's the rest of the story - Abilheira's father, Louis, had a cancerous tumor removed two days before the game and was recovering in Rhode Island hospital.
Boston College has won the only two meetings between the two programs, in 1962 and 1963. The series began with a 27-22 win in Nashville prior to capturing a 19-6 home win the following year.
Bobby Johnson is in his seventh season as head coach at Vanderbilt where he is 26-56 (.317). Johnson overall record is 86-92 (.483) in 15 seasons.
Jeff Jagodzinski is in his second season at Boston College. It is his first head coaching job and he is off to a fine start with a record of 20-7 (.741).