In a battle between two teams from the the Southeastern Conference and the American Athletic Conference, the Vanderbilt Commodores will meet the Houston Cougars in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 4 in Birmingham, Ala. It is the only college football bowl game on the day and one of the final three of the season. Houston will get $900,000 for the game while Vanderbilt with get a $1 million payout.
Vanderbilt, 8-4 overall and 4-4 in SEC play, beat North Carolina State, 38-24, in the 2012 Music City Bowl. Houston, 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the AAC, beat Penn State, 30-14, in the 2012 Ticket City Bowl.
The bowl will feature two incredibly talented receivers, Jordan Matthews for Vandy and Deontay Greenberry for the Cougars. Last year the Ole Miss Rebels played the Pittsburgh Panthers in the game. The Rebels went on to win 38-17 and add another trophy to their collection.
The BBVA Compass Bowl is tied for the last SEC bowl to select this year. That’s an important thing to keep in mind. Part of that is a function of all but two of the SEC’s bowl-eligible teams at least equaling the 8-4 record that the Commodores have, part of that is a function of the Music City Bowl not wanting Vanderbilt, and part of it is a function of the Liberty Bowl trying to dodge a repeat SEC participant. Still, it’s hard for Vanderbilt fans to swallow getting bumped down to the lowest rung of the bowl ladder after the year that they had.
Houston, as you might expect, has a prolific passing attack matched with a lackluster rushing offense and a pocketful of rabbit’s feet. The Cougars lead the nation in turnover margin, averaging an edge of 2.1 turnovers a game. The team with the next-highest turnover margin is up by an average of 1.3 a game. However, 23 of the turnovers were interceptions, which are less lucky than fumble recoveries.