Not many teams have been more impressive than UAB this season, coming off a two-year hiatus to post an eight-win campaign. To celebrate, the Blazers get to play in the Bahamas Bowl, a Game that always seems to lack defense due to the situation. Ohio has had a fine season and will try to get the MAC back on track in this bowl after EMU fell last year. The Bobcats opened as early -7.5 favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The biggest thing for UAB might be that it didn’t lose at home this season. On the other side of that the Blazers only won twice on the road, which could show up in this one. They did take down two teams with winning records on the road (USM, UTSA), although also gave Charlotte its only win of the season. UAB finished with more wins against bowl eligible teams, but Ohio has the biggest win of them both with the 38-10 trouncing of MAC champion Toledo. Still, the Bobcats closed the season with back-to-back losses, which left them out of the Conference title Game.
There’s one major aspect that separates these teams and it’s probably the reason Ohio is favored. The Bobcats run a speed option on offense that has led to quarterback Nathan ROurke averaging 6.6 yards per carry for 21 touchdowns. Top running back A.J. OUellette is dealing with a sprained shoulder from the final Game, but his backup Dorian Brown (605 yards, 7 TDs) averages almost a yard more per carry. ROurke has been fine through the air, but this is a run-first team, which helps because he’s completing 54.4 percent of his passes.
That doesn’t help UAB, which is much worse against the run, giving up 4.4 yards per carry and almost 170 rushing yards per Game. Defensively, Ohio is stout up front, allowing just 3.4 yards per carry and 111 rushing yards per Game. That is a huge difference and will be tough for UAB to overcome because they are also a run-first team.
The Blazers have built their offense around running back Spencer Brown, who has 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns in his freshman season. When he finds yards, this team wins. But when Brown struggles to get anything going, that’s when this offense has trouble moving the ball. Quarterback A.J. Erdely has also had more success on the ground with 13 rushing touchdowns compared to 16 through the air. Erdely completes more than 60 percent of his passes, but has thrown for more than 208 yards just once this season. Ohio struggles mightily against the passing giving up 261 yards per Game, but if Erdely can’t take advantage of that, it will be a tough Game for UAB to find a way.
It’s worth noting that every team Ohio has lost to this season has exploited the Bobcats in the secondary. So if you bet UAB, that means you have faith in Erdely to have one of his best passing Games of the season. The Blazers have covered in their last five against teams with a winning record, while the Bobcats are 12-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 4-1 ATS in their last five bowls.
Our Pick – Ohio U -7.5