2021 Birmingham Bowl – Houston vs Auburn
posted December 23
Who’s ready for some Power 5 vs Group of 5 action, yo?
The Houston Cougars rattled off 11 consecutive wins after a season-opening loss to Texas Tech and were the runner up in a tough AAC (Cincinnati). They’ve been really good all year and get a chance to take on a name school from the mighty SEC. Auburn has been a yuuuuge disappointment this season (6-6) but don’t forget that they almost took down ROLL TIDE (L 24-22 OT), a game in which they had a projected win probability of 102% at one point **.
** needs fact check
Let’s do ittttttttt !
Auburn -2.5 Houston (51.5)
MEGALOCKS LINE – Auburn -1.5
“Vegas” Implied Projected Score: Auburn 27 Houston 24.5
Auburn offense vs Houston defense
Bo Nix season is no longer in FULL EFFECT as he has taken his talents to Oregon. That leaves backup QB TJ Finley (5-1 TD to INT, 56%) at the controls and he was the man that almost led them to the win over ROLL TIDE. He averaged less than 6 YPA in starts vs South Carolina and Alabama so it’s gonna be tough sledding vs a Houston pass D that’s one of the best in the nation (#18 pass efficiency D, 56%, 17-14 TD to INT). They’ll be without ace CB M Jones but should still provide a stern challenge for the Auburn THROW GAME. Auburn’s fine 1-2 RB punch of T Bigsby and J Hunter are both still playing as far as we know (combined 1579 rush yards, 13 TD) but Houston has also proven to be a tough nut to crack on the ground (#11 FBS run D). Houston is also adept at ACHIEVING PENETRATION (42 sacks, T4 FBS). Auburn has allowed 22 sacks in 12G (#6 SEC). Fun fact – Houston is #1 (!) in the FBS in 3rd down D (25.6%).
Houston offense vs Auburn defense
The RB duo of A McCaskill and T Henry have combined for over 1400 yards and 23 TDs on the ground but they do most of their work thru the air (#83 FBS rush offense, #24 pass). QB C Tune does good work (28-9 TD to INT, 8.6 YPA) and seven doods have accumulated 150+ receiving yards. WR N Dell is a particularly lethal weapon (80, 1179, 12 TD) and note that Auburn will be without star CB R McCreary. The Tigers will also be missing quite a few depth guys as well as leading tackler Z McClain. Auburn has been decent vs the run (#33 FBS) but mediocre vs the pass (#80 pass efficiency D). They did hold ROLL TIDE to 48% completions and got some heat on the QB so maybe there’s hope? It’s just hard to know what to expect with a few key doods missing.
Trends, Intangibles and More!
Houston HC Dana Holgorsen has lost four straight bowl games (2-6 overall) and the Cougars last tasted bowl victory in 2015 when they took down Florida St in the Peach Bowl (W 38-24)…..Auburn has dropped their last two bowl games….HC Bryan Harsin is 3-2 in bowl action…..The Tigers played the #2 schedule according to Sagarin…..Houston #111.
The Cougars are a very balanced team and are almost certainly the more motivated bunch.
Lean – Houston ML +105
‘Official play’ implies we have played the game for our standard wager amount.
‘Lean’ implies we are comfortable suggesting ‘small potatoes’ on the game if you want to get down on some sweet action.
‘No leanage’ implies we won’t be involved in the game from a betting standpoint. In-game wagering possibilities only.