Auburn vs Houston: TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl prediction, game preview, how to watch: Tuesday, December 28
Auburn vs Houston: TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl How To Watch
Date: Tuesday, December 28
Game Time: 12:00 pm ET
Venue: Protective Stadium, Birmingham, AL
How To Watch: ESPN, Live stream on ESPN+
Records: Auburn (6-6), Houston (10-2)
CFN Predictions | Bowl Schedule
Auburn vs Houston TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl Preview
– In so many ways, this bowl game matters.
It matters for a Houston team that was 11-1 before losing to Cincinnati 35-20 in the American Athletic Conference Championship. There weren’t any great wins on the schedule after losing to Texas Tech, and the one chance it had to make a big statement this season fell flat against the Bearcats.
– Beating Auburn is a must for head coach Dana Holgorsen and the program, especially after getting rolled by Hawaii in last year’s bowl appearance.
– Beating Houston is definitely a must for Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin, whose first season was going great until a four-game losing streak – closing with the tough overtime loss to Alabama – changed the narrative.
– It’s a strong overall defensive Tiger team that’s great at getting into the backfield and solid against the run. The offensive side is the question mark, with a running game that’s been wildly inconsistent and a passing attack that’s been hit-or-miss since starter Bo Nix – before transferring to Oregon – went out with an ankle injury.
– Houston’s defense is the best in the nation at third down stops. It’s terrific at coming up with takeaways, it was the best in the AAC against the run, and the pass rush has been a constant killer. The offense is efficient and is great at controlling the clock, but the line struggles in pass protection and the running game is spotty at best.
NEXT: Why Auburn Will Win, Why Houston Will Win, TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl Prediction
Why Houston Will Win The TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
What kind of offense is Auburn about to bring?
The Tigers couldn’t run against Alabama, couldn’t get enough going in any way against South Carolina, and couldn’t keep up with Mississippi State – and Houston has a defense.
The Cougars might have had issues against Cincinnati and its running game, but the defensive front is great at generating consistent pressure, the run defense led the American Athletic Conference allowing just 106 yards per game, and there are lots and lots of takeaways.
Offensively, the Houston passing game should be okay. It was steady throughout the year with 200 yards or more in every game on a consistent basis against a pass defense that was ripped up – for the most part – by the high-octane SEC attacks.
Houston will keep pushing on both sides of the ball, but …
Why Auburn Will Win The TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
Houston’s best win was against … SMU? It was great against Memphis, dominated Tulsa, and got the O rolling against the USFs of the world, but the team never got the job done against anyone amazing.
The Cougars only gained 251 yards in the loss to Texas Tech to open the season, and they had their third-worst day against Cincinnati in the AAC Championship – both losses.
Auburn has to win this on the defensive front. The Houston running game isn’t that great, the offensive line gives up way too many plays in the backfield, and it’s about get hit hard by the D that lived behind the line against Alabama and generated 25 tackles for loss over the last three games.
NEXT: What’s Going To Happen, Auburn vs Houston Prediction, TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl History
Auburn vs Houston: TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl, What’s Going To Happen
Both teams will play with a purpose in a bit of a defensive struggle. Houston will do a better job of controlling the clock, but the Auburn lines will take over as the game goes on with the D line making the difference late.
There won’t be anything pretty about this. Turnovers will matter, capitalizing on opportunities will mean everything, and in the end, the Tigers will come up with the big stop the Cougars won’t.
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: Auburn vs Houston Prediction, Lines
Must See Rating: 3.5
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TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl History
Jan, 2, 2020 Cincinnati 38, Boston College 6
Dec. 22, 2018 Wake Forest 37, Memphis 34
Dec. 23, 2017 USF 38, Texas Tech 34
Dec. 29, 2016 USF 46, South Carolina 39 OT
Dec. 30, 2015 Auburn 31, Memphis 10
Jan. 3, 2015 Florida 28, East Carolina 20
Jan. 4, 2014 Vanderbilt 41, Houston 24
Jan. 5, 2013 Ole Miss 38, Pitt 17
Jan. 7, 2012 SMU 28, Pitt 6
Jan. 8, 2011 Pitt 27, Kentucky 10
Jan. 2, 2010 UConn 20, South Carolina 7
Dec. 29, 2008 Rutgers 29, NC State 23
Dec. 22, 2007 Cincinnati 31, Southern Miss 21
Dec. 23, 2006 USF 24, East Carolina 7