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.