The dual-threat back system was in full effect for Vandy as Jerron Seymour rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and Brian Kimbrow carried the ball 13 times for 75 yards and a score for the Commodores (9-4), who played in a bowl game for the third straight season. The program had qualified for just four bowl games in its history prior to 2011.
In what could be James Franklin's last game as the head coach of Vanderbilt, with rumors swirling he could be headed to the NFL or a more prestigious football school, he led the team to back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in school history.
John O'Korn completed 20-of-47 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for the Cougars (8-5), who lost four of their final five games after starting the season 7-1.
Matthews got the Commodores on the board on their second possession of the game. He took a 50-yard screen pass untouched into the end zone to make it 7-0 just over five minutes into the game.
After forcing three straight three-and-outs to start the game, Vandy's defense forced a fumble on the next drive and Patton Robinette had a 8-yard keeper on 4th-and-2 to make it 14-0 Vandy.
Vanderbilt stretched its lead to 17-0 with a Carey Spear 24-yard field goal early in the second.
Matthews caught his second 50-yard touchdown pass, this one over the top, to make it 24-0 going into halftime.
Houston gained only 22 yards and had one first down in the first half but rallied for 24 points on 309 yards in the third quarter to pull even. Kenneth Farrow had a 6-yard scoring run and O'Korn threw scoring passes to Markeith Ambles and Deontay Greenberry.
The Commodores regrouped after throwing an interception on their first fourth quarter touch. Seymour rushed for 38 yards to the Houston 34 and Kimbrow's 21- yard touchdown run gave the lead back to Vandy with 9:48 to play.
Jahmel McIntosh's interception less than a minute later gave the ball back to Vanderbilt, setting up Spear's 35-yard field goal to make it 34-24 Commodores.
Andre Hal's interception sealed the game for Vanderbilt and set up a two-yard punch-in for Seymour that accounted for the final margin.
Robinette finished 6-for-19 for 154 and two touchdowns with two interceptions ... Vanderbilt's bowl record is 4-2-1 and Houston is 9-12-1 ... It was the first meeting between the two teams ... Matthews finished the season with 112 receptions for 1,477 yards ... Vandy's starting quarterback Austyn Carta- Samuels underwent knee surgery following the conclusion of the regular season to repair a torn ACL ... Houston finished the season with 43 takeaways, the most in the country.