TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl today, Houston Cougars looking to upset SEC’s Auburn Tigers

Cougars making 29th all-time bowl appearance

HOUSTON – Houston makes its 29th bowl appearance all-time when the Cougars face off against the Auburn Tigers in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl at 11 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Dec. 28, from the newly-opened Protective Stadium.

For the latest information, visit Houston Bowl Central by clicking here.

Houston is making its 14th bowl appearance in the last 17 seasons. The Cougars (11-2) won 11 straight games during the regular season highlighted by an 8-0 mark in American Athletic Conference play and appearance in The American Championship Game.

Auburn (6-6) is making its 44th bowl appearance and is appearing in a bowl for the ninth consecutive year. The Tigers won six of their first eight games in 2021 before dropping four straight including a quadruple overtime loss to No. 3 Alabama in the regular season finale.

The matchup will be the first between Houston and Auburn since 1973. The Cougars defeated the Tigers, 36-7, in the lone bowl matchup between the programs, coming in the Bluebonnet Bowl on Dec. 31, 1969.

Fans can now join the UH Football Priority Waitlist. For just $75, the Houston Ticket Office will hold your season tickets for the 2022 season. Don’t miss a minute of the action and get into the process to select your seats for next year and future years of UH Football. Click here or call 713-Go-Coogs today.

GAME 14
#21/21 Houston (11-2) vs. Auburn (6-6)
Dec. 28, 2021 | 11 a.m. CT | Protective Stadium | Birmingham, Ala.
Broadcast: ESPN
Radio: KPRC 950 AM
 
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
« Houston has appeared in 14 bowl games in the last 17 seasons (2005-present), a mark that ranks second among programs in Texas (Texas A&M – 15). Houston’s 89 victories since 2011 also rank second among FBS schools in Texas (Texas A&M – 92).
 
« Houston has not faced an SEC program since Oct. 31, 2015, when it defeated Vanderbilt, 34-0 at TDECU Stadium. Since 1999, the Cougars are 5-4 against the SEC including wins against LSU (1999), Mississippi State (2003, 2005, 2009) and Vanderbilt (2015).
 
« Houston is making its 28th bowl appearance. The Cougars are 11-15-1 all-time in bowl games and have dropped the last four (2016-present). Houston’s last bowl victory was a 38-24 win over No. 9/8 Florida State in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, 2015.
 
« The Cougars are making their second appearance in the Birmingham Bowl. In its lone previous appearance, coming Jan. 4, 2014, against Vanderbilt, Houston rallied from 24 points down to tie the game before falling 41-24. The Cougars scored all 24 points in the third quarter, the most points in a period in Birmingham Bowl history.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
« Houston has won 11-plus games in a season five times in program history (2021, 2015, 2011, 1979, 1973). Houston’s five 10-plus win seasons since 2006 are tied for the second most among FBS programs in Texas, trailing only TCU (8).
 
« Houston checked in at No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 21 in the AP Top 25. It marks the sixth consecutive week garnering a national ranking in both polls. Houston is ranked No. 20 in the latest CFP Selection Committee Poll, its highest mark since Nov. 22, 2016 (also at No. 20).
 
« Termed the “Third Ward Defense,” the Cougars’ unit leads the nation in third down conversion % defense (.256), ranks fifth in team sacks (3.38), sixth in total defense (297.2), seventh in first downs defense (195), 11th in red zone defense (.733), 12th in rushing defense (105.7) and 14th in turnovers gained (23).
 
« Houston is one of six FBS teams ranked inside the Top 15 nationally for both scoring offense and total defense, joining Alabama, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Georgia and Michigan. The Cougars are averaging 37.3 points per game (15th) and holding opponents to 297.2 yards per contest (6th).
 
« Twelve Houston student-athletes were named to The American’s all-conference team, the most since having as many in 2015. Houston’s six first-team all-conference honorees marked the most for the program since joining The American and were the most first-team all-conference honorees for the program since 2011 as a member of Conference USA.
 
SCOUTING AUBURN
« Auburn finished its season at 6-6 after dropping four consecutive games including a 24-22 four-overtime loss to Alabama in the season finale. The Tigers played the nation’s second-toughest schedule per ESPN FPI.
 
« The Tigers are under the direction of first-year head coach Bryan Harsin. Harsin spent the previous seven seasons as head coach at Boise State, where he compiled a 69-19 record while winning three Mountain West Conference titles.
 
« Auburn ranks seventh nationally in blocked punts (3), 12th in defensive touchdowns (3), 14th in team tackles for loss (7.2), 24th in kickoff return defense (18.33) and 25th in punt return defense (4.12).
 
« The Tigers are making their 46th bowl appearance and ninth consecutive bowl. Auburn is 24-19-2 all-time in bowl games. The Tigers are looking for their first bowl win since Dec. 28, 2018, when they defeated Purdue, 63-14, in the Music City Bowl. 
 
INSIDE THE SERIES: VS. AUBURN
« Auburn leads the all-time series 5-1 over Houston. Tuesday marks the first matchup between the teams since Oct. 27, 1973, in Auburn. 
 
« Two of Houston’s longest plays in program history came against Auburn. Joe Lopasky’s 82-yard punt return touchdown (Sept. 21, 1963) is the second-longest punt return in program history. Paul Sweeten’s 89-yard interception return touchdown (Oct. 26, 1957) is the sixth-longest interception return all-time.
 
« Houston held Auburn to 1 rushing yard in the 1969 Bluebonnet Bowl, the fewest allowed by the Cougars in bowl history. The Cougars won the contest, 36-7, on Dec. 31, 1969, in the lone bowl matchup between the two teams.
 
A HOUSTON WIN WOULD …
« Mark the third time Houston has won 12-plus games in a season (2011 – 13; 2015 – 13).
 
« Snap a four-game bowl losing streak (2016-present) and move the Cougars to 12-15-1 all-time in bowl action.
 
« Move Houston to 2-5 all-time against Auburn and 2-0 in bowl games.
 
2022 SEASON TICKET WAITLIST
Fans can now join the UH Football Priority Waitlist. For just $75, the Houston Ticket Office will hold your season tickets for the 2022 season. Don’t miss a minute of the action and get into the process to select your seats for next year and future years of UH Football. Click here or call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) today.
 
STAY CONNECTED
Follow Houston Football on Twitter and Instagram at @UHCougarFB, and “Like” Houston Cougar Football on Facebook.

Protective Stadium home of UAB Blazers. 2021 photo. CC BY-SA 4.0, https en.wikipedia.org

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