Date: Saturday, October 17
Location: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Radio: Birmingham 94.5 WJOX
Series History: WKU leads the series 4-3, winning last season 20-13 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The UAB Blazers play host to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Saturday at Legion Field looking for their 21st home win in a row. The Blazers will be looking for revenge after losing 20-13 to the Hilltoppers last season, when they forced Tyler Johnston into throwing four interceptions.
On paper, this looks like it should be a Blazer win, with WKU giving up 30 ppg and UAB scoring 30.5 ppg, while WKU averages only 19.8 ppg on offense and the Blazer D hitting its stride and only surrendering 22.2.
But games aren’t played on paper.
Brycen Lucero will be making his third career start after throwing for three touchdowns and three interceptions in UAB’s last game against UTSA. Look for WKU to try and put pressure on Lucero and steal a win by forcing interceptions like last season, although they only have one interception on the season and are giving up an average of 213.8 passing yards per game.
The Blazers will likely mix it up on offense and be pretty balanced in the contest, will cut down on the turnovers and have a good performance. They will have to stop WKU star end DeAngelo Malone who leads the league in tackles for loss per game with 1.5.
On the defensive side, the Blazers have hit their stride the past two games allowing only 23 ppg and now rank 21st nationally in total defense. They’ve also held opponents to 5-25 on third downs.
They will have the task of stopping Maryland transfer QB Tyrrell Pigrome, WKU’s leading passer and rusher. So far, he has thrown for 559 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. He also adds 225 yards on the ground. If the Blazers are able to stop Pigrome I think they will have no problem with the Hilltoppers.
2020 has not been the follow up to Tyson Helton’s stellar first year at the helm that the Topper faithful had hoped for. WKU are tenth out of the 12 teams in the league this season in scoring offense with 19.8 points per game. They have also scored just 79 points on the year - the fewest of any C-USA team that has played at least four games.
The Topper defense has had its moments, but has also been lackluster. Allowing an average of 30 points per game won’t get you far at any level of football. Nevertheless, defensive end DeAngelo Malone is once again putting together an admirable individual season with six tackles for loss and two sacks so far.
Another positive for the Tops: redshirt sophomore kicker Brayden Narveson hasn’t missed a field goal (3) or an extra point attempt (10) through the first four games of the year.
A leaner Spencer Brown on UAB presents a tough challenge for the WKU defense this week. Brown is tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with five and has the second highest rushing yards total with 450. WKU are allowing an average of 195.5 rushing yards per game this season.
Regardless of if Helton sticks with a struggling Tyrell Pigrome at quarterback or hands the reins to one of his young guns, this seems like an especially steep mountain to climb for the 1-3 Tops.
UAB have all the tools to make this one a landslide victory. It’s just a matter of executing. Blazers win 31-14.