College football: Wolfpack, Commodores to face off Monday afternoon in Camping World Independence Bowl

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The North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Vanderbilt Commodores will face off at 4 p.m. Monday in the 41st Camping World Indepen-dence Bowl.

The Wolfpack (6-6) finished tied for fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division with a 3-5 mark.

This will be the third consecutive bowl appearance for N.C. State in four seasons under head coach Dave Doeren.

The Commodores (6-6) finished tied for fifth in the Southeastern Conference’s East Division.

They are making their first bowl apparence under third-year coach Derek Mason and fourth in the last six years.

“Our players and coaches are excited and looking forward to playing in Shreveport and having an opportunity to continue our season in the Independence Bowl,” Mason said at the team announcement party at Independence Stadium on Dec. 12. “We ended the year playing our best football and look to continue playing well here in two weeks.”

Both the Commodores and Wolfpack played some exciting games. Of their combined 12 losses, nine were by nine points or less.

“We both had some one-possession games this season,” Doeren said at the team announcement party. “We won some and lost some. This game is a great celebration of a lot of hard work that started in January.”

N.C. State got off to a great start, winning four of its first five. The Wolfpack then lost four in a row, but three of those were by seven points or less. Those included a 24-17 overtime loss to eventual ACC champ Clemson on Oct. 15 and a 24-20 loss to No. 19 Florida State on Nov. 5.

The Wolfpack missed a 33-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in regulation against Clemson.

N.C. State had three players selected to the coaches’ All-ACC second team — offensive guard Tony Adams, defensive end Bradley Chubb and running back Matthew Dayes.

Chubb is the national leader with 21.0 tackles for loss this season. He ranks 15th nationally in sacks with 9.5.

Dayes ranks third in the ACC in rushing with 1,119 yards. Samuels leads the Wolfpack with 49 catches. He also has scored 10 TDs, including six on the ground.

Quarterback Ryan Finley, a redshirt sophomore from Phoenix, has passed for 2,824 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Vanderbilt closed the regular season 4-2, including victories in its final two games to finish at .500.

The Commodores defeated Ole Miss 38-17 and followed that with a 45-34 win over rival Tennessee on Nov. 26.
Five of Vanderbilt’s losses were by nine points or less.

Junior linebacker Zach Cunningham, a consensus first-team All-American, leads the Commodores defense.

Ralph Webb, a second-team coaches’ All-SEC selection, leads the team in rushing with 1,172 yards on 229 carries. He as scored 12 touchdowns.

Kyle Shurmer has completed 185 of 329 passes for 2,251 yards and nine touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Offensive tackle Will Holden was also named second-team All-SEC by the league’s coaches.

The Commodores have three receivers with more than 400 yards receiving — C.J. Duncan (447), Trent Sherfield (448) and Caleb Scott (417).

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com