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Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. Houston (8-4)



Saturday, January 4, 1 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The eighth annual BBVA Compass Bowl is set for Saturday afternoon at Legion Field, as the Vanderbilt Commodores take on the Houston Cougars.

Vanderbilt's season started off rather modestly, getting out to just a 3-3 record in the first six games, but the squad caught fire down the stretch with wins in five of its last six, including four in a row to close out the regular season. The Commodores have now earned a bowl bid in each of head coach James Franklin's first three seasons at the helm. The program had qualified for just four bowl games in its history prior to 2011.

"We are fired up to be in Birmingham," Franklin said. "We couldn't be more excited about being here."

After missing out on bowl season in 2012, Houston bounced back nicely in 2013 with an 8-4 record, including a 5-3 mark in the American Athletic Conference, to qualify for postseason play for the eighth time in the past 11 years. The Cougars hit a slide late in the season by losing three straight games, but they rebounded nicely by blanking SMU on their home field, 34-0.

"We are very excited about our bowl game for a number of reasons," Houston coach Tony Levine said. "To play in a January bowl game is certainly an honor. It will be fun for us to go against Vanderbilt. (We have) great respect for them, the job they've done and are doing, especially as a member of the Southeastern Conference."

Although Vanderbilt ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in both scoring offense (29.2 ppg) and total offense (366.7 ypg), it still produce one of the best single-season outputs in school history. The unit tapered off down the stretch, however, scoring an average of just 19.7 points over the last three games.

The offense revolves around First Team All-SEC receiver Jordan Matthews, who hauled in 107 passes for 1,334 yards and five touchdowns. With an outstanding senior season, Matthews became the league's all-time leader in both receptions (257) and receiving yards (3,616).

Austyn Carta-Samuels (.687, 2,268 yards, 11 TDs, nine INTs) was responsible for getting the ball to Matthews this season, but he will miss this matchup with a knee injury. Patton Robinette will get the nod instead, and he completed 58 percent of his passes for 488 yards and eight touchdowns (six rushing) in limited action this season.

The modest rushing attack is paced by Jerron Seymour, who gained 627 yards on 144 carries with a real nose for the end zone, crossing the plane 13 times.

Defensively, the Commodores allow 24.7 ppg and 352.3 ypg while generating 26 turnovers. The unit played its best ball over the final three games of the season, holding Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest to a combined 37 points (12.3 ppg).

Kenny Ladler (87 tackles, five INTs, five FF) and Andre Hal (40 tackles, two INTs) were both selected to the All-SEC Second Team, but Hal is listed as questionable for this contest with an undisclosed injury. Walker May (8.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks), Kyle Woestmann (6.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks) and Caleb Azubike (9.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks) are all solid performers along the Vandy defensive line.

Houston enjoyed plenty of offensive success this season, averaging 33.9 ppg (second in AAC) on 422.5 ypg.

John O'Korn proved to be one of the nation's top freshman signal callers, completing 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,889 yards with 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.

A large chunk of O'Korn's success can be attributed to the chemistry he formed with Deontay Greenberry, who was named a First Team All-AAC honoree after tallying 76 receptions for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns. The sophomore is battling a leg injury, but he is listed as probable. Daniel Spencer (50 receptions, 764 yards, six TDs) has proven himself to be a reliable target as well.

Although the Cougars called nearly as many run plays (408) as pass plays (469), they didn't have anywhere near the same level of success (138.4 rushing ypg). Ryan Jackson (655 yards, six TDs) and Kenneth Farrow (486 yards, five TDs) split the bulk of the carries to moderate success.

Just as important to Houston's overall performance was the play of its defense, which ranked fourth in the AAC in allowing just 20.2 ppg. The unit was the most opportunistic in the country with 40 takeaways, which was five more than second-place Tulane.

Efrem Oliphant (123 tackles, 12.5 TFL), Derrick Mathews (110 tackles, 12.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks) and Trevon Stewart (99 tackles) each racked up the stops, while Stewart was also a difference-making presence in the turnover battle with four interceptions, two forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. Adrian McDonald (five INTs, FR), Zach McMillian (four INTs, FF) and Thomas Bates (two INTs, two FF) are also integral pieces to the defensive puzzle for Houston.

Vanderbilt played its most impressive football of the season down the stretch, especially defensively, but playing with its backup quarterback against the nation's premier ball-hawking defense is a recipe for disaster. Expect the Cougars to put forth a strong all-around effort in claiming their second straight bowl win.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Houston 30, Vanderbilt 20

12/31 11:42:01 ET

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Local
Final
NCCU 21
NCA 14
 
Final
DAVID 72
UNC 90
Final
ECU 34
TULA 6
 
1st
COL 0
CAR 1
 
9:30pm Tonight
DUKE
STAN
4th
ORL 81
MIA 91
 
4th
IND 83
PHO 103
 
3rd
NYK 62
PHI 45
 
3rd
CLE 65
TOR 70
 
Half
HOU 60
DAL 51
 
Half
MIN 52
SAC 48
 
2nd
SAN 40
BRK 22
 
2nd
MIL 37
WAS 23
 
1st
UTA 7
NOP 6
 
Final
UGA 55
CHSO 9
Final
UF 52
EKU 3
Final
OSU 42
IND 27
Final
OKLA 44
KU 7
 
Final
UAB 18
MARS 23
Final
NEB 24
MINN 28
 
Final
PURD 14
NW 38
 
Final
ILL 16
PSU 14
Final
MSU 45
RUTG 3
Final
UCF 53
SMU 7
 
Final
SCAR 37
SALABAMA 12
Final
WKENT 45
TXSANANTO 7
 
Final
WAKE 6
VT 3
 
Final
ODU 30
LATU 27
 
Final
ARST 52
WASU 31
 
Final
CMICH 20
WMICH 32
 
Final
COLST 58
NMU 20
Final
LALAF 16
APPST 35
Final
BST 45
EMICH 30
Final
HOU 38
TULSA 28
Final
UTAH 10
ARZ 42
 
Final
FSU 20
BC 17
 
Final
UNT 17
FIU 14
 
Final
CLEM 28
GASTATE 0
 
Final
ND 28
LOU 31
 
Final
MICH 16
MD 23
 
Final
ARK 30
MISS 0
 
Final
PITT 30
SYR 7
 
Final
ISU 31
TTU 34
 
Final
ECU 34
TULA 6
 
Final
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WISC 26
 
Final
MEM 31
SFLA 20
 
Final
CAL 17
STAN 38
 
Final
NMST 17
LAMON 30
 
Final
ALA 48
WCAR 14
 
Final
OREG 44
COL 10
 
3rd
MTST 21
FATL 27
 
3rd
UVA 13
MIAMI 7
 
3rd
AUB 23
SAMF 7
 
Half
TENN 13
MIZZ 13
 
Half
BAY 28
OKST 14
 
Half
MSST 37
VANDY 0
 
2nd
UCONN 0
CIN 14
 
2nd
UCLA 14
USC 14
 
10:15pm Tonight
WYO
BSU
10:30pm Tonight
NEV
FRES
10:30pm Tonight
WASH
ORST
11:00pm Tonight
HAW
UNLV
Final
PRIN 68
INCWORD 79
 
Final
UMASS 68
ND 81
Final
GEOR 80
RMU 66
 
Final
LAS 59
PETE 50
Final
VT 63
APP 65
 
Final
IUPUI 71
BST 69
 
Final
WMICH 91
DRAK 75
 
Final
RICH 80
HIGH 56
 
Final
MSST 71
UTST 63
Final
CAMP 48
COL 54
 
Final
DAVID 72
UNC 90
Final
NIOWA 66
UNF 49
 
Final
CSNO 79
SAMF 72
 
Final
YALE 61
MLOWELL 63
 
Final
NEV 50
CLEM 59
Final
PROV 80
FSU 54
 
Final
MARQ 89
NEOM 97
Final
DET 66
SALA 53
 
Final
TXSA 80
TXST 67
 
Final
CHIST 75
TRINCHRIS 52
 
Final
UMO 63
LIB 52
 
Final
BONA 59
CAN 53
 
Final
SAV 87
CLST 83
 
Final
NW 68
ELON 67
 
Final
RFLSH 57
MDES 53
 
Final
CARK 68
SEMIZ 74
 
Final
AFA 90
WSCO 60
 
Final
YOUNG 82
LONG 72
 
Final
MTST 66
SOUTH 48
 
Final
ARKLR 73
UMKC 68
 
Final
ABCHRIST 81
DUQ 102
 
Final
WEBER 58
LSU 72
 
Final
BUT 80
GHND 39
 
Final
CSFU 70
SJST 66
 
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WOFF 72
SD 68
 
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TXSOU 66
 
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COOK 42
TOWS 63
 
Final
SILL 46
YALE 53
 
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ALCOR 80
 
Final
MAN 78
BING 63
 
Final
JVST 88
MILES 71
 
Final
CSOU 79
WRST 86
 
Final
CITA 81
BOBJONES 50
 
Final
INDST 78
BRO 66
 
Final
WYO 56
COL 33
 
Final
GSOUT 97
FCCOL 41
 
Final
CCAR 76
PIED 33
 
Final
LATU 63
AMER 44
 
Final
MAR 62
ARMY 76
 
Final
TENT 69
CHAT 67
 
Final
EKENT 115
CLERMONT 50
 
Final
SMU 77
EWASH 68
 
Final
NIAG 62
HART 65
 
Final
PENN 77
LAF 83
 
Final
UCSB 91
MASTERS 45
 
Final
BUCK 69
MNTER 73
 
Final
VMI 93
UNCW 110
 
1st OT
RIU 59
NEB 55
 
Final
NKENTUCKY 98
OHMWSTRN 48
 
1st OT
GTDNS 68
QUIN 70
 
Final
EMICH 70
UNCG 62
 
Final
ETST 98
UNCA 87
 
Final
TEMPL 50
UNLV 57
 
Final
STJOE 68
VERM 60
 
Final
MON 65
CCST 50
 
2nd
KSU 76
ILLCH 53
 
Final
FAIR 60
SHSU 74
 
2nd
LIP 64
TRANSYLVAN 49
 
2nd
FUR 55
UCD 57
 
2nd
WKENT 49
BEL 35
 
2nd
NDST 40
HAMP 44
 
2nd
IND 52
LAM 42
 
2nd
TTU 44
MIZST 44
 
2nd
HOU 46
MRGST 32
 
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NAVY 31
NE 47
 
2nd
ALAAM 51
OAKW 28
 
2nd
WILL 23
SELA 25
 
2nd
TULA 51
SONO 24
 
2nd
TXPA 46
A 40
 
2nd
RICE 32
WMARY 42
 
1st
TXARL 36
HOUB 16
 
1st
MINN 26
UMBC 25
 
1st
UTEP 0
NMST 6
 
1st
GONZ 12
STTHOM 10
 
1st
SUTAH 8
WLVRN 8
 
9:30pm Tonight
PBY
MORE
9:30pm Tonight
DUKE
STAN
10:00pm Tonight
WISC
BSU
10:00pm Tonight
PORT
SIUE
Final
OTT 2
STL 3
3rd
WAS 1
BUF 1
 
3rd
PHI 4
CLB 2
 
3rd
TOR 1
DET 1
 
3rd
TAM 2
MIN 1
 
3rd
BOS 0
MON 2
 
3rd
NYI 2
PIT 1
 
2nd
NAS 0
FLA 0
 
1st Intermission
DAL 3
LOS 0
 
1st
COL 0
CAR 1
 
10:00pm Tonight
EDM
CHI
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
NJD
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
ARI
Final
NCCU 21
NCA 14