Birmingham Bowl 2021: Odds, Daily Fantasy Tips for Houston vs. Auburn

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 27, 2021

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune (3) prepares to receive the ball during the first half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Cincinnati Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Jeff Dean/Associated Press

The Houston Cougars were rewarded for their runner-up season in the American Athletic Conference with a Birmingham Bowl matchup against a SEC squad.

Houston will face the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday in the first of five scheduled games.

Auburn is Houston's first Power Five opponent in a bowl game since the 2015 Peach Bowl, and it could be susceptible to losing in its home state.

The Tigers are going through an offensive change after quarterback Bo Nix transferred to the Oregon Ducks and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was fired. Auburn will also be without top defensive back Roger McCreary, who opted out of the bowl game to focus on the 2022 NFL draft.

Houston will not be at 100 percent either since its All-American defensive back Marcus Jones is preparing for April's draft as well.

The absence of two high-profile defensive backs makes you think that quarterbacks Clayton Tune and TJ Finley will start off Tuesday's slate with an open, back-and-forth affair.


Birmingham Bowl Info

Date: Tuesday, December 28

Start Time: noon ET 


Live Stream: ESPN app and ESPN.com


Game Odds

Spread: Auburn (-2.5) 

Over/Under: 51.5

Moneyline: Auburn (-125; bet $125 to win $100); Houston (+105; bet $100 to win $105)

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.


Daily Fantasy Tips

Begin Building with Clayton Tune

Tune will be vital to Houston earning its first bowl win since it took down the Florida State Seminoles in the 2015 Peach Bowl.

Houston enters Tuesday's matchup on a four-game bowl losing streak, during which it has scored more than 20 points just once.

Tune has a chance to open up the Auburn secondary because of McCreary's absence. The junior signal-caller still has to deal with Auburn's ferocious pass rush, but he could use quick passes or mobility in the pocket to avoid that becoming a factor.

The quarterback produced 3,263 passing yards and 32 touchdowns this season, and he has thrown only three interceptions since October 7. He completed at least 20 passes in five of his past six games, and he has a minimum of 250 passing yards in five appearances dating back to October 30.

Tune is the more reliable quarterback option in the Birmingham Bowl because Auburn is transitioning from one system to another and Finley did not receive many regular-season snaps.

The last time we saw Finley, he was playing on one healthy leg in an upset bid against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Auburn may be more inclined to run the ball with Tank Bigsby while Finley figures out what the offensive approach will be.

Tune is one of a few intriguing quarterback possibilities for daily fantasy football contests on Tuesday's slate. He is likely the third- or fourth-best option behind NC State's Devin Leary, Mississippi State's Will Rogers and Louisville's Malik Cunningham.

His potential for high numbers should give him a shot to produce Tuesday's best passing totals—as long as he stays upright. He was sacked eight times in the AAC Championship Game against the Cincinnati Bearcats.


Focus on Tank Bigsby from Auburn's Roster

Bigsby is the one known quantity inside the Auburn offense heading into the Birmingham Bowl.

The 1,000-yard rusher carried the ball on 207 occasions and found the end zone 10 times during the Tigers' 6-6 season.

Bigsby is going up against a Houston defense that allowed 210 rushing yards to Cincinnati in its most recent trip to the gridiron.

Houston averages a concession of 106.5 rushing yards per game, but it is susceptible to a handful of big gains, as Cincinnati produced on December 4.

Auburn's rushing offense averages 164.3 yards per contest, and it should be the focal point of the offensive game plan in the first half.

The Tigers are switching concepts from fired offensive coordinator Bobo to the recently hired Austin Davis, but it will take time for Finley to feel more freedom within the system.

Look for Auburn to try to dictate the tempo of Tuesday's game through Bigsby, who could easily be the top DFS scorer at the position if he plays up to his potential.


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