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Bowl Roundup: Vanderbilt wins Compass Bowl

Bowl Roundup: Vanderbilt wins Compass Bowl

Bowl Roundup: Vanderbilt wins Compass Bowl

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is do...


    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — James Franklin wanted to savor Vanderbilt's bowl win.
    Any public comment about his interest in another job would have to wait.
    Patton Robinette threw two 50-yard touchdown passes to Jordan Matthews, and Vanderbilt recovered after blowing a 24-point lead to beat Houston 41-24 on Saturday in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
    Robinette, starting after senior Austyn Carta-Samuels had season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, also had an 8-yard scoring run as Vanderbilt built a 24-0 lead in the first half.
    After Houston (8-4) pulled even by scoring 24 points in the third quarter, Vanderbilt reclaimed the lead on Brian Kimbrow's 21-yard touchdown run. It was the start of 17 fourth-quarter points for the Commodores.
    "The thing that's probably the most exciting to me is there is a culture of winning at Vanderbilt," Franklin said. "These guys know how to win. A lot of different ways they do it, ugly, pretty, people can describe it however they want."
    Vanderbilt (9-4) closed the season with five straight wins, adding to Franklin's status as a possible candidate for coaching vacancies, including at Penn State and with the NFL Browns and Redskins. The Commodores played in three straight bowl games under Franklin — a first for the program — and completed their first back-to-back nine-win seasons.
    Franklin talked after the game about Vanderbilt's returning players. He left the interview room without replying when asked if he would be back.
    Vandy players doused Franklin with a water bucket in the final seconds.
    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 scoring run and Deontay Greenberry and John O'Korn threw scoring passes to Markeith Ambles.
    Franklin joked the Houston comeback was arranged to protect the TV ratings.
    "Statistically, it was crazy," Franklin said. "Our defense gave up 22 yards in the first half, 300 yards in the third quarter. We were told by the ESPN people that the ratings had gone down so we wanted to spike them back up by making it exciting in the third quarter."

Sun Belt's Arkansas State faces Ball State
    MOBILE, Ala. — Arkansas State keeps winning football games no matter who is on the sideline.
    The Red Wolves (7-5) have become a regular at the GoDaddy Bowl, returning to Mobile for a third straight season. They will face Ball State (10-2) on Sunday night at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
    Arkansas State has enjoyed its run of success despite constant change on the coaching staff. The Red Wolves have had four head coaches over the past four seasons and a fifth — former North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson — is set to take over after Sunday's game. Previous coach Bryan Harsin left the program for Boise State in December.
    Fifth-year senior Ryan Carrethers has seen all of the coaches come and go. He concedes the turnover isn't ideal, but it's also taught the Red Wolves resiliency.
    "We've learned over the past few years that we can always count on each other," Carrethers said. "That's a big reason we've been able to get so many victories."
    Compared to the Red Wolves, Ball State is a model of consistency. Third-year coach Pete Lembo, who came to Ball State from Elon, has led the Cardinals to just their third 10-win season in program history.
    Ball State is especially potent in the passing game. Arkansas State will counter with a strong defensive line, including the 6-foot-2, 330-pound Carrethers, who has four sacks this season.
    Ball State hopes its defense can provide a few big plays, too. The Cardinals rank seventh in the country with 30 takeaways.
    "That's one of the big statistical factors going into this game," Lembo said. "Arkansas State does a great job taking care of the ball and we've been good at causing turnovers. Something's got to give on Sunday."

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