The bowl game announced the matchup Sunday, the first meeting between the two teams. Vanderbilt is playing in its third straight bowl game for the first time, all under coach James Franklin.
"Four in the last six years," athletic director David Williams said. "This is becoming a habit. And it will remain a habit for the future."
Houston, which plays in the American Athletic Conference, is 8-4 and is making its eighth postseason trip in the past 11 seasons. Vandy is also 8-4 and beat Georgia, Florida and Tennessee for the first time in the same season.
The Commodores have posted back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time since 1927-28 and are 15-4 in their last 19 games. Some 1,500 fans and the Vandy band turned out for the bowl announcement.
Williams was asked afterward what would he say to Commodores' fans upset that they didn't get an earlier bowl.
He said they have only themselves to blame because the Commodores need to make sure they're selling out their own stadium. Vanderbilt had an announced crowd of 33,019 at its regular season finale over Wake Forest on Nov. 30, and the Commodores already have the SEC's smallest stadium.
They also had played their last two bowls inside the Tennessee border, making the Music City Bowl and Liberty Bowl not the best option for either the Commodores or those bowls.
Franklin said going to a bowl is becoming an expectation at Vanderbilt. Then he turned his attention to tickets. He pointed out that Ole Miss helped sell out the Compass Bowl last year.
"They sold it out at 55,000. That's what we have to do," Franklin said. "That's what we have to do, we have to sell this game out with 55,000 black and gold fans going crazy, enjoying our time together. This is what it's all about."
The Cougars are 9-11-1 in bowls, including a 30-14 win over No. 22 Penn State in the 2012 Ticket City Bowl to cap coach Tony Levine's first season.
Levine said "facing a formidable opponent from the SEC is a great challenge and one that our program is looking forward to."
Williams: bowl result was VU's own fault
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