BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Patton Robinette threw a pair of 50-yard touchdown passes to Jordan Matthews, and Vanderbilt recovered after blowing a 24-point lead to beat Houston 41-24 in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday.
Robinette, starting after senior Austyn Carta-Samuels who had season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, also had an 8-yard scoring run as the Commodores built a 24-0 lead in the first half.
After the Cougars (8-4) pulled even by scoring 24 points in the third quarter, Vanderbilt reclaimed the lead on Brian Kimbrow’s 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Commodores (9-4) closed the season with five straight wins, adding to third-year coach James Franklin’s status as a possible candidate for coaching vacancies, including at Penn State and with the NFL’s Browns and Redskins. Vanderbilt played in three straight bowl games under Franklin – a first for the program – and completed its first back-to-back nine-win seasons.
Houston gained only 22 yards and had one first down in the first half but rallied with 24 points in the third quarter to pull even. Kenneth Farrow had a 6-yard TD run and Deontay Greenberry and Markeith Ambles each caught scoring passes from quarterback John O’Korn.
The Commodores regrouped, however, with two big gains on direct snaps to running backs early in the fourth quarter.
Matthews, a senior who set Southeastern Conference records for career catches and yards receiving, had five catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns.