Houston Cougars vs. Auburn Tigers Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (12/28/21)

Houston enters this game ranked 20th in the country in the CFP poll and gets to face an Auburn team that has suffered from a four-game losing streak to end its season. The Tigers will be without quarterback Bo Nix, who is transferring to Oregon and is working through some coaching changes to boot. Houston lost its last four bowl games, including a loss last year to Hawaii, but they have an excellent chance to earn their first bowl win under head coach Dana Holgorsen and finish with their first 12-win season since 2015. Auburn, meanwhile, has an opportunity to pick up some solid momentum heading into next year after a sluggish close to the regular season.

Houston Cougars vs. Auburn Tigers Betting Odds

Houston Cougars Betting Odds

The big storyline for Houston coming into this game will be the absence of cornerback Marcus Jones, the team’s All-American defensive player who was one of the best in the country at his position. Jones was also named the American’s Special Teams Player of the Year as he returned two kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns this season. Houston’s defense ranks sixth in the country in yards allowed per game, and their run defense will still be elite without Jones, but his absence in pass defense will undoubtedly be felt. Upperclassmen Logan Hall, Derek Parish, and David Anenih will be the lifeblood on the defensive end as they control the line of scrimmage.

Clayton Tune had a career year where he threw for 3,263 yards and 28 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. That production would have had him as the American’s First-Team quarterback if not for the phenomenal season from Desmond Ridder. Nathaniel Dell led the team with 80 receptions for 1,179 yards and 12 touchdowns. He didn’t shy away from the most significant games as he finished with nine catches for 152 yards and a touchdown in the American Conference Championship against Cincinnati. Houston didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher, but Alton McCaskill and Ta’Zhawn Henry are competent on the ground.

After going 4-8 and 3-5 in his first two years as head coach, Dana Holgorsen got Houston back to where it wants to be as a program with double-digit wins and a final top-25 ranking in the College Football Playoff poll. A bowl win here would be the cherry on top of an excellent season, and you have to imagine Houston feels a bit hard done as one of the top-ranked teams not to be named to a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Auburn Tigers Betting Odds

A preseason honorable mention for the top 25, Auburn started the season 6-2 and was ranked as high as #12 in the AP Poll. However, a stretch of four straight losses to end the year left Auburn fans disheartened. First-year head coach Bryan Harsin responded by firing offensive coordinator Mike Bobo after just one season, and he will call the plays in this game. Quarterback Bo Nix responded by transferring to Oregon. That level of turmoil and inconsistency should have bettors concerned about putting money on Auburn in this bowl game.

TJ Finley has had some solid moments with Auburn this season, and he led them to a close loss to Alabama, although he also had a brutal game in a loss to South Carolina where he completed just 53.1% of his passes. Finley has a solid chance to be the team’s starter next season, and this bowl game could serve as a litmus test against a top defense to see how much competition the Tigers need to bring in for him. Besides having one of the coolest names in college football, Tank Bigsby will also be relied upon to help take pressure off Finley. However, the 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown runner will face a top-end Houston rush defense.

Defensively, Auburn is in a similar situation as Houston – stud cornerback Roger McCreary has opted out of this game. McCreary is one of the best shutdown cornerbacks in the country who is considered a lock for the first round in the NFL draft and a potential top-ten selection. Derrick Hall, Auburn’s lead pass-rusher who had nine sacks during the regular season, will likely be held somewhat in check against a top Houston offensive line. With McCreary missing from the secondary, it will be up to some unheralded players to step up and slow down Clayton Tune.

Houston Cougars Vs. Auburn Tigers Picks & Prediction

The Trends

  • Cougars are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 bowl games
  • Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 bowl games
  • Over is 7-3 in the Cougars’ last 10 games
  • Under is 4-1 in the Tigers’ last 5 games

The Prediction

I am a big believer in momentum, unity, and morale, and Auburn has none of those right now. Between the firing of the team’s offensive coordinator, the departure of quarterback Bo Nix, and the absence of the team’s best player in Roger McCreary, there are a lot of obstacles to overcome. The lack of Marcus Jones is significant for Houston, but Clayton Tune and Nathaniel Dell have been crushing opposing defenses all season. Auburn did take Alabama to overtime earlier in the year, and it helps that this game is in the Tigers’ home state, but I’m rolling with the team that has put together a much better product as of late and has its starting quarterback in tow.

My Pick: Houston wins 30-24, Houston covers, over 51.5 points

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

Hot College Football Stories