On Tuesday night, the UAB Blazers will face off against the Northern Illinois Huskies in the Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Florida. UAB has had an excellent year, going 10-3 and winning the CUSA title. Northern Illinois went 8-5 and shocked the 10-win Buffalo Bulls in the MAC title game.
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UAB Running Game Looks Strong
In the Conference USA Championship game against Middle Tennessee, UAB got it done with the running game. Quarterback Tyler Johnston III went just 9 for 15 for 140 yards and one touchdown as well as one interception. Running back Spencer Brown ran the ball 31 times for 156 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Johnston also added 56 yards on the ground on 17 carries and scored a rushing touchdown. Seven different receivers caught a pass for the Blazers. However, no receiver had more than two catches. Kailin Carter caught one pass for 43 yards and Andre Wilson caught one single pass for 40 yards.
In the MAC title game, Northern Illinois trailed 29-10 late in the third quarter. They went on to score three unanswered touchdowns with the go-ahead score coming with 1 minute and 9 seconds left in the game. Quarterback Marcus Childers had a monster game, going 21 for 33 for 300 yards and four touchdowns versus just one interception. Childers was also the leading rusher for the Huskies, turning 15 carries into 58 yards. Running back Tre Harbison only ran the ball 11 times for 35 yards due to the Huskies being in comeback mode for most of the game.
Northern Illinois Trying to Score More Often
UAB quarterback Tyler Johnston III has taken over the starting job with original starter AJ Ederly going down with a shoulder injury. Johnston has started 4 games this season, throwing 7 touchdowns as well as 7 interceptions in those starts. Running back Spencer Brown has compiled 1149 yards on 247 carries to go along with 16 touchdowns and has been the key piece for this Blazers offense. UAB averages 192 yards a game passing the ball and 209 yards on the ground each game. The defense has been solid as well, allowing just 17 points a game and 301 yards a game.
Northern Illinois has struggled to score points all season long as they are averaging just 21 points a game. They have had more success scoring touchdowns through the air, with Childers throwing for 15 touchdowns. Starting running back Harbison has only gotten into the end zone 4 times all year. The Huskies only average 325 yards a game, 154 passing and 172 rushing. The defense has helped pick up the slack a little but has been mainly average this season. They allow 21.5 points a game and 348 total yards a game. They are allowing 238 yards passing each game and 110 yards rushing per game. The run defense will be the key for the Huskies defense, as they will need to stop Brown to have a chance in this game.
Blazers vs. Huskies Prediction
UAB comes into the game -2.5. The Blazers have had an incredible season and have been successful even with their backup quarterback. The running game has been dominant each and every game. The Huskies have struggled on offense and will lean on their defense in this game. UAB should be able to roll on offense in this one as they have all season long even though Northern Illinois has a solid defense. The Blazers should have no problem stopping a subpar Husky offense and should win the game by at least a touchdown. Take UAB -2.5.
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