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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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BBVA Compass Bowl Vanderbilt Commodores vs Houston Cougars Start Time, Odds, Free Pick

The Vanderbilt Commodores take on the Houston Cougars in the BBVA Compass Bowl today. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the odds for the game have the Vanderbilt as a small favorite to win the game.

It's not the BCS, but it's still a bowl game. That's what the Vanderbilt and Houston coaching staffs must have been saying to their players when they found out about playing in this one. It has the distinct advantage of being the only game on at the time with the NFL games to be on later today as well.

We have a middle of the road SEC team taking on a Houston squad that will be looking for a benchmark win. James Franklin, Vanderbilt coach, is rumored to be involved in the Penn State coaching vacancy, and whether or not that's true certainly will play a role in this contest. It's the Commodores' fourth bowl game since 2008.

Prior to Franklin arriving in town Vandy had been to just three bowl games the previous 117 years. It's also the first time since 1927-28 that the Commodores have had back-to-back eight-win seasons. But they'll have to play well on the defensive side of the football if they are going to be in and try to win this game.

This will be the first time these schools meet on the football field.

Houston will look to establish their running game early, but also note they love to run the football as much as possible. The Cougs will be looking to make some noise against a Vanderbilt defense that ranks just 102nd in rushing and 99th in total defense.

This is Houston's eighth bowl game in 11 seasons. This season they won eight games because they were best in the country in turnover ratio, sitting at +25 for the season. Plus, their four defeats this year came by a combined four total points. That will make them ready to go in this contest.

Vandy looks like it will be going with their third option at quarterback. Austin Carta-Samuels is banged up and backup Josh Grady isn't expected to be available either. Yet, the Commodores are still anticipated to win the game, according to the oddsmakers.

Houston freshman QB John O'Korn has been very serviceable this season, throwing 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions this year. Vandy didn't play well against spread teams this season, going 0-3 against Ole Miss, Missouri and Texas A&M this season.

And they're still favored, even with their third option at QB starting today? Seems fair they're favored. Don't over think it.

Free Pick: Vanderbilt 31, Houston 27

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