clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UAB Blazers vs BYU Cougars: Three Reasons To Watch The 2021 Independence Bowl

New, comments

Two physical teams square off in Shreveport.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Liberty at UAB Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Fans of the #13 BYU Cougars and the UAB Blazers should already have enough reason to tune in to the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl on December 18 at 3:30 PM ET. For casual fans planning a productive pre-Christmas Saturday of watching sports and gambling, however, they might need some additional information. BYU enters this game -7 according to DraftKings with an over/under of 54.5 points.

As evidenced by those numbers, a close game could be in store as these two squads still have plenty to play for, and plenty to offer in terms of intrigue.

*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.


A Historic Win For Either Program

If BYU are able to win this game, it will give them 11 wins in a year for the second time under Kalani Sitake and the sixth time since 2000. It would also be BYU’s first win inside the state of Louisiana in the program’s 97 seasons as a program.

If UAB win, it will be the Blazers’ second-ever bowl win in the program’s 24 seasons of play. The Blazers also won the 2018 Boca Raton Bowl and finished that season 11-3. While the Blazers play in Louisiana regularly, it doesn’t diminish the importance of winning close to home.

“Especially in the southeast region, anytime you can play in different locations from Florida to Louisiana,” Clark told AL.com. “These are all places we recruit and all these different bowls help us. It’s good for your fan base and good for recruiting. We’re always looking in the southeast first but we look nationally. That just helps your footprint.”

Big Talent in the Trenches

Redshirt senior guard Colby Ragland was UAB’s lone offensive first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2021 for the second consecutive season. The Jackson, Mississippi native was named to the Outland Trophy Preseason Watch List and the Wuerffel Trophy Preseason Watch List.

Ragland helped pave the way for 2,119 rushing yards for the offense this year, the team’s most since 2018.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Liberty at UAB Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the defensive side of the ball, UAB’s redshirt senior nose tackle Tyree Turner was also an All-Conference USA selection in 2021. Turner had 20 total tackles this season with 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Turner should be a decent challenge to block for BYU redshirt sophomore left guard Clark Barrington, who was named to the Action Network All-American second team and the Pro Football Focus All-America third team a few days ago. Barrington started every game for the Cougars this season.

After losing three offensive lineman to the NFL after the 2020 season, BYU seemingly didn’t miss a beat in that department.

Both Barrington and center James Empey were on the 2021 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List this season and drew plenty of heavy praise from the Salt Lake/Provo media this season for their dependability and ability to win the line of scrimmage.

From Walk-On To Touchdown Leader

Sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier has averaged 5.7 yards per carry this season with a total of 1414 rushing yards. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Allgeier could break the BYU program record for rushing yards in a season (1582) but he will need one of his bigger rushing days. His high this season was 266 against Virginia on October 30. Allgeier also shares the FBS lead in rushing touchdowns this season with four other backs after crossing the goal line 20 times.

Brigham Young Cougars defeated the USC Trojans 35-31 during a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Allgeier’s effectiveness as a rusher has an added layer of impressiveness to it considering where he came from. The Fontana, California native was a zero star recruit coming out of high school and walked on at BYU expecting to play linebacker. After a few impressive plays when he saw the field as a running back in 2020, Allgeier when on to be one of the team’s main weapons this season on their way to ten wins.

Allgeier could very well leave for the NFL following this game, so it seems reasonable to expect him to put on one last big show, if this is his last game for Kalani Sitake.