Time and Date: 3:30 PM ET, September 17
Broadcast Network: Stadium
Location: Protective Stadium - Birmingham, AL
ESPN FPI: UAB, 71.7%
Line: UAB -12*
Point Total: O/U 56.5*
All-Time Series: This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs.
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Georgia Southern Outlook
Following Georgia Southern’s stunning upset at Nebraska last week that capped off a banner weekend in the Sun Belt, the Eagles will set their sights on starting 3-0 this week against a very different UAB squad.
The defense, and particularly, the front-seven will need to be aggressive at the point of attack, as the Blazers have a huge offensive line and like to run the football quite a bit. While the Eagles win last week was great, the defense took a huge step back from week one to week two.
While the jump in competition from FCS Morgan State to Nebraska must be acknowledged, when the Cornhuskers failed to score last week it was mostly due to their own mistakes and less to do with Southern’s defense. They will need to be ready against one of the premiere programs in the Group of Five on Saturday.
Offensively, the Eagles need to do exactly what they have been over the first two weeks of the season. Kyle Vantrease is currently on a blistering 4,656 yard, 30 touchdown pace for the year, but simply needs to cut out his one or two decision-making mistakes in order to capture a spot among the elite passers in the conference this year.
The playcalling by offensive coordinator Bryan Ellis has been extremely sharp since the second half of the season opener, with a host of offensive weapons giving the Eagles first two opponents fits. Southern currently ranks 2nd in the country in total offense and 5th in points per game, so hopefully this success can continue throughout the year.
The Blazers have had an up-and-down start to the season through two games so far, blowing out HBCU Alabama A&M 59-0 in the opener before falling to Liberty 21-14 last week. UAB’s bread and butter on offense has come through its previously mentioned ground game and the legs of running backs Jermaine Brown Jr. (102.5 yards per game) and DeWayne McBride (88.5 ypg).
The passing game hasn’t been as much of a focal point for the Blazers, with quarterback Dylan Hopkins throwing for just 114 yards on 15 attempts in last week’s loss to the Flames. If UAB wants to put away Georgia Southern in this one, the game plan on offense should be controlling the clock with its rushing attack and keeping Vantrease and company sidelined for as long as possible.
Defensively, the Blazers have been middle of the country (49th in total yardage allowed), surrendering 312.5 yards per game in its two contests. Teams have had slightly better odds throwing the ball against UAB than running it this season, with some of the numbers being skewed by the contest against Alabama A&M to open the year.
I think UAB is an incredibly formidable team, but shutting down the passing attack of Georgia Southern is an arduous task, just ask Nebraska. While the Blazers will want to gut it out on the ground, if the Eagles get up by a score or two it may be tough for the home team to keep pace.
I anticipate this one to be lower scoring than Southern’s last two contests, but I think they ultimately pull out the win here.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 31, UAB 24