After the dust settled on championship weekend, the bowl invitations were announced, and Auburn found out its fate for the postseason. The Tigers will be heading to the frosty northern wasteland of Birmingham to tangle at legendary Legion (Lesion) Field with the Houston Cougars.
Auburn, of course, finished the season at 6-6 after an 0-4 finish to the season, and they’ll match up against the runner up in the AAC.
— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) December 5, 2021
The Tigers will face off against Houston in the 2021 Birmingham Bowl!#WarEagle | @Birmingham_Bowl
Houston concluded the year falling in the AAC title game to Cincinnati, finishing their season at 11-2 and ending ranked #20 in the final polls.
Auburn and the Cougars haven’t met in a while, but the two were relatively frequent competitors during the Shug Jordan era.
That lone loss in the Bluebonnet Bowl? Well, if you wanted to watch future Auburn stars not do so great as freshmen, it was your game. Here’s the recap according to the magic of Wikipedia:
Auburn’s Terry Beasley fumbled the opening kickoff and Houston safety Nick Holm recovered to set up a Houston opportunity three minutes into the game. Quarterback Gary Mullins scored on a touchdown plunge to make it 7–0. After Auburn punted the ball, Houston drove 70 yards in 14 plays, culminating with a Carlos Lopez 27-yard field goal to make it 10–0 in the beginning of the second quarter. After another Auburn punt, the Cougars scored again, highlighted by a 74-yard run by Jim Strong on first-and-10 at Houston’s 16 to the Auburn 10. He scored on a touchdown plunge soon after. Auburn’s Mickey Zofko completed a 36-yard halfback option pass to Connie Frederick to make it 16–7 with 3:36 in the half. An 8- play, 71-yard drive was culminated by a Ted Heiskell touchdown run to make it 22–7 in the third quarter. With 11:48 remaining in the game, Houston scored again on a 12 yard touchdown run by Strong. With :35 seconds left, Rusty Clark threw a touchdown pass to Tommy Mozisek to make the final score 36–7. Jim Strong rushed for 184 yards on 32 carries.
Houston ended up pulling a Fred Talley and running for 376 yards in the win, evens coring with :35 seconds left to pull together the final score of 36-7. That means that Auburn has been waiting for 52 years to exact revenge for that act of feckless thuggery.
The Cougars are going to be a pretty solid test for Auburn, after they finished this year 11-1 before championship Saturday. That lone loss came in the opener against Texas Tech before they ripped off eleven straight victories. Just a couple of days ago they lost to Cincinnati, punching a playoff ticket for the Bearcats.
Houston’s season was heavily predicated on the pass under Dana Holgorsen’s scheme, with quarterback Clayton Tune throwing for 29 touchdowns and over 3,200 yards. He hooked up with his favorite receiver Nathaniel Dell (who sounds like he should’ve been a pioneer on the Oregon Trail) for 80 catches, 1,179 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
Kickoff for this one comes on December 28th at 11 AM CST/12 PM EST, and you can buy tickets RIGHT HERE.
As for the rest of the SEC, let’s check out what they’re doing —
SEC BOWL SCHEDULE
Armed Forced Bowl (Missouri vs Army) - I’d forgotten that Missouri was playing football this year, they’re going to get about 15 minutes of possession the rest of this year playing Army, so they’ll have to be efficient.
Gasparilla Bowl (Florida vs UCF) - GUS. You can bet that if Dan Mullen was still there, Gus would actually care about this bowl game and make some plans. Sitting from the position he’s in now, though, I bet he does put some effort into this one.
Liberty Bowl (Mississippi State vs Texas Tech) - Mike Leach is literally still in a lawsuit against Texas Tech. This should be fun.
Duke’s Mayo Bowl (South Carolina vs North Carolina) - They did this a few years ago in the kickoff game in Charlotte, so just rehashing it and filling up that stadium will lead to hilarity. Duke’s Mayo was trying to get the winning team to do a mayo bath, so I’ll be turning this one off as soon as it’s over.
Music City Bowl (Tennessee vs Purdue) - Boilermakers are gonna feel like Buckner walking back into Shea after what Darius Slayton did to them three years ago.
Gator Bowl (Texas A&M vs Wake Forest) - If Jimbo leaves the ACC and then loses to the ACC, it’ll be great.
Cotton Bowl - Playoff Semifinal (Alabama vs Cincinnati) - Can we not just have the rematch first and get it out of the way?
Orange Bowl - Playoff Semifinal (Georgia vs Michigan) - Michigan looked great against Iowa, but... Iowa.
Outback Bowl (Arkansas vs Penn State) - This might actually be a good game, solid spot on New Year’s Day.
Citrus Bowl (Kentucky vs Iowa) - Snooze fest.
Sugar Bowl (Ole Miss vs Baylor) - This will be fun, Lane Kiffin against Dave Aranda.
Texas Bowl (LSU vs Kansas State) - The awkward January 4th bowl game after the semifinals. It’s on a Tuesday and everyone is back to work. Gross.