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Auburn vs. Houston: Live stream, watch online, TV channel, Birmingham Bowl prediction, odds, spread

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No. 20 Houston has been given the opportunity to make an emphatic closing statement against an SEC team when it squares off against an Auburn team Tuesday that is looking to avoid its first losing season since 2012. The Tigers have lost four consecutive games, including the four-overtime loss to top-ranked Alabama in the Iron Bowl the last weekend of November. 

The Cougars fell to No. 4 Cincinnati in the AAC Championship Game on Dec. 4 but had ripped off 11 straight wins prior to the game vs. the Bearcats. This will be a big test for Dana Holgorsen’s crew considering the Tigers should have a massive home-field advantage in Birmingham.

What should you expect in the Birmingham Bowl? Let’s break it down and make picks straight up and against the spread.

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Auburn vs. Houston: Need to know

Auburn’s quarterback position: The last time we saw Auburn play, backup quarterback T.J. Finley was fighting through a leg injury to try and muster up any kind of offense in the Iron Bowl. He was only in that position due to the season-ending leg injury to Bo Nix, who has since transferred to Oregon. Finley will play against the Cougars and do so with coach Bryan Harsin calling the shots instead of recently-fired offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Finley said during bowl prep that Harsin likes to use more tempo and shifts at the line of scrimmage, which fits into what Finley likes as a player. 

Third-down defense: The Cougars lead the nation in third-down defense with 25.58% conversion rate, and it’ll be interesting to see how they attack a Tigers team that has running back Tank Bigsby and a stable of tight ends to use off play-action. Houston is coming off of an AAC title performance in which it prevented the Bearcats from converting all eight of their third-down chances. How Holgorsen’s defense approaches Auburn’s more limited offense on third down could be a defining factor. 

Missing corners: Both teams will have major losses in the secondary. Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary, the No. 33 overall NFL Draft prospect in the CBS Sports prospect rankings, announced last week that he will sit this one out and begin his preparation for the NFL Draft. Houston’s Marcus Jones, a second-team All-American according to CBS Sports, also opted out to start his quest to the pros. Jones is currently tied for second in the nation with five interceptions this season. Will that impact play calling? It should.

How to watch Birmingham Bowl live

Game: Birmingham Bowl
Date
: Tuesday, Dec. 28 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Protective Stadium — Birmingham, Alabama
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Birmingham Bowl prediction, picks

Featured Game | Auburn Tigers vs. Houston Cougars

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Auburn’s defensive performance against Alabama in the Iron Bowl was legendary. Sure, it lost, but that doesn’t take away from an incredible performance. I expect that momentum to carry over to the matchup with the Cougars, which will keep this one within arm’s reach for Finley and the offense. The sophomore signal-caller will work off play-action and do enough through the air to get the win. I’ll take the Tigers to cover since a field goal win will cash a ticket for Harsin’s crew. Prediction: Auburn (-2.5)

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.

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Tommy Pham hits walk-off single to give Red Sox a 3-2 victory over Yankees

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Tommy Pham ripped a walk-off single to give the Boston Red Sox a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees in ten innings.



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Fernando Tatis Jr. suspension: An optimistic look at the Padres’ season without their star shortstop

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The Padres have lost shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. for the rest of the season and into May of next year. He’s been suspended 80 games for a violation of the league’s joint drug agreement

Of course, the Padres haven’t had Tatis all season, so did they actually lose him? 

If it sounds like I’m about to go on a path of optimism in looking at the prospects for the Padres moving forward during Tatis’ suspension, that’s because it’s exactly what I’m going to do. Look, I grew up a Cubs fan. I’ve had to be an eternal optimist for the entirety of my sports fandom in order to maintain sanity. It comes in handy at times like these, so I’ll channel that energy here for the sake of Padres fans — really, for any baseball fans who wanted to see new blood late in the playoffs in the form of these Padres. 

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But mostly those Padres fans who are reeling right now. Let’s get to it. 

Padres haven’t had Tatis anyway

As noted, the Padres have gotten zero games from Tatis this season, so it’s not like they lost a lineup fixture who has been doing heavy lifting for the team all season. That’s what Manny Machado has been doing, and he’s fully capable of continuing to have a huge season. He’s a 29-year-old seasoned veteran. He won’t run out of gas. 

The Padres as a whole have been in playoff position basically all season. They started 14-7 and have been under .500 just one day this season — when they started 0-1. 

A big part of the Padres’ success this season has been the rotation. It’s been one of the better rotations in baseball this season, and with Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea, it figures to remain strong into the playoffs. The Tatis injury doesn’t affect that. 

What needed a boost was the offense. 

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Trade deadline additions

Let’s just take Tatis out of the equation entirely for 2022. Let’s say he was out for the season from the get-go and we never even thought about his return. We’d be talking about a team that was 60-46 through Aug. 2. The starting pitching was in great shape. The bullpen was good as well and added elite potential in Josh Hader in front of the deadline. 

The offense needed a boost. Machado is the star while Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar were having quality offensive seasons, but they needed more. 

Josh Bell was hitting .301/.384/.493 (152 OPS+) with 24 doubles, three triples, 14 homers, 57 RBI and 52 runs in 103 games, and the Padres added him. Brandon Drury was hitting .274/.335/.520 (126 OPS+) with 22 doubles, two triples, 22 homers, 59 RBI and 62 runs in 92 games, and the Padres also added him. 

And, of course, they added one of the best and most polished hitters in baseball: Juan Soto

So, we’re talking about a team that was 14 games over .500 adding a top-shelf closer, two very good offensive players and a generational talent. 

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It sure seems like there’s a chance they’ll be OK, right? 

Division title was unattainable

One area they won’t be OK is in the race for the NL West. That’s over. After being swept by the Dodgers this past weekend, the Padres were facing a 16-game deficit in the division heading into Friday. They were never, ever going to make that many games up in this short period of time. Even if Tatis came back 100 percent healthy and played exponentially better than he ever has, they’d still fall short in the division. 

Follow the Braves’ path? 

In terms of sheer talent level, age and potential moving forward, Ronald Acuña, Jr. is a fair comparison for Tatis. He finished second in MVP voting at age 21 while Tatis finished third at age 22. Acuña might have been en route to an MVP last season, too, but he tore his ACL on July 10. 

The Braves were able to rally without him for a World Series championship. This was a team that only won 88 regular-season games, making them the playoff team with the worst record. They beat a 95-win Brewers team in the NLDS, a 106-win Dodgers team in the NLCS and then a 95-win Astros team in the World Series. 

No two teams ever have the same circumstances. We all know this. The 2021 Braves doesn’t mean the 2022 Padres are going to win the World Series. No one truly believes that. It doesn’t hurt for the team to look at a situation and believe they can pull off something similar, though. Plus, as we established here at the top, the Padres didn’t technically lose Tatis this season, as he never played a game. They also had a better record through July than those Braves did. The Braves didn’t add a player the caliber of Soto at the trade deadline. 

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Hell, if anything, these Padres are better suited for a deep run than those Braves were. 

This has been your optimistic spin on the Padres’ current situation, vis a vis the Tatis suspension. 

Did it work, San Diego? 



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Kyle Tucker crushes go-ahead grand slam to give Astros the lead

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Kyle Trucker crushed a go-ahead grand slam to give the Houston Astros the lead over the Oakland Athletics.



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