With bowl season finally upon us, Friday morning sees the first bowl game of the year as the Miami (OH) RedHawks (6-6) take on the UAB Blazers (6-6) in the HomeTown Lenders Bahamas Bowl. This game will be played at Thomas Robinson Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 11:30 AM ET.
The RedHawks finished the season fourth in the MAC and are coming off of an 18-17 win over Ball State in their last matchup. In that game, which was played back on November 22, Miami’s Aveon Smith threw for 217 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He also rushed for 84 yards and a score.
For UAB, who finished fifth in Conference USA, they also won their last game, beating LA Tech 37-27 on November 26. DeWayne McBride led the Blazers’ offense with 16 carries for 272 yards and a touchdown. Jermaine Brown Jr added 119 yards and two scores on 22 carries.
UAB comes in as heavy favorites in this one. They are -400 to win, while the RedHawks’ moneyline sits at +310. The spread features Miami (OH) +10.5 (-118), and the over/under for total points is 45.5.
RedHawks Look To Stay Hot
After a rough start to the season, the Miami (OH) RedHawks managed to win three of their last four games in order to become bowl eligible. Now that they are here, they are looking to upset the Blazers as double digit underdogs.
Offensively, Miami (OH) ranked just 113th in the nation, averaging just 19.3 points per game. They will certainly need to improve on that mark to keep up with the Blazers.
Leading the way under center for the RedHawks is freshman quarterback Aveon Smith. This season, he threw for 1,137 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions. Smith also leads the team in rushing, going for 503 yards and six scores on 101 attempts.
The other leading rusher is Keyon Mozee, who had 455 yards on 106 carries and two touchdowns this season.
Defensively, the RedHawks rank 36th in the nation, allowing 23.3 points per game to opponents. The most important facet of the defense will be the ability to stop the run. This season, they ranked 51st against the run, allowing opponents 144.5 yards per game.
UAB Might Be Without Nation’s Leading Rusher
The leading rusher in the nation did not come from a premier program like Georgia or Michigan; rather, it came from UAB. DeWayne McBride led the nation in rushing this year, but UAB might be without the star back Friday.
On the year, McBride rushed 233 times for 1,713 yards and 19 touchdowns. Still, it appears as though he might forego the bowl game for personal reasons.
If he doesn’t play, UAB has a suitable replacement in Jermaine Brown Jr. This season, he also showed he can be lethal from the backfield, rushing for 832 yards and another six scores.
Junior quarterback Dylan Hopkins will take the snaps for the Blazers. He threw for 1,709 yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions this season.
As a whole, UAB’s squad ranked 63rd in scoring, averaging 28 points per game. They ranked 50th in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of 25.5 points per game.
Take UAB To Win And Cover
Even though McBride might not play for UAB, this still just feels like a great matchup for the Blazers. Even without their leading rusher, they have a more than competent backup that should be able to help them put points on the board.
Looking at the trends, Miami (OH) is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games, and they are 1-7 straight up in their last eight against Conference USA teams.
For UAB, they are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games, but all six of their wins this season were by 10 or more points.
The biggest problem for the RedHawks is that if they get down in this one, they might not have the firepower to catch back up. Expect UAB to not only win this one, but to cover the -10.5 point spread.
Take UAB -10.5 (-104).