Nashville, TN – Jordan Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score to help the Vanderbilt Commodores beat the North Carolina State Wolfpack, 38-24, in the Music City Bowl.
Vanderbilt finished with only 225 yards of total offense, but its defense forced five turnovers.
"I didn't think we played a great game, but we made a lot of plays," said Vanderbilt coach James Franklin.
Rodgers was 16-of-25 for 108 yards in Vanderbilt's seventh straight victory.
Zac Stacy had 107 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries for the Commodores (9-4), who tied a school single-season record for wins, last accomplished in 1915.
Mike Glennon amassed 383 passing yards for North Carolina State (7-6), but was picked off three times.
"I think we had good rhythm, but the drives would end in a turnover, and that kills your momentum," Glennon said. "It was just a matter of turning the ball over."
For the seventh time this season, Vanderbilt scored on its opening drive of the game.
The Commodores went 65 yards in 10 plays and Chris Boyd made a spectacular one-handed grab for a 5-yard touchdown. The catch was initially ruled incomplete.
NC State reached enemy territory on its first possession, but the Wolfpack were forced to punt when a bad snap sailed over Glennon's head on third down.
The miscues continued as the next three Wolfpack drives were derailed by turnovers.
The first two giveaways resulted in no points for Vanderbilt.
Facing a 4th-and-4 at the NC State 39 after a Glennon interception, Rodgers was tackled short in his attempt to scramble for a first down. The Commodores then went three-and-out after Johnell Thomas stripped the ball from Shadrach Thornton near midfield.
The third time, however, proved to be the charm.
The Commodores' Darreon Herring dislodged the ball from Asa Watson after a 17- yard reception in the second quarter. Kenny Ladler, who picked off Glennon, returned the fumble 22 yards to the NC State 27.
Four plays later, Stacy, the school's career rushing leader, scored on a 6- yard touchdown run.
Finally able to hold onto the ball, the Wolfpack responded with an 11-play, 84-yard drive that ended with Tony Creecy's 1-yard TD run.
Brian Kimbrow returned the ensuing kickoff across midfield and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was added on at the end of the play, placing the ball at the NC State 32. Vanderbilt stuck with the ground attack and upped its lead to 21-7 on Wesley Tate's 7-yard sprint to the end zone.
The Wolfpack special teams unit had an immediate response as Tobais Palmer returned the subsequent kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. But a second Glennon interception led to Jordan Matthews taking a screen pass 18 yards for a touchdown.
NC State's Niklas Sade missed a 44-yard field goal to close out the first half.
The Wolfpack moved the ball down the field on the first drive of the third quarter, but Trey Wilson picked off Glennon in the end zone. Wilson returned it to the NC State 35 before getting knocked down by a teammate.
The turnover led to a 30-yard Carey Spear field goal.
Sade opened the fourth quarter by connecting on a 24-yard try, and NC State got the ball back after a punt. The Wolfpack, though, turned the ball over on downs at their own 44-yard line.
Rodgers then converted a 4th-and-14 with a pass to Matthews before sealing the win with his 15-yard run.
Glennon threw a late TD pass to Rashard Smith to cap the scoring.
The Commodores improved to 3-2-1 in bowl games, while NC State fell to 14-12-1 ... Glennon completed 35-of-53 passes, eight of which were caught by Palmer for 111 yards ... The Wolfpack were 13-of-19 on third down ... Vanderbilt beat NC State 7-0 in 1946 in the only previous matchup between these programs.