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Compass Bowl: Vandy tries to make do without Austyn Carta-Samuels

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

BBVA Compass Bowl
Vanderbilt vs. Houston
Birmingham, Ala.
Jan. 4, 2014

For the first time in school history, Vanderbilt will try to win back-to-back bowl games. But it will do so without the help of its starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who underwent knee surgery following the regular season to repair a torn ACL suffered in a win over Georgia on Oct. 19.

Carta-Samuels missed two games, but actually came back to play in the team’s final three contests. That should show exactly how important he is to his team.

With Carta-Samuela out, the Commodores will turn to Patton Robinette, who started the two games Carta-Samuels missed and came away with a 1-1 record. But he’ll face a tough task trying to keep pace with a Houston offense that plays a fast-paced styles and averages 33.9 points per game.

Freshman quarterback John O'Korn threw for 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions and had the Cougars on the cusp of leading the American Athletic Conference. However, losses to UCF, Louisville and Cincinnati in three consecutive weeks and a 34-0 win against SMU in the regular season finale have the Cougars limping into this game after a 7-1 start.

But the stars of this game might be the receivers. Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews is the SEC’s all-time leader in receptions and yards. He finished the regular season with 107 catches for 1,334 yards.

Houston’s Deontay Greenberry had 76 catches for 1,106 and 10 touchdowns.

With both of these offenses rearing to go, don’t expect a lot of defense in this one.

MASCOT FIGHT

Here we have yet another man vs. animal matchup. A commodore is a high-ranking military official – or Lionel Ritchie (80s reference!) – and a cougar is a super mean cat. If these two parties were to meet in a dark alley, I’d give my vote to the cat. However, if the cougar was meeting Lionel Ritchie, I think his melodic voice would lull the cat to sleep and the Commodore would win easy, easy like Sunday morning.

PREDICTIONS

Graham: Vanderbilt 34, Houston 21. These teams are pretty evenly matched on paper, but Houston really struggled against the better competition it faced. I think the Vandy defense steps up, puts pressure on quarterback John O’Korn and forces him into mistakes that Cougars just can’t overcome.

Nick: Vanderbilt 30, Houston 28: The loss of Austyn Carta-Samuels is going to hurt, but Patton Robinette got some good experience earlier in the year. And if you watch the game you get to hear all about James Franklin's job prospects if he decides to leave Vanderbilt. How exciting is that?

Sam: Vanderbilt 33, Houston 31. Houston, who lost to Louisville and UCF by a combined 12 points, has two extremely impressive freshmen in quarterback John O'Korn and wide receiver Deontay Greenberry. Those two are a big part of what makes the Houston offense so good, but coming out of the SEC, Vanderbilt has faced better. It will be a close one, but I think Vandy ekes out a win.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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