Houston rallies late over Auburn, wins Birmingham Bowl 17-13

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune (3) throws a pass against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college football game Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) (Butch Dill, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Clayton Tune connected with Jake Herslow for a 26-yard touchdown with 3:27 left to help lead No. 20 Houston over Auburn 17-13 in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl on Tuesday.

The score capped off an 8-play drive covering 80 yards when the Cougars were down 13-10.

Houston had led most of the game until late in the third quarter when Auburn’s T.J. Finley hit Kobe Hudson with a 12-yard score late in the third quarter.

But that only set the stage for the UH heroics in the fourth quarter for the bowl victory.

Tune finished 26-40 through the air for 283 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception and he also rushed for 43 yards on seven carries. Nathaniel Dell led Houston receivers with 10 catches for 150 yards. Alton McCaskill rushed for 78 yards on 14 carries.

UH finishes their season 12-2. Auburn finishes 6-7.

Herslow caught a 26-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass from Clayton Tune with 3:27 left to help lift No. 21 Houston to a 17-13 victory over Auburn on Tuesday in the Birmingham Bowl.

Game MVP Tune completed 26 of 40 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns with an interception while also rushing for 43 yards. Nathaniel Dell caught 10 passes for 150 yards, while Alton McCaskill ran for 66 yards and caught a touchdown pass.

Auburn, which fired offensive coordinator Mike Bobo after the regular season, had one more chance but couldn’t get a first down. Tank Bigsby ran for 8 yards on first down and then T.J. Finley threw three straight incompletions on short passes.

Houston ran out the clock.

Finley completed 19 of 34 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown in his third start since replacing injured Bo Nix. Bigsby had 88 rushing yards and 68 receiving yards.

The Cougars had moved across midfield for the go-ahead score after Auburn’s second targeting ejection, this time against Jaylin Simpson.

Tune set it up with a 20-yard pass to tight end Christian Trahan.

The Tigers rallied from a 10-0 deficit to take the lead late in the third quarter on Kobe Hudson’s 12-yard touchdown catch from Finley on third and goal.


Houston punctuated one of its better seasons with a win over a Southeastern Conference team, this one after taking off following an opening loss.

Auburn had another game that slipped away late, including a quadruple-overtime loss to No. 1 Alabama. The Tigers were without some key players who were hurt, transferred or opted out.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Authors:

Born in Canada but raised in Houston, Howard joined KPRC 2 in 2021 after five years at ESPN. Before that, Howard was a reporter on Houston Rockets and Houston Astros game broadcasts. Among the events that Howard has covered on site: the NBA bubble and the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions for both Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. He's H-town proud!