The Future Four of the Big 12 Conference continues to prove itself as Power Five Conference worthy. No.21 Houston defeated Auburn 17-13 in Auburn’s own backyard of Birmingham, Ala. The Cougar defense was a stalwart throughout the game. Had it not been for a pair of interceptions, this game might’ve been worse. Auburn’s offense just simply did not play well. The first quarter was dominated by Houston in the category of time of possession. Auburn was able to control the category after the first quarter, but once the Tiger offense reached Houston territory, they struggled to move the ball. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune finished the day 26-of-40 for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Tune, and receiver Seth Green, each threw one interception. These were the only two turnovers during the game with the exception of Auburn failing to convert on a 4th & 2 with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
Houston’s defense held Auburn running back Tank Bigsby under 100 yards rushing. Auburn quarterback TJ Finley completed just 51 percent of his passes. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Dell racked 150 yards on 10 receptions despite not finding his way into the end zone. Defense was the name of the game, and Houston proved to be better in this one. The American Athletic Conference is now 3-0 in bowl games, including two victories from future Big 12 schools. Both of those schools have defeated SEC teams as UCF took down in-state rival Florida 29-17 in the Gasparilla Bowl. The final Future Four team to play is No.4 Cincinnati. Guess what. They, too, will face an SEC team. Below are three thoughts on Houston’s victory over Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl. Also, there is a bonus thought and a good reason why you should continue reading Heartland College Sports before placing a wager.
1. Houston’s red zone defense is phenomenal
Auburn scored exactly one touchdown, and they barely scored it. The Tigers had absolutely zero chance of running the football into the end zone. Houston’s run defense shut Tank Bigsby down completely inside the 20-yard line. The one touchdown Auburn managed to score had a delayed call. Two officials questioned each other as to whether Kobe Hudson got a foot inbounds or not. The call was reviewed, and it was clear Hudson got one foot inbounds. The stats say that Auburn scored 13 points in the red zone, but six of those came on field goals. Auburn had seven drives stall in the Houston territory. The shorter the field, the better Houston was at defending.
3. If this game is a sign of things to come, Alabama is in trouble.
The American Athletic Conference is 3-0 in bowl games thus far. The SEC is 0-3 plus Texas A&M forfeited the Gator Bowl, so it’s more like 0-4. At first, we just kind of assumed that the SEC East was a terrible division. Now, the runner-up in the American Athletic Conference took down an SEC West team which forced Alabama into quadruple overtime. Cincinnati embarrassed Houston in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game. Sure, the Iron Bowl might escalate the stakes and the emotions, but a regular season rivalry game is nothing in comparison to a shot for the National Championship. Everything is on the line. If you don’t think Cincinnati is more fired up than Auburn to take on Alabama, go check into a psychiatric hospital. If anything, it’s Alabama who might not be ready for this game as it may be “just business as usual” for the Crimson Tide players.
3. The Future Four seems a lot like TCU when the Horned Frogs were invited
All four teams are taking down the blue bloods. No.12 BYU finished 5-0 against the Pac-12, including a victory over blue blood USC and Pac-12 Conference “Champion” Utah. Houston just took down an Auburn team whose won a National Championship in the past decade and boasts three Heisman Trophy winners. Additionally, they have won a New Year’s Six Bowl in the past decade, taking down blue blood Florida State in the 2015 Peach Bowl. UCF took down Florida this month and won the 2017 Colley Matrix National Championship after defeating blue blood Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Finally, Cincinnati went to South Bend, Ind. this season and gave Notre Dame its only loss. Any Horned Frogs fan would happily remind you that they’ve won a Rose Bowl over Wisconsin. They’ve been to the Fiesta Bowl. Since joining the Big 12, TCU humiliated Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl 42-3. The Future Four is reminiscent of TCU just before they joined the Big 12 Conference. The Cotton Bowl is going to an interesting game to view. Will Cincinnati continue the trend?
BONUS THOUGHT: Pay attention to Heartland College Sports if you are a bettor.
I have to toot my own horn here for a second. I got the score correct. My preview said Houston 17 Auburn 13. The final score was Houston 17 Auburn 13. It’s a good reminder to check out Heartland College Sports before you go placing wagers on mybookie.com (where you double your deposit using our promocode “BIG12”. We’re not always correct, but we have somewhat of an idea on what we’re talking about. If you had read the prediction and used it to place a wager on mybookie.com, you would’ve made some money.