The Vanderbilt Commodores finished off the 2013 season in strong fashion, winning four consecutive games after starting the season with a mediocre 4-4 record. It looks like the Commodores are one of the best underdogs in the nation.
On the other side of the field, the Houston Cougars finished their season in nearly the exact opposite way that the Commodores did. Houston lost three of its last four games after beginning the season with an impressive 7-1 record and a chance to compete for a conference title.
Vanderbilt has an offense that won’t blown anyone away, but it has been good enough to account for eight wins on the 2013 season. The Commodores are led by quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels who has passed for 2,268 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year to go along with a 68.7 percent completion rate and nine touchdowns. Jordan Matthews has been his favorite target, catching 107 passes for 1,334 yards but just five touchdowns. The run game hasn’t been nearly as impressive, ranking 98th in the nation.
Houston has one of the best passing offenses for a smaller program. Led by freshman quarterback John O’Korn, the Cougars rank 25th in the nation in passing yards per game. O’Korn has passed for 2,889 yards and 26 touchdowns on the year, hitting Deontay Greenberry 76 times for 1,106 yards to go along with an impressive 10 touchdowns. Daniel Spencer ranks second on the team with 50 catches for 764 yards and six scores. Like the Commodores, the Cougars’ run game is not very solid, ranking 92nd in the nation.
Defensively, the Commodores have been a bit above average this season. Vanderbilt ranks 45th in the nation in points allowed per game while also ranking 34th in yards allowed per game. Houston has been a bit worse on defense, ranking 16th in points allowed per game, but 76th in yards allowed per contest.
Vanderbilt and Houston will face off in the 2014 Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., at 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, Jan. 4. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 24, Houston 28
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.