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Auburn vs. Houston Prediction: Birmingham Bowl picks, betting odds, more

 Brandon Eisenman   in Football

The 2021 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl pits the Auburn Tigers against the #20 Houston Cougars. Auburn finished the regular season with a 6-6 record, and Houston comes in at 11-2 overall. Following a few transfers, the Tigers will have new faces at a couple of different positions for the bowl game. 

The Auburn offense will be led by quarterback T.J. Finley. Tigers starter Bo Nix announced his transfer to Oregon this past week. Finley will be one of the main focus points of the offense in this game. Running back Tank Bigsby will be the main focal point, though. Auburn hasn't played well on offense with Finley under center. Bryan Harsin should look to get Bigsby a heavy work load on Tuesday against the Cougars. One aspect that the Tigers have to utilize is allowing Finley to throw deep. The coaching staff has yet to give Finley the reigns to do so. That could be a game changer in this bowl game. 

For Houston, their offense is led by quarterback Clayton Tune. On the season, Tune has passed for 3,263 yards with 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions. If Houston is going to succeed in the air attack, Tune's pocket presence will be the key focus. In the backfield, Alton McCaskill has carried the ball 175 times for 883 yards and 16 touchdowns. He averages five yards per rush, which could be a difficult task for the Auburn defense. 

Looking to the Tigers defense, containing the ground game will be key. The aforementioned McCaskill is a solid tailback that can quickly burst upfield for big gains. But stopping the ground attack isn't the only portion of the Houston offense that Auburn has to be aware of. Containing Tune in the pocket will be the key. Auburn cannot allow Houston to go over the top on deep routes. The Tigers will be without star defensive back Roger McCreary for the game. 

The Houston defense has to devise a game plan to get pressure on Finley in the pocket. The Cougars have a solid defensive front that can get into the backfield and make plays. Forcing Finley out of the pocket will be a major key for the front line. If Houston can get to Finley, that makes Auburn one-dimensional with Bigsby in the ground game. 

Auburn vs. Houston Prediction

Nick Cole and Christopher Smith share their Auburn vs. Houston prediction and betting picks for the Birmingham Bowl.