BBVA COMPASS BOWL STORYLINES
1. Houston and Vanderbilt meet at the BBVA Compass Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 4 without important pieces of the offense. Commodores senior quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who started the last three regular-season games, will not play after having surgery on his left knee. Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham took the same position at Texas Christian after the regular season, leaving assistant head coach Travis Bush to return to play-calling duties.
2. Vanderbilt extended its streak to nine straight November wins, finishing the regular season with four straight victories - including the last two by a combined six points. The Cougars lost all four of their games by seven points or fewer, including three straight in November before ending the season with a 34-0 victory over Southern Methodist.
3. The Houston defense - ranked first in the country in takeaways (40) and turnover margin (plus-25) - will have its hands full with Jordan Matthews, the SEC's record-breaking receiver. The Cougars also have a 1,000-yard receiver in Deontay Greenberry.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Vanderbilt -2.5
ABOUT VANDERBILT (8-4, 4-4 SEC): Redshirt freshman Patton Robinette (40-of-69, 488 yards, two touchdowns, six rushing scores) made two starts for the Commodores, who are playing in their third straight bowl game for the first time in school history. Matthews broke his own single-season school record with 1,334 yards and owns Vanderbilt and SEC marks for career receptions (257), career yards (3,616), 100-yard games (18) and single-season receptions (107). Carta-Samuels, who injured his knee Oct. 19 and missed two games before returning, had the surgery after the regular season ended so he would be ready to participate in this spring's pro day activities.
ABOUT HOUSTON (8-4, 5-3 American Athletic Conference): Freshman John O'Korn, who started the last 10 games, went 239-of-399 for 2,889 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Adrian McDonald had five of the team's 23 interceptions and Trevon Stewart recovered six of the 17 fumbles. Bush called plays for 11 games in 2012 and was promoted to offensive coordinator - the Cougars' seventh in six years - Dec. 6.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 24, Houston 20