Birmingham, AL - In the heart of SEC country, the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Houston Cougars will face-off for the first time in their histories in the 8th Annual BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham on January 4th.
Vanderbilt will be making a historic third consecutive bowl appearance while Houston will be playing in its eighth bowl game in the past 11 seasons.
The Commodores are 3-2-1 overall in bowl games with two wins in the last 5 years. Previously, a 1955 season Gator Bowl win was the school's only bowl victory in 11 decades of football from 1890 to 2007.
The Cougars are 9-11-1 all-time in bowl games, but victories in the 2008 Armed Forces Bowl and 2011 TicketCIty Bowl are their only bowl wins in their last 11 tries.
The BBVA Compass Bowl is scheduled for 1 p.m. (EST) kickoff at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. and will air nationally on ESPN and ESPN Radio.
Vanderbilt (8-4 overall, 4-4 SEC) posted its second consecutive 8-win season for the first time since 1927 and is now 15-4 in its last 19 games after closing the 2012 season with 7 straight victories. That impressive streak includes a 38-24 win over N.C. State in last year's Music City Bowl.
The Commodores posted wins in 2013 over Georgia, Florida and Tennessee for the first time in the same season in school history.
Vanderbilt has played sparingly at Legion Field in the last 30-plus years with a loss there to Air Force in the 1982 edition of the Hall-Of-Fame Classic, and losses to Alabama in regular season games in 1998 and 2000.
James Franklin is in his third season as the head coach at Vanderbilt and was a finalist in 2012 for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year Award.
Houston finished 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the American Athletic Conference. As a member of Conference USA prior to its change this year, the Cougars were 2-3 vs. UAB since 1999, and 0-2 vs. Alabama in 1997 and 1999.
The Cougars are led by second-year head coach Tony Levine. Levine was named Houston’s coach on December 22, 2011 and coached the Cougars to a 30-14 victory over Penn State in the 2011 season Ticket City Bowl.
Vanderbilt was 5th in the 14-team SEC in total defense this season, but just 12th in offense. Houston ranked 5th in the 10-tam American on offense and next-to-last on defense.
Vanderbilt QB Austyn Carta-Samuels, a Wyoming transfer, threw for 2,268 yards 11 TD's and 9 INT's in 10 games. Houston QB John O'Korn passed for 2,889 yards, 26 scores and 8 picks.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com give Houston a slight 0.95-point advantage for the 5th-closest margin of all 35 postseason games.