Vanderbilt's reward for qualifying for a third straight bowl? Getting passed over by Georgia (also 8-4, headed to the Gator Bowl) and Mississippi State (6-6, headed for the Liberty Bowl) for a trip to Birmingham for the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 4. The Commodores will face Houston (8-4) of the American Athletic conference.
The Music City Bowl, wanting to avoid a local tie-in for a second straight year, choose Ole Miss (7-5) to play Georgia Tech.
Head coach James Franklin relished the opportunity to get to nine wins again with the most successful class of seniors in the school's history.
"To me, that's the most important thing, the opportunity to stay together for a few more days because this team will never be together again," Franklin said. "From a cultural standpoint, from an expectations standpoint, it's a 360-degree difference right now. Vanderbilt hadn't had a nine-win season since 1915 before last year. Those things are very, very exciting. We've just gotta keep building. It allows us to change perceptions about Vanderbilt football."
Athletic Director David Williams said he was very proud of the program's accomplishment.
"Vanderbilt is very excited to accept an invitation to play in the upcoming BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham on Jan. 4," he said. "Vanderbilt University is proud that the Commodore football program will be making its third consecutive postseason appearance in Birmingham. We will work extremely hard to make the bowl a success in very big way. We are looking forward to playing a tremendous opponent in the University of Houston."
As for senior wide receiver Jordan Matthews, it's just a chance to play his last game in his home state.
"Growing up in Alabama, Legion Field is always where the state championship game was played," said Matthews. "I take a lot of pride in [making three straight bowl games]. You can look at these things when we came in that we said we were going to do. We were able to turn it around. We were able to accomplish it. And now we've got one more test, to go down to Birmingham and get a win, it'll be huge for us."
For more information on travel and ticket packages, the school has set up a special site here.