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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs UAB Blazers: How To Watch, Preview, Prediction

The Tops and Blazers square off for just the seventh time.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 18 Boca Raton Bowl - UAB v Northern Illinois Photo by Douglas Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Location: Houchens Stadium in Bowling Green, KY

Game Time: 7 PM ET

How To Watch: ESPN +

Series History: This matchup is the first time that WKU has met the Blazers since the program returned. Their last matchup came during the 2014 season where the Blazers were victorious by a score of 42-39. The two teams have just met six times total with each team winning three games up to this point.


Outlook

Let’s start with the Hilltoppers. Starting quarterback Steven Duncan is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. That leaves two likely options at the position for Tyson Helton’s team: Davis Shanley and Ty Storey. Neither has played meaningful snaps in quite a while. We saw Shanley start four games last year before Duncan replaced him. The redshirt sophomore threw for 941 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in 2018. Storey is a grad transfer from Arkansas who played briefly in the FIU game a couple of weeks ago, with his last start for the Razorbacks coming at the tail end of their 1-11 campaign last season. He threw for 1,584 yards with 11 touchdowns and a passing efficiency of 116.94

So if the passing game is a risk, the running game is the way to go, right? Here’s the thing: through three games, UAB have the second best run defense in the league allowing just 95.3 yards per game. The Blazers are not too shabby against the pass either allowing 185.7 yards per game through the air, which ranks third in C-USA.

On the offensive side for UAB, Tyler Johnston III has been solid under center with 8 passing TDs and a completion percentage of 64.3. Running back Spencer Brown has yet to really turn loose this season with just 192 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Brown could once again have a tough day against a WKU defensive line that’s been a nuisance for each of their opponents to date. In particular, DeAngelo Malone and Juwuan Jones have combined for 11 tackles for loss in the first three games.

Conversely, WKU are somewhat vulnerable in the secondary. They are allowing a league worst 226 pass yards per game so far. With an average like that, Johnston could be set to continue his hot streak.

Prediction

The bottom line is there is just more reason to be confident in UAB’s offense right now than there is for WKU’s offense. If WKU plays it aggressive like they did against FIU and in the second half against Louisville, than they might have a better shot. Right now though, it’s hard to bet against the surging Blazers.

UAB wins 34-20