Vanderbilt outdueled Houston 41-24 in last year's BBVA Compass Bowl. Now they'll have the chance to prove the win was no fluke in 2015.
The Commodores and Cougars agreed to a home-and-home series that will send Derek Mason's team to Houston for a non-conference game next fall. The Cougars will return the favor by traveling to Nashville in 2021 should the pact hold up for the next seven years.
The agreement helps clear up Vandy's schedule for next season. The 'Dores already had arrangements in place to travel to Middle Tennessee State in early September and then host Western Kentucky the following week. The 'Dores will also play Austin Peay that fall, but the date for that game has not yet been announced. The Commodores had also been scheduled to face off with
I-AA FCS foe Richmond in a rematch of their 2007 showdown, but athletics director David Williams scratched that this spring.
Williams had suggested that the 'Dores would schedule a fourth OOC opponent from a smaller conference earlier in the year, but a pact with Houston is a bit of a surprise. The Cougars will give Vandy a stiff test that teams like UMass, Old Dominion, or UAB lack the resources to match. Additionally, playing UH won't help Vandy meet the SEC's requirement that every team schedule a non-league game against a team from a power conference in 2016 and beyond. Houston plays in the American Athletic Conference and would not count as Vanderbilt's designated OOC matchup for that potential 2021 showdown.
Even so, the series will give Mason and his team another opportunity to notch a quality win while expanding the team's recruiting roots into Texas. A Vanderbilt/Houston showdown won't be appointment viewing for ESPN, but it will give two growing programs an opportunity to test each other in what could become an interesting rivalry. The Cougars are likely to rack up plenty of wins in the rebuilding AAC, and a victory over a bowl-eligible opponent would certainly give Commodore fans some ammunition in the "but who have you beaten?" argument.