If you are looking for some action just before the first round of the NFL playoffs kick off on January 4, the BBVA Compass Bowl is perfect for you. We look into the odds on offer for this matchup to help you decide where you should place your College Football picks.
Yet another fairly new bowl game to be living under its
third different name -- Birmingham Bowl, PapaJohn's Bowl -- and soon its
fourth, this year's event pits the Vanderbilt Commodores out of the SEC against
the Houston Cougars of Conference USA. Legion Field in Birmingham
is the site for the 1 PM (ET) contest, with the opening game of the NFL's Wild
Card Round coming on just as the BBVA Compass Bowl ends.
Join SBR's NCAAF Bowl Contest and make the most of this year's Bowl season.
It's the first ever gridiron meeting for the Commodores and
Cougars, and Vandy has been installed as a field goal favorite. College football odds for the match also
include a 54 point total, down a half from the opening bell.
'Dores Go Bowling For
James Franklin is batting 1.000 at Vanderbilt as he prepares
to take his team to a bowl game for the third straight year since he took over
the first time the Commodores have made three successive postseason
appearances. Vanderbilt (8-4 straight
up, 6-6 against the spread) finished a level 4-4 in conference play, and enters
the BBVA Compass Bowl with a 4-game win streak, covering three of those
Defense is the strength of this year's Commodore crew,
ranking 25th in the country in total yards allowed (351.1 ypg) and 21st in fewest
passing (204.3 ypg). The stop unit could
be missing a couple of key players in the backfield, however, as starting cornerback
Andre Hal is questionable due to a shoulder injury and safety Andrew Williamson
is listed with the same status due to a leg injury. Hal was tied for fifth on the team with 40
tackles and also picked off two passes.
Austyn Carta-Samuels directed a very average offense at
quarterback, completing nearly 69% of his passes but registering a poor 11/9
TD-to-interception ratio. His favorite
target has been fellow senior Jordan Matthews who led all SEC receivers with
107 catches, 4th-most in the country.
It's not a spectacular offensive line in front of
Carta-Samuels, allowing 32 sacks and also rating poorly in run blocking. The line might be without starting right
tackle Andrew Jelks, an All-SEC Freshman team selection. Jelks didn't play in the season finale vs. Wake Forest,
and is questionable at this time for the Houston
Cougs Back In Bowl
After 1-Year Absence
Tony Levine just completed his second season at UH, guiding
the Cougars back into the bowl season following a 5-7 mark in 2012. Levine took over at Houston (8-4 SU, 10-2
ATS) at the end of the 2011 season when Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M,
and coached the team to a 30-14 win over Penn State
in the Ticket City Bowl.
The Cougars appeared to be a player for the C-USA title
after they got off to a 7-1 overall start in 2013, including a 4-0 mark in
conference play. But then came a tough
stretch in November when UH dropped three straight close affairs, two of them
on the road to ranked Central Florida and Louisville
passing attack, directed by true freshman John O'Korn, sits 25th in the nation
averaging 284 yards per game through the air. O'Korn threw for nearly 2,900 yards with 26 TDs against eight INTs, and
the good news is he should have his top receiver for the bowl game with Deontay
Greenberry listed as probable. Greenberry was one of 16 college players to average at least 100 yards
per game, racking up more than 1,100 yards receiving despite missing the season
finale vs. SMU with a leg injury.
On the defensive side, the Cougars allowed 420 yards per
game which has them near the bottom of that column, but it was more of a bend, don't break unit since they
surrendered only 20.2 PPG, 16th fewest in the country. Houston
also led the nation by forcing 40 turnovers, easily putting the Cougars atop
the turnover margin list (+25).
This matchup has the makings to be an entertaining game, and
my crystal ball suggests it comes down to a late boot to decide it. I'm adding the Cougars plus the points to my college football picks.
My pick: Houston +3