WHO: 8-4 Vanderbilt (SEC) vs. 8-4 Houston (AAC)
WHAT: BBVA Compass Bowl (8th year)
WHERE: Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.
WHEN: Jan. 4 at 1 p.m. ET
WHY: For Vanderbilt, this bowl business is suddenly becoming old hat. The Commodores are in their third consecutive bowl after making it just four previous times in their history. This is the first time Vandy — winner of five of its last six to close out the regular season — will be playing in a bowl after Jan. 1.
The Cougars, meanwhile, are looking for their first bowl victory since 2009 and are trying to snap out of a late-season funk that saw them lose three of their last four.
Vandy doesn’t shine in any particular area. Its offense is ranked 94th in yards per game and is 66th in points per game, but the Commodores are opportunistic, play tough defense (24th nationally in total defense) and don’t hurt themselves. Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels has 2,268 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions and has also rushed for five scores. His main target is all-star wide out Jordan Matthews, who has 107 catches for 1,334 yards and five touchdowns. He catches everything he touches. Leading rusher Jerron Seymour has 635 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Houston is led by freshman quarterback John O’Korn, who has 2,889 passing yards with 26 TDs and just eight picks. Many of his passes went to wide out Deontay Greenberry, who caught 76 balls for 1,106 yards and 10 scores. But the calling card for these Cougars is a stingy scoring defense. Houston is 13th in scoring defense (20 ppg) despite finishing next-to-last in the American Athletic Conference in total yards allowed. Junior linebacker Efrem Oliphant leads the team with 123 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss while linebacker Derrick Matthews has 12 tackles for loss and a team-leading seven sacks.
With a victory over Houston, Vandy can tie its program record for most wins in a season. However, a win for the Cougars over an SEC team would be a great way to cap their season. Look for the Commodores to be their usual scrappy selves and pull this one out.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 27, Houston 20
After stumbling to a 1-3 start to the season, Oklahoma could be looking at a fresh start as they kick off Big 12 play this weekend. Unfortunately for the Sooners, at least defensively, they’ll do so at less than full strength defensively.
Wednesday, it was confirmed that, despite coming off a bye weekend, linebacker Tay Evans and defensive end Matt Dimon (pictured, left) will not play in Saturday’s game against TCU. Both will be sidelined with unspecified injuries.
Evans was injured in the second quarter of the Week 3 loss to Ohio State and didn’t return. Dimon didn’t play at all in the second half of that game because of his unspecified injury.
Evans has started all three games of the season thus far for the Sooners. Dimon started the opener against Houston and the OSU game, missing the Louisiana-Monroe game sandwiched in between.
It’s not all negative news on that side of the ball as all signs are pointing to defensive tackle Matt Romar is back at practice and on track to play against TCU. Romar, a key part of OU’s line rotation who started 12 games last season, overcame a concussion sustained during summer camp to play the first two games of the season. He didn’t see the field against the Buckeyes because of, you guessed it, an undisclosed injury.
With injuries decimating its own linebacking corps, Penn State may have caught a break on the other side of the ball.
With the Week 5 game against Minnesota still three days away, the Gophers have already announced that Tai’yon Devers has been ruled out against the Nittany Lions. Devers is dealing with an ankle injury that will sideline the freshman through at least this coming Saturday.
The defensive end currently leads the Gophers in sacks with three, including one in last week’s game against Colorado State. That one proved to be an absolute smothering of the Rams’ unfortunate quarterback.
In addition to the sacks, Devers also leads the Gophers with three forced fumbles in three games. According to head coach Tracy Claeys, Dever being more aware of his on-field surroundings could’ve allowed him to add to those totals this weekend.
From the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:
The Rams tried to cut Devers, who has wreaked havoc off the edge.
“He has to learn to protect himself,” Claeys said. “He’s going to see that a little more.”
One of the biggest open secrets in all of college football has been confirmed (?) by a person who purportedly had a front-row seat to the spectacle.
Shortly after Rich Rodriguez was fired following the 2010 season, Michigan put on the full-court press to land Les Miles as his replacement. It was known at the time that then-UM athletic director David Brandon and other school officials flew down to Baton Rouge to meet with Miles, who played his football for the Wolverines in the mid-seventies and was an assistant at his alma mater a decade later.
The open secret many still swear by? That on that trip south Brandon had offered the job, along with a significant raise to what he was making at LSU, to Miles, who ultimately decided to turn it down and stay with the Tigers.
During a radio interview Wednesday, Skip Bertman, LSU athletic director from 2001-2008, confirmed that version of events
“Les Miles turned that job down for more money at Michigan. He turned it down,” Bertman told the ESPN Radio affiliate in Baton Rouge. “He would never say that because he’s a very humble guy. But I was there; he turned it down.”
Renowned Michigan historian John Bacon, however, disputes not only the 2011 claim, but the 2007 claim by Kirk Herbstreit and one made in 2014 as well.
The football program hired Rodriguez in 2007 and Brady Hoke in 2011, then stuck with Hoke through a rough 2014 season that had Miles-to-Ann Arbor speculation flying yet again. Ultimately, though, the university finally landed its Michigan Man in Jim Harbaugh. I’m thinking that’s working out just fine for the program, regardless of how exactly things transpired with Miles in the past.
Tributes to Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler have seemingly been a weekly occurrence across college football the first four weeks of the season, and the players’ conference will get on board in Week 5.
A commemorative coin will be used to honor both Foltz and Sadler at all seven Big Ten games this weekend, the league announced Wednesday. As this is the first full weekend of conference action, the coins, with Foltz on one side and Sadler on the other, will be used for the coin flip prior to each league matchup.
The Cornhuskers have decided to use the coins for the remainder of the season.
Folks and Sadler were killed in a July car accident on their way home from a kick camp in Wisconsin. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the wreck, but is kicking this season for the Tigers and honoring both by wearing special cleats.
Below are the coins that will be used, courtesy of the Big Ten: