DECEMBER 22, 2017, 12:30 PM ET | THOMAS ROBINSON STADIUM
UAB’s football program didn’t exist last year but is now heading to a bowl game for the second time in school history. As for Ohio, their head coach could use a bowl win to get the monkey off his back. Frank Solich has lost eight of his last 10 bowl games. Let’s take a closer look at the Bahamas Bowl matchup.
Blazers vs. Bobcats Spread and Betting Analysis
Ohio started out as a 7.5-point favorite but has dropped down to -7 -115. The SportsInteraction betting trends show that 55% of the action has been on Ohio. In terms of the total, the over-under opened up at 57.5 and has moved around quite a bit. It’s dropped as low as 54.5 but is now back up to 58.5. 71% of the action overall has been on the over.
Talk about coming back from the dead. UAB, who didn’t have a football program the last two seasons, is going to a bowl game. A season that was supposed to be about rekindling the football spirit and figuring out where they are has turned into an eight-win campaign with a chance to earn the school’s first ever bowl win.
UAB gets the job done on the ground as their rushing offense finished second in Conference USA. Running back Spencer Brown is the key to their success. The team is 5-1 when he runs for 100+ yards and 6-1 when he finds the end zone.
The other major key to this game will be turnovers. Ohio has been in the giving spirit this year, coughing up two or more turnovers in seven games. UAB has 13 takeaways in their last seven contests. Ohio is 0-4 when losing the turnover battle at -2 or worse but 8-0 otherwise. If UAB can force a couple of turnovers, they should be in good shape.
The Bobcats bread and butter is also on the ground. Frank Solich’s squad led the MAC in rushing offense and was particularly effective in the red zone. Quarterback Nathan Rourke finished second in the nation in rushing touchdowns
And while UAB has a similarly strong rushing game, a key edge for Ohio will be their run defense. That unit held opponents under 100 yards six times this season. The Blazers haven’t won a game this season when rushing for less than 165 (0-3).
The challenge for Ohio is to rebound from two bad losses to end the year. A typically stout defense gave up 37 to Akron and 31 to Buffalo. Neither of those teams had more than seven wins. Bowls have been a challenge for this team too, losing two straight and six of their last eight. They didn’t finish the season particularly well and they don’t have a good history in bowl games – especially under Solich. If that trend continues and they take this UAB team lightly, they’ll be in for a rude awakening. If they are focused and they avoid costly turnovers, they should win this game.