When the Commodores take the field to play in the 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, it will be the program's fifth all-time bowl appearance. To revisit Vanderbilt's bowl games of the past, VUCommodores has highlighted a different bowl game every Thursday leading up to the Liberty Bowl. This Thursday, Vanderbilt goes back just a few seasons ago to look at the 2008 Music City Bowl.
Included with each game recap have been highlights, statistics and an interview with a former player from the game.
2008 Music City Bowl
Boston College 14
Q&A with Kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt The Nashville native kicked a game-winning 45-yard field goal with 3:26 remaining in the Commodores' 16-14 win.
How did it feel to kick the game-winning field goal?
The kick to end the game was my biggest moment in the game. It was a awesome. It was a good way for me to go out, especially the year before having missed at Tennessee and having that ball hit the post. It would have been hard for me to move on had I missed that kick in the Music City Bowl. So being able to make that kick in my hometown was huge for me.
It is a field goal you still remember step by step?
I was just hoping to get into range on that final drive we had. I'll never forget Mackenzi Adams in that game. He wasn't in much that game, but one of the plays he was, he took a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, which ended up basically putting us in range. Once I knew that, I was mentally ready. When I was called on to go out there, it was just another kick. I went out there and did my normal routine of picking out my spot and going through my steps.
There wasn't much wind at all. It was cold, so I knew I had to put a little better leg on it from 45 because I was a little stiff at the end of the game and the ball doesn't travel as well. If I lined up right and did everything else right, it would go through. In the back of the stance, I was looking at it and it was like everything went silent. You just block everything out and as soon as the snap happens, the process takes 1.2 seconds. It just happens so quick. I remember when I hit it, I felt it come off a little low, but I didn't hear another thud after I hit it and I peaked up and saw it going through. It was awesome.
Besides the kick, what memories stay with you the most from the Music City Bowl?
I remember how cold it was and the win in general. Just the fact that we won the game was awesome. We were an underdog going in. No one really expected us to knock BC off because they were in the ACC Championship game. It was the first bowl game we had been to since 1982 so the fact that we pulled off the win, that was incredible in itself.
It happened to be the special teams and defense that did the scoring, but that is just what that team was. It was a testament to the senior class and overcoming obstacles and how we were going to find a way to win.
What was the bowl experience like?
It was really cool. Every year leading up to that, we had played our last game and then we had a month off to watch the other bowl games. It was terrible sitting at home on the couch. It was really cool for me being in my hometown going to a bowl game here. It was a cool experience.
It was really neat because it really brought us all together. For us seniors to go out that way was just awesome. It was just a different aura with the team that week. We came together and practices were fun because were were practicing in December.
After the game, I went to eat with my family and being in the restaurant and seeing Nashvillians being excited about us winning and city being behind us was awesome.
How excited are you about the state of the program
We see it just like everyone else does. Just the difference on the field and how everyone is acting. It is just different.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt used to be called the worst team in the Southeastern Conference. Cellar dwellers. The private school that just didn't belong in a power football league.
No more. Vanderbilt won a bowl game for the first time in exactly 53 years, with Bryant Hahnfeldt kicking a 45-yard field goal with 3:26 left Wednesday for a 16-14 win over Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
VU hadn't even played in a bowl since 1982 -- the SEC's longest drought. The victory gave the Commodores (7-6) their first winning season since that season.
"I guess everybody can figure out we're pretty happy," coach Bobby Johnson said. "We're thrilled to win the Music City Bowl right here in Nashville in our hometown. ... We kept our composure and made some big plays when we had to. It may not have been the prettiest victory in the whole world, but it is for us now."
This is just the fourth time in the past 50 years that Vanderbilt has won seven games in a season. So maybe it was only appropriate that Hahnfeldt, a Nashville native who grew up only a few miles away from LP Field where this game was played, provided the winning margin.
"It's fantastic for Nashville," said Hahnfeldt, who tied his career-high with three field goals.
Boston College (9-5) had won eight straight bowl games, the nation's longest active streak.
Playing in a bowl for the 10th straight season, the Eagles also missed a chance at finishing with at least 10 wins for a third straight season. BC lost despite giving up only 200 yards and allowing Vanderbilt to convert only one of its 15 third downs.
"Congratulations to Bobby for the bowl win," Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said.
The Eagles got the ball twice after Hahnfeldt's third field goal. They had to punt the first time, then Myron Lewis picked off Dominique Davis with 1:36 left after having been beaten for the TD that put Boston College up 14-13.
"I felt like the game was over, and we won it," Lewis said after his interception.
Vanderbilt had some of its stars of seasons past cheering from the sideline in Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and Chicago Bears teammates Chris Williams and Earl Bennett. PGA Tour golfer Brandt Snedeker also was on hand hoping for his alma mater's first bowl win since beating Auburn 25-13 on Dec. 31, 1955, at the Gator Bowl.
They didn't see much offense against a Boston College defense that came in ranked sixth in the nation in yards allowed and tops in the country in turnovers.
Vanderbilt scored its lone touchdown when freshman Sean Richardson fell on a punt that bounced off the left knee of BC's Paul Anderson with 10:35 left in the third.
Officials huddled, then ruled it a touchdown and a replay review upheld the decision.
"Paul tried getting out of the way there," Jagodzinski said. "We need to have a call from the guy in the back end to get away from it when it bounces, and it hit him. That's how close it is."
Vanderbilt played musical chairs at quarterback, giving redshirt freshman Larry Smith his first career start in the program's biggest game in decades. Chris Nickson also played, and Mackenzi Adams even got in for one play -- on which he was roughed by Eagles linebacker Mark Herzlich, the Atlantic Coast Conference's defensive player of the year, to help set up Hahnfeldt's winning kick.
Herzlich said he was just trying to make a play.
"Either way, it wasn't deliberately late," Herzlich said.
But Eagles end Jim Ramella also was flagged for a face mask on that game-winning drive for Vanderbilt. The two penalties provided 30 of the 48 yards in that drive.
The difference came from VU punter Brett Upson. The bowl MVP averaged 42.6 yards on nine punts with a long of 58. A Vanderbilt defense that ranked second in the SEC for interceptions had two more picks for the game's only turnovers.
Davis, in only his third career start, put the Eagles up 14-13 with a 55-yard TD pass to Colin Larmond Jr. with 6:38 remaining.
"We've got a bunch of young guys playing," Jagodzinski said.
The Commodores opened by scoring field goals of 42 and 26 yards from Hahnfeldt for a 6-0 lead. But the Eagles led 7-6 at halftime thanks to Davis' 4-yard TD pass to Montel Harris with 1:27 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles lost center Matt Tennant to an injured left elbow early in the second and punt returner Rich Gunnel to an injury. Vanderbilt got its best player hurt a play later. All-SEC cornerback D.J. Moore helped break up Davis' pass to Ifeanyi Momah, and safety Ryan Hamilton intercepted the ball at the VU 15. But Momah rolled over Moore's left ankle, and he limped to the sideline.
Moore got his ankle taped and played in the second half but couldn't finish. The junior said after the game he would leave early for the NFL draft.