2014 BBVA Compass Bowl Preview

January 3, 2014

Saturday begins the short part of the bowl season where I actually feel bad for the teams playing.

Despite the fact that the four college football teams playing over the weekend qualified for the postseason just like every other school, their games will be heavily overshadowed by the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend. And how can you blame fans of football? The better games during both Saturday and Sunday are being played by the professionals.

Still, I give a short preview of these forgotten bowl games just in case anyone is diehard enough to watch them. I am, but I’ll at least level with you and agree that these games should have been played earlier in the bowl season.

Here is the preview for the BBVA Compass Bowl.

BBVA Compass Bowl (Saturday, 1 PM ET – ESPN)

Vanderbilt vs. Houston

The Commodores are making their third consecutive bowl appearance, which is a school record. James Franklin’s team will take on the Houston Cougars, who surprised many with an eight win campaign in the team’s inaugural season with the American Athletic Conference. This is a classic matchup between a team with a good offense and another with a strong defense. Can you guess which one is which? Hint: it’s not a trick question.

If you guessed that Vanderbilt was the squad that has the strong defense, then congratulations, you are correct. One of the main reasons that Coach Franklin’s team finished 8-4 this season is a defense that is solid in every aspect. However, statistics make the Commodores look a little better than they might truly be. Although the team has eight victories, only one came against a team with a winning record. In addition, Vanderbilt gave up at least 35 points in every loss this season. The absence of quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels for this game could make things even more difficult for an offense that averages just 366.7 yards per contest. In other words, the defense better come ready to bail out the offense.

Houston is the offensively talented team in this matchup, but there are concerns that the Cougars may also be hiding behind some favorable statistics. Tony Levine’s squad dropped three out of four games in November to fall out of contention for the AAC crown, and the Cougars failed to crack the 20 point barrier in each of those three losses. However, the losses came against the top three teams in the conference, and Houston lost all four of its games by seven points or fewer this season. Freshman quarterback John O’Korn must find a way to hit his receivers against a defense that ranked No. 21 nationally in average passing yards allowed per game.

Vanderbilt may have the slightly better team in this one, but with the exception of a victory over Georgia the Commodores haven’t proven they are able to hang with quality competition this season. Houston has and will not be intimidated by the SEC squad. I think that the Cougars will at the very least keep this game close and I’ll take the AAC squad to win this matchup in a game decided by a touchdown. I have Houston for 4 points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 24-17 Houston

If you’d like to share your opinion on Around The Corn for any of the upcoming bowls, shoot me an email with your thoughts and prediction to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. Or you can like Around The Corn’s Facebook page or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. As long as you send your thoughts at least two games before the game is to be played, I can assure you that your thoughts will show up in an article.

– K. Becks

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