BBVA Compass Bowl Primer: Vanderbilt vs. Houston
Missed opportunities have put Vanderbilt and Houston in this position. But it isn’t all bad.
Vanderbilt can make history while showing that giving their coach James Franklin a contract extension last year was a smart move. Houston can carry the momentum into the 2014 season. This game could prove to be a big step forward for the young Cougars.
Motivation: In history of the Vanderbilt football program, the Commodores have had only three nine-win seasons. No coach at Vanderbilt has ever led his team to back-to-back nine-win seasons. So for the 2013 Commodores, not only will winning the BBVA Compass Bowl give them a fourth nine-win season, but the first back-to-back bowl wins as well.
If You’ve Never Seem Them: If you love watching games that are decided in the last minute, then you’ll truly enjoying watching Vanderbilt. After losing their season opener to Ole Miss in a back-and-forth game in the final minute, the Commodores managed to win their last two games of the season with only seconds left. Vanderbilt just loves to keep their fans on the edge of the seat.
Weakness: The Commodores’ defense has struggled all year getting off the field. Opponents have converted 40 percent of the time on third downs, while moving the sticks on fourth down 59 percent of the time. If Vanderbilt wants to stay in this game, they’ll have to make stops on third and fourth down, especially against a high-scoring offense like Houston.
Motivation: The Cougars have always been known for their offense. That will get put to the test on Saturday as they take on Vanderbilt, a tough SEC team. This is a young team that has a lot of talent, and could make a run for the AAC title next year. Winning this game will gave Houston a huge confidence boost for next year.
If You’ve Never Seem Them: Houston lost all four of their games by seven points or less. Basically, if they had an inch here and an inch there, the Cougars might have been in the driver's seat for a BCS bowl game. Lead by freshman quarterback John O’Corn, the Houston offense averages more than 420 yards and 33 points per game. But their inexperience also affected them in the fourth quarter. In the four losses, they only scored a combined 13 points in the final act.
Weakness: The old cliché is offense wins ball games, defense wins championships. Well that’s why Houston isn’t playing for a championship this year. The Cougars defense have struggled all season, allowing opponents to gain 420 yards per game and hold the ball for nearly 10 minutes more than the Houston offense. The defense has also struggled to make adjustments early in the game, which puts pressure on the young Cougars offense.
Las Vegas Hilton Line: Vanderbilt -2.5.