One year ago in #theReturn, UAB surprised the college football world by winning eight games. It was a magical season by all accounts for the UAB and Birmingham family. Unfortunately, the Blazers didn’t get their storybook ending as UAB suffered a blowout loss in the Bahamas Bowl against Ohio.
One year later, with their first ever Conference USA Championship secured, the UAB Blazers made sure they were not going to suffer the same fate. In the fifth annual Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl, UAB got a shot at redemption against another MAC school, Northern Illinois, and capitalized with a resounding 37-13 win for their first bowl victory in school history.
The Blazers’ 37 points and 476 yards gained was a major surprise, as the Boca Bowl was expected to be a low-scoring affair between two dominant defenses.
Entering the game I pegged Tyler Johnston III as my key player and his play certainly determined the outcome of the game. Johnston passed for 373 yards and four touchdowns.
On the first play of the game UAB’s offense set the tone as Johnston connected with Xavier Ubosi for a 70-yard touchdown. Leading 17-10 halfway through the second quarter, Johnston found Ubosi for another touchdown, this one from 46 yards out.
After NIU scored a field goal to cut UAB’s lead to 14 halfway through the third quarter, Johnston found Ubosi yet again for a 66-yard touchdown to put the game away for good. Ubosi finished with seven catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns.
UAB’s defense was its usual dominant self. NIU entered the game averaging 171.5 rushing yards. The Blazers’ defense held NIU to 108 rushing yards, 287 total yards, and forced two turnovers.
After getting embarrassed on the first day of bowl season in which North Texas and Middle Tennessee both suffered blowout loses, UAB gives C-USA a much-needed win to give the league a 1-2 bowl record. C-USA is now 4-0 all-time in the Boca Raton Bowl.
More importantly for UAB though, the Blazers finish the 2018 season with a school record 11 wins. With Tyler Johnston, Spencer Brown, and a bevy of starters on the offensive line slated to return in 2019, tonight’s explosive offense could be more of the same for UAB next season.