Location: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Game Time: 11:30 a.m.
TV: Stadium/Fox Sports Regional
Radio: WJOX 94.5
Series History: UAB leads the series 3-1, beating UTSA last season 33-14
UAB Outlook - Kyle Dubbels
It’s Homecoming for the Blazers this week as they look to extend their home winning streak to 20 games with a win against the UTSA Roadrunners. While Homecoming will look a little bit different, it will still be UAB’s “Children’s Harbor Game”.
In 2017, UAB began a Homecoming tradition of partnering with Children’s Harbor, a great charity that provides sick children and their families a place to have fun and relax, to raise money and awareness for their mission. Part of that partnership is pairing a patient with a player and displaying that patient’s name on the back of the player’s jersey. That tradition continues this year, along with the alternate lime and grey jerseys.
While you won’t see players’ names on their jerseys you will still get to see them play. That means you’ll get another dose of Bryson Lucero, who is coming off his first start against South Alabama. Lucero looked poised and ready last week, throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Of course, it helps when you have a back like Spencer Brown, who scored three touchdowns to become UAB’s career leader in rushing touchdowns (and needs three more to become UAB’s all time TD leader). While Brown has 306 yards on the season, I think yards will be a little hard to come by against UTSA as they’ll try to make Lucero beat them through the air. UTSA has also looked pretty stout against the run this season, albeit against weaker teams.
That sets up an interesting matchup between UAB’s offensive line (which has only allowed two sacks this year) and UTSA’s defense (which ranks 2nd in the nation with 11 sacks). Look for lots of pressure on Lucero, which may lead to big games for Austin Watkins and Myron Mitchell, assuming Lucero can handle the heat.
The Blazers’ defense, meanwhile, will try to contain Sincere McCormick, UTSA’s running back who ranks second nationally with 377 rushing yards, and new starting QB Josh Adkins. I followed Adkins when he played for NM State. He has a good arm and looked good last week against MTSU but has had a tendency to throw interceptions. I anticipate Noah Wilder having another big game after totaling 21 tackles against USA last week.
UTSA Outlook - Jared Kalmus
It’s very 2020 that both programs will be starting fresh faces at quarterback this week. UTSA starter Frank Harris is expected to sit out following a knee sprain last week, while Bryson Lucero will be making his second start in place of Tyler Johnston.
Barring a quick recovery from Harris, Josh Adkins will be making his first start at UTSA after starting 22 games for the New Mexico State Aggies earlier in his career. A San Antonio product, Adkins performed admirably after being thrust into action following Frank Harris’ injury late in the second quarter. Adkins went on to pass for 233 yards and a touchdown and should be ready to face a stiffer challenge this week against UAB’s stiff secondary.
The Roadrunners are 3-0, but have faced one of the lightest schedules in the FBS so far. UAB this week is a serious jump up in opposing talent level.
If UTSA is to make this game competitive, they’ll have to enjoy a terrific game on the ground from star running back Sincere McCormick. While McCormick’s relief Brenden Brady is out with injury, McCormick is forced to carry pretty much the entire load of the run game. McCormick certainly has the talent to take advantage of UAB’s mediocre run defense (allowing over 5 yards per carry so far this season).
Perhaps the toughest challenge for the Roadrunners this week will be minimizing the damage of UAB running back Spencer Brown and the rest of the Blazers’ talented backs. UTSA’s defensive line has been rock solid this far, but the defense as a whole have struggled with tackling through stretches of the season. If the Roadrunners can’t bring Brown and co. down at first contact then the UTSA defense will be on the field for way too long to maintain stamina.
Jared: I do think UTSA’s offense will be able to find the end zone on a few drives, but UAB is simply too tough of an opponent for the Roadrunners to realistically knock off at this point in Jeff Traylor’s regime. Austin Watkins and Myron Mitchell should have huge days for UAB as the Blazers cruise to a 45-31 victory.
Kyle: UTSA may be 3-0 but they really haven’t played a team that is as good as UAB, and barely beat a really bad Blue Raiders team last week at home. The Blazers were able to hang with Miami for three quarters and should be able to handle the Roadrunners during Homecoming. UAB 38 Roadrunners 21.