UAB Blazers (C-USA) vs Alabama A&M Bulldogs (FCS, SWAC)
Date/Time: Thursday, September 1, 7:00 PM CT, 8:00 PM ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Location: Protective Stadium - Birmingham, AL
ESPN FPI: UAB 99.4%
All-Time Series Record: These two teams have met twice with those games coming in 2014 and 2017. UAB won both meetings by multiple touchdowns.
UAB are once again picked to finish near the top of Conference USA in 2022. After finishing just short of another division title in 2021, they went on to beat a BYU team ranked #13, at the time, in the Independence Bowl. This was their highest ranked victory in school history.
This season, a few things have changed. Bill Clark, the man who had been their head coach for their last six seasons (the program was on hiatus after the 2014 season and returned for the 2017 season) and led them to two league titles and three division titles, stepped down due to chronic back issues over the summer. Bryant Vincent is now in the interim head coach role after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator since 2018. Vincent was also the team’s offensive coordinator in 2014.
At C-USA Media Day, Vincent had this to say when asked if he felt prepared for the season:
“I’m more than ready for this situation, for this opportunity. I’ve been a head coach in the state of Alabama at the high school level for five years. I had the opportunity to turn two programs around in Greenville High School and Spanish Fort High School...I’ve worked hand in hand with Coach Clark every year that I’ve been here and I’ more than ready for this opportunity because it’s about leading men. That’s one of the things that God blessed me with, leadership ability and being able to relate to kids and being able to lead them on and off the field.”
Since UAB joined the FBS in 1996, they have not lost to an FCS opponent. Alabama A&M has not played an FBS opponent since 2018 when they lost to Cincinnati 63-7.
The Bulldogs have some questions as they make the 90-minute drive from Huntsville to Birmingham. For starters, it’s tough to imagine that they immediately replace the passing production of Aqeel Glass, who threw for an impressive 109 touchdowns in his four years with the program. They do still have receiver Abudul-Fatai Ibrahim, who was the only receiver in the SWAC last year to total more than 1,000 yards and averaged 15 yards per catch. Ibrahim has been a consistent contributor for the Bulldogs since his freshman season in 2019.
Defensively, the Bulldogs will be playing a starting lineup of, potentially, 11 new starters. This includes former Illinois corner and four-star recruit Marquez Beason, former West Virginia defensive end Eddie Watkins, and JUCO defensive tackle Jereicho Taamu. They also added former Alabama walk on Kyle Mann to the roster late in the summer,
Make no mistake, Alabama A&M are no slouch program. They’ve had winning seasons every year since 2017. It’s just hard to see them competing with UAB in the trenches given how well those offensive and defensive lines have developed.
Even with someone who isn’t Bill Clark at head coach, the Blazers should breeze through their opening opponent, in theory. Even though it would be understandable for there to be some hiccups in week one, they had little trouble with that last year when they shutout Jacksonville State in week one 31-0. This week’s game has the potential to be similar.