Houston vs


at Birmingham
Tue, Dec 28
9:00 AM Pacific
Rotation: 237
Odds: Auburn -2.5, Total: 51.5

Game Analysis

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Auburn (-2.5)  25   Houston  23

Auburn will be without their starting quarterback, a pair of starting offensive linemen, and their best two defensive players while Houston will be without their All-American cornerback/kick-punt returner. The defections hurt Auburn more than they hurt Houston, but the line has adjusted properly.

Auburn’s offense will be led by quarterback T.J. Finley, who is certainly a downgrade from Bo Nix, who got a lot of criticism from Auburn fans but was actually a good quarterback given his better than average yards per pass play number (0.7 yppp better than average), very low interception rate (just 3 interceptions on 323 passes this season and just 16 total in 3 seasons as the starter), and good running (282 yards on 44 runs). Finley is not an accomplished passer, as he’s completed just 56.7% of his 231 career passes (just 56% this season) while rating at 0.2 yppp worse than average in his career (worse in two starts this season). Finley also appears to be a downgrade to Nix in the rushing department, as he’s averaged only 3.7 yards on 31 career runs.

The Tigers’ aerial attack takes a significant and Auburn’s rushing attack should also be worse without the running of Bo Nix and two starting offensive linemen. Top runner Tank Bigsby, who decided to transfer and then came back, averaged only 4.5 ypr in games against FBS teams and just 4.2 ypr if you also exclude the week 1 game against a horrendous Akron run defense. Backup tailback Jarquez Hunter averaged 5.6 ypr against FBS teams and 4.8 ypr also excluding Akron, so he would be an upgrade over Bigsby, who is back at the top of the depth chart. I project Auburn to run for 5.0 ypr against a mediocre Houston run defense and for Finley to average only 5.5 yards per pass play even after accounting for the absence of Houston’s first-team All-American CB Marcus Jones, who defended 18 passes (including 5 interceptions).

Houston’s offense is just 0.1 yards per pass play better than average (6.1 yppl against teams that would allow 6.0 yppl to an average team) and Auburn’s defense was 0.6 yppl better than average in the regular season. However, the absence of stars LB Zakoby McClain (leading tackler and 6 passes defended) and first-team All-American CB Roger McCreary (16 passes defended) hurt the defense, as those two key defenders project to be worth a combined 2.8 points. The Cougars are projected to gain 365 yards at 5.4 yppl, which takes the expected bad weather (12 mph winds and 25% chance of rain) into account.

Jones’ absence from Houston is also a major blow to their special teams, as Jones had 4 return touchdowns this season while averaging 34.0 yards per kick return and 14.4 yards per punt return. Auburn has very good coverage teams and should be able to contain Houston’s replacement for Jones.

Overall, my math favors Auburn by 1.2 points with a total of 48.2 points.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Houston
  • Auburn


  • Run Plays 33.7 28.3
  • Run Yards 165.0 132.3
  • YPRP 4.9 4.7


  • Pass Comp 22.1 17.1
  • Pass Att 32.3 30.5
  • Comp % 68.5% 56.0%
  • Pass Yards 273.3 204.5
  • Sacks 2.8 3.0
  • Sack Yards 20.3 18.1
  • Sack % 7.9% 9.0%
  • Pass Plays 35.0 33.5
  • Net Pass Yards 253.0 186.4
  • YPPP 7.2 5.6


  • Total Plays 68.7 61.8
  • Total Yards 418.0 318.8
  • YPPL 6.1 5.2


  • Int 0.8 1.2
  • Int % 2.3% 3.8%
  • Fumbles 0.2 0.6
  • Turnovers 0.9 1.8
  • Points 37.3 21.0
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