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2011 Liberty Bowl Game Preview

Posted by Jason Wermie


2011 Liberty Bowl Game Preview

Cincinnati and Nashville aren’t that far away from each other on a map, but it’s been nearly 20 years since Vanderbilt has played Cincinnati on the footbal field. This year’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl allows these two teams to get re-aquainted on a neutral field, though the Commodores have the luxury of playing in their home state.

These two haven’t played since 1994, a 34-24 Vanderbilt win. The Bearcats last won back in 1976, a 33-7 win on their home field.

The latest Liberty Bowl odds show Vanderbilt favored by 3 points, while the total (over/under) is set at 48 points.

Liberty Bowl Predictions


Cincinnati finished as co-Big East champs with two other teams, finishing 5-2 in conference play. The Bearcats had a six-game winning streak at one point in the season and were 4-2 on the road this year.

The Bearcats enter the game ranked 20th in the country in scoring defense (20 points per game) and surrenders 370 yards of offense per game (270 passing, 100 rushing) while compiling 38 sacks and forcing 27 turnovers four of which have been returned for touchdowns (J.K. Schaffer and Maalik Bomar, fumbles; Camerron Cheatham and Dominique Battle, interceptions).

Schaffer leads the unit with 94 tackles (31 more than anyone else), adding 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two recoveries, while Derek Wolfe has seven sacks, 54 tackles, two forced fumbles and two recoveries. Walter Steward has three forced fumbles and Deven Drane has three interceptions.

Cincinnati enters the game ranked 28th in the country in scoring offense (33 ppg) while racking up 393 yards per game (218 passing, 175 rushing). Zach Collaros completes 63 percent of his passes for 1.860 yards and 14 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The offensive line has allowed 16 sacks.

Kenbrell Thompkins and Anthony McClung pace the receiving corps with 84 combined catches for 1,069 yards and five TDs, while Isaiah Pead anchors the running game with 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.6 yards per carry.


It’s been an up-and-down season for Vanderbilt, who opened the season 3-0 before losing five of their next six and then winning three-straight to end the season and finish bowl-eligible, despite a 2-6 record in SEC play. It is worth noting that four of their losses game against teams currently in the top-25. The Commodores were just 1-4 in road games this season, but did earn a 5-3 record in their home state of Tennessee, where this game will be played..

Vandy ranks 27th nationally in scoring defense (21 ppg) and allows 325 yards per game (202 passing, 123 rushing) while recording 24 sacks and forcing 27 turnovers four of which were returned for TDs (Trey Wilson, Casey Hayward and Archibald Barnes, four interceptions).

Chris Marve leads the way with 84 tackles (26 more than anyone else) with a sack, a forced fumble and an interception, while Tim Fugger leads the team with 6.5 sacks and three forced fumbles to go with 29 tackles. Hayward has five interceptions and Barnes has three forced fumbles.

On offense, Vandy ranks 61st nationally in points scored (27 ppg) while recording 343 yards per game (175 passing, 168 rushing). Zac Stacy anchors the running game with 1,136 yards and 13 TDs on 6.2 yards per carry.

Jordan Rodgers completes 51 percent of his passes for 1,498 yards and nine TDs with nine INTs. The offensive line has allowed 26 sacks. Jordan Matthews is the top receiver with 37 receptions for 722 yards and five TDs, while Chris Boyd has 29 catches for 4-4 yards and seven scores.

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