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

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No. 20 Houston will look to complete its season on a profitable be aware when it performs Auburn on Tuesday afternoon within the Birmingham Bowl.

The Cougars (11-2) dropped their opener, then gained 11 video games in a row earlier than dropping 35-20 in opposition to No. 4 Cincinnati within the American Athletic Convention championship recreation on Dec. 4. Eight of their 11 wins got here by double digits.

Houston coach Dana Holgorsen is aware of that an end-of-season victory would give the Cougars a optimistic feeling heading into the offseason. It additionally would present enchancment from final season’s disappointing efficiency within the New Mexico Bowl, the place the Cougars misplaced 28-14 in opposition to Hawaii.

Throughout an period by which unfold offenses and high-octane passing assaults have grow to be extra widespread, Holgorsen mentioned he nonetheless desires Houston’s identification to start with working the ball and taking part in sound protection.

Holgorsen is finishing his third season in Houston after becoming a member of this system from West Virginia, the place he coached from 2011-18.

“We run the ball bit and management the clock, or a least we attempt to,” Holgorsen mentioned. “We’re a prime 10 staff in time of possession. There are various things we will do to assist the protection. We began noticing that in all probability the final three years on the earlier place I used to be at after we gained 10 video games a few instances and had the first- or second-ranked protection within the nation. We took that very same mannequin to Houston.

“What we attempt to do offensively makes it simpler to have the ability to play protection. That is what championship groups do. I do know (coach Bryan Harsin) is doing the identical factor at Auburn. If you wish to get into that championship dialog, you higher play good protection, however your offense goes to have one thing to do with that.”

Auburn (6-6) is determined for a win after dropping its remaining 4 regular-season video games. The Tigers misplaced by 17 factors to then-No. 14 Texas A&M, fell by 9 factors to Mississippi State, misplaced by 4 factors to South Carolina and misplaced by two factors in 4 overtimes to then-No. 3 Alabama.

Harsin is in his first season with Auburn, and a postseason win inside the state of Alabama may assist him enhance buy-in together with his present roster in addition to increase recruiting efforts.

“We’re making ready to characterize our faculty and staff nicely,” Harsin mentioned. “Now we have an opportunity for our staff to play one final recreation collectively, and it is nice to play in our dwelling state. We’re excited to play a recreation in a brand new stadium right here in Birmingham.”

Auburn will should be prepared for Houston’s offense, led by quarterback Clayton Tune (3,263 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 9 interceptions) and working again Alton McCaskill (883 dashing yards, 16 TDs).

In the meantime, the Tigers anticipate to show to TJ Finley at quarterback after starter Bo Nix introduced that he would switch to Oregon. Finley, who’s coming off an ankle damage, accomplished 51 of 91 passes (56 %) for 600 yards with 5 touchdowns and one interception this season.

Auburn will likely be with out three gamers who will sit out to guard their potential NFL draft standing: linebacker Zakoby McClain, cornerback Roger McCreary and offensive lineman Brodarious Hamm.

Houston will likely be minus a key performer too, as cornerback/extensive receiver/kick returner/punt returner Marcus Jones will skip the sport. Jones gained the Paul Hornung Award this season because the nation’s most versatile participant.

Houston is 11-15-1 in bowl video games, and it’s in search of its first win since claiming the 2015 Peach Bowl.

Auburn is 24-19-2 in bowl video games, with its final win coming within the 2018 Music Metropolis Bowl.

–Area Degree Media

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