Dec 4, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) plays the field against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half during the American Athletic Conference championship game at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

News Articles

Auburn chases in-state bowl win vs. No. 20 Houston

No. 20 Houston will look to finish its season on a winning note when it plays Auburn on Tuesday afternoon in the Birmingham Bowl.

The Cougars (11-2) dropped their opener, then won 11 games in a row before losing 35-20 against No. 4 Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Dec. 4. Eight of their 11 wins came by double digits.

Houston coach Dana Holgorsen knows that an end-of-season victory would give the Cougars a positive feeling heading into the offseason. It also would show improvement from last season’s disappointing performance in the New Mexico Bowl, where the Cougars lost 28-14 against Hawaii.

During an era in which spread offenses and high-octane passing attacks have become more common, Holgorsen said he still wants Houston’s identity to begin with running the ball and playing sound defense.

Holgorsen is completing his third season in Houston after joining the program from West Virginia, where he coached from 2011-18.

“We run the ball a good bit and control the clock, or a least we try to,” Holgorsen said. “We are a top 10 team in time of possession. There are different things we can do to help the defense. We started noticing that probably the last three years at the previous place I was at when we won 10 games a couple of times and had the first- or second-ranked defense in the country. We took that same model to Houston.

“What we try to do offensively makes it easier to be able to play defense. That’s what championship teams do. I know (coach Bryan Harsin) is doing the same thing at Auburn. If you want to get into that championship conversation, you better play good defense, but your offense is going to have something to do with that.”

Auburn (6-6) is desperate for a win after dropping its final four regular-season games. The Tigers lost by 17 points to then-No. 14 Texas A&M, fell by nine points to Mississippi State, lost by four points to South Carolina and lost by two points in four overtimes to then-No. 3 Alabama.

Harsin is in his first season with Auburn, and a postseason win within the state of Alabama could help him improve buy-in with his current roster as well as boost recruiting efforts.

“We are preparing to represent our school and team well,” Harsin said. “We have a chance for our team to play one last game together, and it’s great to play in our home state. We’re excited to play a game in a new stadium here in Birmingham.”

Auburn will need to be ready for Houston’s offense, led by quarterback Clayton Tune (3,263 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, nine interceptions) and running back Alton McCaskill (883 rushing yards, 16 TDs).

Meanwhile, the Tigers expect to turn to TJ Finley at quarterback after starter Bo Nix announced that he would transfer to Oregon. Finley, who is coming off an ankle injury, completed 51 of 91 passes (56 percent) for 600 yards with five touchdowns and one interception this season.

Auburn will be without three players who will sit out to protect their potential NFL draft status: linebacker Zakoby McClain, cornerback Roger McCreary and offensive lineman Brodarious Hamm.

Houston will be minus a key performer too, as cornerback/wide receiver/kick returner/punt returner Marcus Jones will skip the game. Jones won the Paul Hornung Award this season as the nation’s most versatile player.

Houston is 11-15-1 in bowl games, and it is looking for its first win since claiming the 2015 Peach Bowl.

Auburn is 24-19-2 in bowl games, with its last win coming in the 2018 Music City Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

Sportsbooks

Rated 5/5

Rated 5/5

Rated 5/5

Rated 5/5

Upcoming Games

Sep 29th, 8:00 PM

Utah State +24 -135

BYU (19) -24 -135

@

Sep 30th, 7:00 PM

Tulane +3.5 -110

Houston -3.5 -110

@

Sep 30th, 7:30 PM

UTSA -6.5 -110

Middle Tennessee +6.5 -110

@

Sep 30th, 8:00 PM

San Diego State +5 -110

Boise State -5 -110

@

Sep 30th, 10:30 PM

Washington (15) -3 -110

UCLA +3 -110

@

Sep 30th, 11:00 PM

New Mexico +15 -110

UNLV -15 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Eastern Washington

Florida

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Kentucky (7) +4 -110

Ole Miss (14) -4 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

South Carolina State

South Carolina

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Texas Tech +8 -110

Kansas State (25) -8 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Oklahoma (18) -5 -110

TCU +5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Louisville -13.5 -110

Boston College +13.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Michigan (4) -9.5 -110

Iowa +9.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Purdue +10 -110

Minnesota (21) -10 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Illinois +9 -110

Wisconsin -9 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Georgia State +7.5 -110

Army -7.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Navy +16 -110

Air Force -16 -110

@

Oct 1st, 12:00 PM

Temple +20 -110

Memphis -20 -110

@

Oct 1st, 1:30 PM

Texas State +19.5 -110

James Madison -19.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 2:00 PM

Oregon State +11 -110

Utah (12) -11 -110

@

Oct 1st, 2:00 PM

Massachusetts +20 -110

Eastern Michigan -20 -110

@

Oct 1st, 2:00 PM

NIU -3.5 -110

Ball State +3.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Alabama (2) -14.5 -110

Arkansas (20) +14.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Oklahoma State (9) +1 -110

Baylor (16) -1 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Iowa State -3 -110

Kansas +3 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Wake Forest (22) +3 -110

Florida State (23) -3 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Virginia Tech +9 -110

North Carolina -9 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Michigan State +6 -110

Maryland -6 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Rutgers +41 -110

Ohio State (3) -41 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Northwestern +24.5 -110

Penn State (11) -24.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Fresno State -24.5 -110

UCONN +24.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

SMU +4 -110

UCF -4 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Central Michigan +7 -110

Toledo -7 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Bowling Green -6 -110

Akron +6 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Miami-OH +1.5 -110

Buffalo -1.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Ohio +7 -110

Kent State -7 -110

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

The Citadel

Appalachian State

@

Oct 1st, 3:30 PM

Gardner-Webb

Marshall

@

Oct 1st, 4:00 PM

Texas A&M (17) +1 -110

Mississippi State -1 -110

@

Oct 1st, 4:00 PM

Georgia Southern +10 -110

Coastal Carolina -10 -110

@

Oct 1st, 4:00 PM

Florida Atlantic -4 -110

North Texas +4 -110

@

Oct 1st, 5:00 PM

Wagner

Syracuse

@

Oct 1st, 5:00 PM

South Alabama -6 -110

Louisiana-Lafayette +6 -110

@

Oct 1st, 5:30 PM

California +4 -110

Washington State -4 -110

@

Oct 1st, 6:00 PM

Liberty -2.5 -110

Old Dominion +2.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 6:00 PM

New Hampshire

Western Michigan

@

Oct 1st, 6:00 PM

UTEP -3 -110

Charlotte +3 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:00 PM

LSU -7.5 -110

Auburn +7.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:00 PM

East Carolina -8.5 -110

USF +8.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:00 PM

Cincinnati -11.5 -110

Tulsa +11.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:00 PM

Louisiana-Monroe +9.5 -110

Arkansas State -9.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:00 PM

Troy +6 -110

WKU -6 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:30 PM

Georgia (1) -28 -110

Missouri +28 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:30 PM

West Virginia +10 -110

Texas -10 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:30 PM

NC State (10) +6.5 -110

Clemson (5) -6.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:30 PM

Virginia +2 -110

Duke -2 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:30 PM

Indiana +3.5 -110

Nebraska -3.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:30 PM

San Jose State +1 -110

Wyoming -1 -110

@

Oct 1st, 7:30 PM

UAB -10.5 -110

Rice +10.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 8:00 PM

Georgia Tech +19 -110

Pittsburgh (24) -19 -110

@

Oct 1st, 8:00 PM

Florida International (FIU) +14.5 -110

New Mexico State -14.5 -110

@

Oct 1st, 9:30 PM

Colorado +19 -110

Arizona -19 -110

@

Oct 1st, 10:30 PM

Arizona State +24 -110

USC (6) -24 -110

@

Oct 1st, 11:00 PM

Stanford +15 -110

Oregon (13) -15 -110

@