The North Carolina State Wolfpack struggled away from home this season, and nothing changed on a neutral site in Music City.
Mike Glennon was intercepted three times, and the Wolfpack also had two fumbles Monday in losing the Music City Bowl to Vanderbilt 38-24.
“We hurt ourselves and when you play against a team like Vanderbilt, you can't do that,” N.C. State interim head coach Dana Bible said. “Nobody wanted to do that. Nobody was remiss in that area, but we practiced hard through December to make sure ball security was right at the top. But obviously we didn't get that done.”
The Wolfpack (7-6) came into the bowl with 28 turnovers this season, and they wound up with at least four for a fifth game. That snapped N.C. State's bowl winning streak at two since dropping the Papajohns.com Bowl to Rutgers on Dec. 29, 2008.
Glennon finished his final game 35 of 53 for 383 yards and helped the Wolfpack outgain Vanderbilt 424-225 in total offense — but he was also sacked three times. Bible, who filled in after Tom O'Brien was fired at the end of the regular season, took blame for two of Glennon's interceptions and said he was trying to be aggressive against a Southeastern Conference team.
“We weren't going to play it safe,” Bible said. “We weren't going to play back on this team. We were going to be attacking on it, and if they made a play on it more power to them.”
Now that the season is over, Dave Doeren, who's been working on the same fourth floor as the rest of O'Brien's staff, can take over fully. Bible said he hadn't thought of his future, dedicating himself to trying to be both offensive coordinator and head coach for the Wolfpack for this bowl.
“So we'll see what happens,” Bible said. “I'll have time to sit down and think about that and see what the future holds.”
Glennon, expected to be among the top prospects for the NFL draft in April, said he thinks the N.C. State program will be in good shape.
“I am sure the new coach will do a good job,” Glennon said. “I think we have a lot of talent coming back.”
A sign that this wasn't the Wolfpack's day came on the opening drive, when a third-down snap in the shotgun went a couple feet over the head of the 6-foot-6 Glennon. It could have been worse because Vanderbilt (9-4) scored only 17 points off the turnovers.
The Wolfpack also didn't force a mistake by Vanderbilt, either, though cornerback David Amerson has led the Atlantic Coast Conference in interceptions each of the past two seasons. With so many short fields, Vanderbilt threw the ball only 27 times with even running back Zac Stacy attempting a halfback pass to his quarterback.
N.C. State held opponents to just 14.3 points a game in its six home games. The Wolfpack struggled away from that field, giving up 34.8 points per game.
“This was a business trip,” N.C. State senior safety Earl Wolff said. “We were here to play football. That was our main thing, goal. It is hard but (if) we are going to lose, lose with pride, lose with dignity.”
The Commodores finished 9-4 for their best record since going 9-1 in 1915, and it's only the third time the smallest and only private university in the SEC has won as many as nine games in a season.
Vandy closed the season with seven straight wins for its longest streak since an eight-game run in 1948, and its 15 wins over the past two seasons is the program's best total since 1926 and 1927.
“When you're throwing out dates like 1915, you know that's a very, very, very long time,” Vandy coach James Franklin said. “Talk about these guys great-great grandparents. Seven-game win streak is the team's longest win streak since 1948, and we also currently have the longest win streak in the SEC, which we're very, very proud of.”
The Commodores took control from the opening drive, moving 65 yards for a touchdown that put them ahead to stay. Officials initially called Chris Boyd out of bounds, but the video review showed the sophomore got the toes of his right foot down for a 5-yard TD pass from Rodgers.
Commodores safety Kenny Ladler picked off a Glennon pass at the North Carolina State 45 for Vanderbilt's fifth interception in three games. Vanderbilt wound up matching the most points the Dores had ever scored in a bowl game by halftime with a 28-14 lead.
“They were better today,” Wolff said.