On Saturday, the BYU Cougars will look to finish the season with 11 wins in the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl against the UAB Blazers. BYU is currently ranked 13th in the nation and probably deserved a better bowl. However, with the Cougars not in a Power 5 conference, that didn’t help their case at all.
Meanwhile, the UAB Blazers are 8-4 on the year after winning three of their last four games on the season. The Blazers upset UTEP at home to conclude the season, and only lost to UTSA by three points on the road prior to that UTEP win.
Does BYU have what it takes to cover the touchdown spread against UAB? Here are our picks and predictions for the UAB Blazers vs. BYU Cougars bowl game on December 18, at 3:30 pm ET.
The UAB Blazers are probably one of the more underrated teams in the nation. Not only did UAB score 29.4 points per game, but the Blazers also allowed just 22.8 points per game. The offense wasn’t all that this year, but UAB averaged 384.3 yards per game behind terrific running from Dewayne McBride.
McBride is now injured and out for the bowl game. Still, there’s a good chance that the next man up does just as well as the offensive line continues to open holes to make the run game go.
The Blazers had been one of the better defenses in the nation this year. Throughout the season, the defense was extremely consistent and didn’t really have any weaknesses. The front seven dominated in the pass rush and helped stop the run game. The coverage also did their thing. The Blazers allowed just 323.1 yards per game on the defense.
On the other hand, BYU was much better on the offensive end, scoring 33.5 points per game while allowing 24.3 points per game. The offense gained 458 yards per game with 269.8 yards in the passing game. The run game was just as good and the offensive line was always extremely consistent.
While the defense only gives up 387.1 yards per game and 24.3 points per game, there are still ways to beat them. BYU struggled a bit in the run game at times, allowing 151.6 yards per game. The Cougars also didn’t get much pressure on the quarterback and missed a solid amount of tackles this season.
Both defenses allow fewer than 400 yards per game. While BYU hasn’t been elite, they’ve been good enough to limit big plays down the field. The passing game for UAB will struggle with the solid secondary that the Cougars have.
Meanwhile, UAB’s defense has done wonders this season in every single area. The Blazers don’t even miss that many tackles and have so many strengths in the defense.
Therefore, I’ll side with the under 54.5 in the Independence Bowl.
Pick: Under 54.5 (-110)
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