What better way to cap an outstanding season than one last stand in your home city?
Even before game time, the excitement in the air for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl was palpable. Many fans sporting black and gold braved the cold morning temperatures to tailgate in several of the parking lots and areas surrounding LP Field prior to kickoff.
LP Field's atmosphere and location across the river helped to fuel the excitement.
"The atmosphere today (was) great", said Commodore fan Jerry Heath. "I've been a Vanderbilt fan since I was a kid and grew up here in Nashville. A few of us got a hotel room downtown last night and just walked over earlier today to tailgate. We know a few of the players' families, so we always tailgate with them."
Many of the loyal Commodore fans also expressed enthusiasm with the turn Vanderbilt football has taken since Head Coach James Franklin took the reins in 2011. It's clear that the city of Nashville has also taken notice.
"Obviously, back-to-back bowl games is unprecedented for us, but today has been great", said Dick Sesler of Nashville. "I think Vanderbilt's finally getting some attention in the area, a lot more than they traditionally have."
Thanks to an early spark in a remarkable catch from Chris Boyd, followed by Vanderbilt consistently capitalizing on opportunities throughout the game, the excitement in the crowd never dampened, even as a few snow flurries began to fall. Fans are optimistic going into the offseason, and the outlook for Franklin's program is bright.
Q&A with Jordan Matthews Take me through your fourth-down conversion at the end of the game?
I knew I had to get to the sticks and I knew he was going to throw it to my back shoulder and outside. I know he took a hit, but that throw was in a great position where only I could be there and I was able to bring it in.
I think only one word can describe that whole play: trust. Coach Franklin trusts me, and so does Jordan. Jordan threw a great pass.
How much momentum does a win like this give a program?
I think this is just a preview of what Vanderbilt can do. A win streak like this doesn't happen often. To be able to take our momentum through the season and win against a great team like NC State shows great maturity.
What did you think about Chris Boyd's touchdown catch?
Chris is good for a SportsCenter Top 10 (play) every week. He's a great athlete and he makes the most of his opportunities. He's humble and he comes to work every day.
What enabled you to get that touchdown in the first half?
I didn't have to do much. Jordan put it where it had to be and the line blocked tremendously. All I had to do was break one tackle.
What does this win mean?
This is an epic win. It's great for the team to end the season on that kind of win streak. We've shown character, and the type of energy Coach Franklin has been able to bring in is great. I love this team.