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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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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CHA
 
Final
CHI 103
NYK 97
Final
HOU 90
NOP 99
Final
SAC 107
MIL 108
Final
GSW 114
OKC 109
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CHA
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
UTA
 
7:30pm Tonight
CLE
BRK
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
SAN
POR
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
OKC
 
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
Final
UVA 70
CLST 54
Final
LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
Final
CAN 60
USB 59
 
Final
DEL 62
TEMPL 82
Final
WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
Final
SDKST 75
IDST 72
 
Final
RIDE 62
MRGST 48
 
Final
LATU 79
NICST 54
 
Final
CHAR 75
APP 65
Final
MISS 71
CCAR 68
 
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
Final
BRAD 80
EUREK 38
 
Final
PEAY 76
OAKC 52
 
Final
JST 66
SMISS 46
 
Final
SD 55
MNTST 53
 
Final
UAB 70
LSU 79
Final
EVAN 81
OHIO 69
 
Final
CSFU 72
CSDH 50
 
Final
ORST 90
DEP 59
Final
PAC 69
NEV 65
Final
USF 77
PORST 40
 
Final
IDAHO 86
WALLA 39
 
Final
UTST 57
CALST 56
 
1:30pm Today
YOUNG
WILB
 
2:00pm Today
TULA
JST
 
6:00pm Tonight
RAD
SIENA
 
7:00pm Tonight
MERC
COOK
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUCK
CASEWEST
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIB
CPNC
 
7:00pm Tonight
SCAR
CLEM
 
7:00pm Tonight
CMICH
CONC
 
7:00pm Tonight
MIAMI
EKENT
 
7:00pm Tonight
GWEBB
HIWASSEE
 
7:00pm Tonight
ODU
MDES
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NIAG
 
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NCAT
 
7:00pm Tonight
FAM
UNF
 
7:00pm Tonight
NORST
NARZ
 
7:00pm Tonight
DART
NILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
MORE
NKENTUCKY
 
7:00pm Tonight
UCSB
SDCHR
 
7:00pm Tonight
STJ
GAELS
 
7:00pm Tonight
ALA
STILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
HAMP
TENST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENN
TENT
 
7:00pm Tonight
WMARY
WSHMD
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLGC
FUR
 
7:30pm Tonight
CALST
SDKST
 
8:00pm Tonight
MTST
CHAT
 
8:00pm Tonight
NDAK
DICKINSON
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAMON
LSUALEX
 
8:00pm Tonight
PRIN
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAM
MLGN
 
8:00pm Tonight
MINN
SEAT
 
8:00pm Tonight
LOYC
SUTAH
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
WINT
 
8:05pm Tonight
SILL
NO
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
ALAAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
TTU
ARKPB
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
COLST
 
9:00pm Tonight
CREI
TXPA
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
EWASH
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
IDST
 
11:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ARZ
 
11:59pm Tonight
CHAM
HAW
 
Final
PIT 1
COL 0
Final
PHI 1
FLA 2
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
CLB 4
WAS 5
Final
MON 1
ANA 2
Final
SJS 4
EDM 3
Final
LOS 6
STL 4
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
TAM
 
7:30pm Tonight
OTT
ANA
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
NYI
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
BOS
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
DAL
 
Final
JAC 21
TEN 13