gtpdd’s UAB Preview

Tomorrow night at 6:00 PM Central, the Bulldogs return home to fight off the Blazers of UAB. But before you watch the game, you need to know a few things. That’s where we come in!

How to Watch

The game tomorrow night is being broadcast by Stadium. Don’t have Stadium in your cable package? No worries, they’re also streaming the game for free on Facebook! That’s right, no 7-day free trials this week!

Other People’s Predictions

  • ESPN FPI: Tech has a 76.3% chance to win.
  • Massey: Tech wins, 34-24
  • Vegas (OddsShark): Tech wins by 9.5 points
  • BleedTechBlue: Tech wins, 27-20
  • S&P+: UAB wins, 31-30
  • Underdog Dynasty: Tech wins, 31-28

What to Watch for

Evan: I think this game will hinge on just how good UAB’s pass defense actually is. The Blazers are 3rd in FBS, allowing only 143 passing yards per game through four weeks. Despite that impressive statistic, I’m not so sure UAB has it in them to shut down Hardy, Bonnette, and J’Mar. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I’m not concerned at all about UAB’s celebrated pass defense. Here’s why. Below is a list of UAB’s opponents and their passing averages through week 5 of college football. Stop me when you’re impressed:

Team Passing YPG Rank Passing Yards vs. UAB
Savannah State 90.0 121st (out of 124 FCS) 23
Coastal Carolina 175.6 110th 167
Tulane 197.0 99th 180
Charlotte 210.8 84th 202
Louisiana Tech 299.0 21st ???

Was it Tech that impressed you? Let’s be real for a second. UAB’s defensive stats are so good because they’ve played awful teams all year. “But Evan, they’re holding all their opponents to below their season average!”–you, maybe. Okay fine, they’re holding opponents to 94% of their usual output through the air. If Tech were to get 94% of their passing offense tomorrow night, we’d have 281 yards, nearly double UAB’s pass defense average. Also, a fun fact about Savannah State’s passing stats–the Tigers have only completed 27 passes this season. They’re completing 34% of their throws. With Savannah State’s stat line contributing to their defensive numbers, it’s no wonder UAB looks so good. I’m excited to see the Bulldogs introduce the Blazers to a real passing attack.

Random Factoid

Evan: When it comes to Homecoming traditions, some schools have parades, some schools have dances. UAB has the truly wacky tradition known as the Gurney Derby. Each year since 1994, UAB’s National Alumni Society puts on a race down 13th Street in Birmingham. Teams of four have to push a decorated hospital bed and inanimate rider up a hill and compete to win. Prizes are awarded to the winners and runners up, as well as for the best decorations and the most creative passenger. Shout out to my grad school friend Taylor, who went to UAB and told me about this goofy race. Let’s take a look!

Here’s the winner of the 2016 Gurney Derby’s “Best Dressed” category:

Here is video evidence of the 2011 Gurney Derby, which featured back-to-back winners from the School of Dentistry, “Mixed Dentition.”

[vimeo 31557780 w=640 h=360] 2011 Gurney Derby from uabnews on Vimeo.

Guys, when I say that UAB takes this pretty seriously, I’m not kidding. In 2014, NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson waved a green flag to start the racing up 13th Street.

In Homecoming games since this tradition was instituted in 1994, UAB is 16-6. That includes last year’s game against Tech. That’s pretty good, but luckily for Tech, this isn’t UAB’s homecoming game. There will be no gurneys racing up and down Tech Drive. The Blazers will have to win without their bizarre traditions to prop them up.

Hot Taeks

Evan: Amik will score a touchdown tomorrow night.

Josh: Ferg will have a scoop and score after a sack.

Nathan: I’m going to double down on the concern I raised in the post I wrote for BTB: Tech will give up a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Final Predictions

Evan: UAB is going to run the ball sort of effectively against the Dogs. The question is, in throwing situations, can they have any success? I think the answer to that question is ultimately no. The game last year was hideous from Tech’s perspective. Jonathan Barnes missed several chip shots–including two extra points–that would’ve sealed the game for Tech before UAB ever blocked the final attempt (read more about that here). Tech was penalized 10 times for 95 yards. In all of Tech’s other 2017 games, they averaged 4.25 penalties for 36 yards per game. Something wasn’t right last year at Legion Field. Am I saying #CUAB? No, not necessarily. What I’m saying is that this year’s team is even more disciplined, AND the game’s at home.

Tech wins, 30-17

Josh: Let me be honest with you . There is no team I want to beat more in every sport, every year than UAB. I get that Southern Miss is our main rival, but ever since joining C-USA, beating UAB has always been the most fun. Now, Skip says the team has had this game circled on their calendar all year and I think they’ll come out with some fight immediately. I expect another chippy game, but hopefully the Bulldogs stay within reason and don’t get hit with too many penalties. I think the defense is going to continue to improve and the offense will be much better than it was against North Texas. The Bulldogs are going to treat this as a revenge game and not sleepwalk through it.

Tech wins, 34-20

Nathan: Every year, Tech has a baffling conference loss™ that makes us scratch our heads. 2014: Old Dominion. 2015: Southern Miss. 2016: Southern Miss (again). 2017: UAB. I predict the Blazers to somehow shock the Bulldogs and escape Ruston with a win.

The Dragons Blazers makes their money running the ball, both with the RB and the QB. And for a team that has seemed to have issues tackling (*cough cough* Tech), that’s not good news. Add in the weather report (it gon’ rain) and I can see a path to the W for the Blazers. Especially with Jaqwis Dancy, Tech’s best runner, off the depth chart.

By no means do I think UAB is a better team. But the better team isn’t always the victor.

UAB wins, 28-27


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