The BBVA Compass Bowl used to be the PapaJohns.com Bowl, but fortunately we don't have to actually write out or say "dot com" when referring to the name of the bowl anymore, because that just sounds silly (sorry, Go Daddy). Now the bank sponsors it, and the game will pit two power conference teams against each other -- the AAC against the SEC. Historically, the game has been a blowout, with just one of the seven being decided by less than a touchdown.
Date and time, ET: Jan. 4, 2014, 1 p.m.
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Birmingham, Ala.
Stadium: Legion Field -- capacity 71,594
Tickets: Find available seats here.
Last year's score: Ole Miss 38, Pittsburgh 17
Last year's attendance: 59,326
Last year's TV rating: 1.9
Last year's payout for each school: $1 million for SEC, $900,000 for AAC (Big East at the time)
Team with the most all-time appearances: Pittsburgh (1-2)
Team with the most all-time wins: Seven tied with one
Houston (8-4, 5-3 AAC)
It could feel like a season of lost opportunities for the Cougars, as they finished 8-4 in 2013 and it was nearly much better than that. Houston lost each of its games by seven points or fewer with first year quarterback John O’Korn at the helm, and three of those losses came to the only three teams above them in the AAC standings this year. If a few things bounced differently, it could be Houston atop the conference rather than UCF. Still, those eight wins were enough to get the Cougars back to the postseason for the first time since 2011, when Kevin Sumlin led the Cougars to a 12-1 record and the Ticket City Bowl.
Sophomore wide receiver Deontay Greenberry is the one of the nation’s most underrated receivers, and will be worth keeping an eye on all game. As O’Korn’s preferred target, he reeled in 76 catches for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. Defensively, the Cougars are led by Derrick Mathews, a junior linebacker who paces them with seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss, to go with 110 tackles.
Last bowl game: 2012 Ticket City Bowl vs. Penn State, 30-14 win
All-time bowl record: 9-11-1
Head coach's bowl record: Tony Levine, 1-0
Vanderbilt (8-4, 4-4 SEC)
James Franklin has Vanderbilt bowling for the third straight year, which is a heck of a streak considering that the program had only been to four bowls prior to his arrival. The Commodores won eight games during the regular season thanks to a four-game winning streak to end the campaign, including road wins at Florida and Tennessee.
The Commodores saw their running game suffer in the absence of Zac Stacy, who graduated following the 2012 season. Stacy ran for more than 1,100 yards in his final two seasons, and that production proved difficult to replace. Leading rusher Jerron Seymour had a decent year, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but the team has just 1,596 yards on the ground.
Fortunately, Vanderbilt still has Jordan Matthews to rely on. He enters the bowl game with 1,334 receiving yards on 107 receptions.
Last bowl game: 2012 Music City Bowl vs. NC State, 38-24 win
Last year without a bowl: 2010
All-time bowl record: 3-2-1
Head coach's bowl record: James Franklin, 1-1