UAB – 2.5 (o/u 42.5) vs. Northern Illinois
UAB enters this game having lost 2 of its last 3 games to end the season at 10-3. They did manage to win Conference USA championship game 27-25 over Middle Tenn. St., avenging a disappointing 27-3 loss the week before. Without a doubt, the Blazers made their bones on defense. On the season, they finished 10th in the NCAA for scoring defense, allowing a scant 17.3 PPG. On the other side of the ball, the Blazers played conservative ball, relying heavily on an efficient attack that rendered 29.3 PPG on only 400.1 YPG of total offense (130th in the nation).
Northern Illinois comes into this contest having also lost 2 of its last 3 games, winning the MAC conference title game with a 30-29 upset over Buffalo to move to 8-5 on the season. In recent years, the Huskies were known for moving the ball in big chunks through the air. This season, they had all kinds of trouble moving the ball either way, finishing the season ranked 240th in the nation for total offense (325 YPG) and a dismal 259th in the nation for passing with just over 153 YPG. While the offense toiled game after game, it was a solid defense (21.5 PPG) that kept the Blazers close enough to win 4 games by a field goal or less.
From a handicapping perspective, it’s notable that the Huskies struggled outside of the MAC with a record of 1-3 while UAB went 2-2 against an easier non-conference schedule. In a close, low scoring matchup, the best player on the field usually rules the day. That would be Blazers’ RB Spencer Brown who rushed for 1,191 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Prediction: Both these teams figure to play conservative on offense and rely on the defense for field position. That screams under. Play under 42.5