2. Houston’s defense did what the Houston defense was supposed to do
Houston came into the game leading the nation in third down stops.
It allowed Auburn to convert just 4-of-13 chances.
Houston’s D was 11th in the nation against the run, fifth in sacks, and sixth in total defense.
Auburn ran for 125 yards, was sacked once, and finished with 352 yards.
But it gave up one touchdown and held firm time and again, and it got the job done against a team that struggled with its offense late in the year but pushed Alabama to the brink.
This was a Cougar team that had its down moments, gave up too many points at odd times, but it was fully focused and locked down in this, and now the program has its first bowl win since Tom Herman took the Cougars to a stunning victory over Florida State in the 2015 Peach Bowl.
And head coach Dana Holgorsen has his first bowl win since taking 2015 West Virginia to the Cactus Bowl title.
This win doesn’t mean Houston is about to take off from here, but it’s going to make the offseason a whole lot more fun. On the other side …