MU­SIC City Bowl

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Byteresa M.walker

NASHVILLE, TENN. — The Van­der­bilt Com­modores have made plenty of his­tory this sea­son, and now they can do some­thing not seen at this pri­vate univer­sity in nearly a cen­tury: Win nine games.

Coach James Franklin isn’t talk­ing about the op­por­tu­nity his Com­modores have Mon­day in the Mu­sic City Bowl against North Carolina State (75). Not yet, even though it would be their first ninewin sea­son since 1915 and only their third all-time. Not when he’s been so busy coach­ing and try­ing to sell as many tick­ets to turn LP Field, home of the NFL’s Ten­nessee Ti­tans, into a home field.

“This is a per­fect sit­u­a­tion for us,” Franklin said.

“We’re still try­ing to build our brand. We’re still try­ing to build our fol­low­ing. We’re still try­ing to claim our stake of be­ing Nashville’s team and really es­tab­lish it so this is a great op­por­tu­nity to play in our city, to play LP Field, which is kind of like our other sta­dium. From what I un­der­stand, they used our sta­dium for a time pe­riod, and now we’re us­ing theirs.”

This is a sec­ond straight bowl for Van­der­bilt, some­thing the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence’s small­est univer­sity had never done be­fore. The Com­modores also come in with an SECbest six straight vic­to­ries and their best sea­son since 1982. That helped Franklin earn a sec­ond straight con­tract ex­ten­sion a month ago.

Now they want to im­prove on a year ago when the Com­modores lost the Lib­erty Bowl 31- 24 to Cincin­nati. Franklin said he re­al­ized some of his play­ers were just happy to be in a bowl.

Bowl games are noth­ing new for N.C. State with this the 27th in school his­tory. But the Wolf­pack (7-5) had to win two of their fi­nal three games to be­come bowl el­i­gi­ble, and it wasn’t enough to save coach Tom O’Brien’s job.

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dana Bi­ble stuck around as in­terim head coach along with the rest of the staff to coach this game, while in­com­ing coach Dave Do­eren pre­pares to take over.

“There’s no way I’m go­ing to try and re­place him,” Bi­ble said of O’Brien.

“I’m just do­ing the best job that I can to give us the best chance to suc­ceed.”

The Wolf­pack have won two straight bowls.

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