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Vanderbilt Vs. Wake Forest Preview: Can James Frankllin Take All of Nashville Bowling?

Looking for one more breakthrough.
Looking for one more breakthrough.

Vanderbilt Commodores at Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

It says a few things when Wake Forest and Vanderbilt can come into the final game with one team having wrapped up a bowl ticket and the other one still very much alive for one. In part, it tells you that we have too many bowl games, because a team with a .500 record from a major conference is just about guaranteed a spot. But it also tells you how much the sport has changed.

Love him or hate him -- and he's perhaps the most polarizing rookie head coach in the SEC since Lane Kiffin -- James Franklin has so far looked like the man for the job at Vanderbilt. Despite uneven results on the field when the bell sounds, Vanderbilt has just looked and played like a more cohesive unit this year. All of that's subjective, sure, but few observers saw this team getting five wins when the season began, and they already have that.

The question is whether the Commodores can get a little more. A .500 record would virtually assure that Vanderbilt will take its first postseason trip since 2008, a game that snapped a quarter-century long streak without a bowl game. And that would validate the success of Franklin's first season in Nashville, whatever else might be said of it.

Not that either of these offenses is particularly explosive. The Wake Forest unit is built largely on the pass but isn't tearing up the scoreboard in either category, while the mediocre Vanderbilt running game is the only thing keeping the whole offense out of the last ten spots in total offense in the NCAA (barely). The best news might be that the defenses aren't all that great, either.

And while there's always the chance that James Franklin's first season at Vanderbilt has one more "that's why we're Vandy" moment in store, here's hoping that it comes after the bowl invitation is firmly in hand.

Vanderbilt 31, Wake Forest 28

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