Enough 'Blaze' For UAB To Cover Against Ohio in Bahamas Bowl

Bahamas Bowl

Rainman M.

Saturday, December 9, 2017 7:31 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 7:31 PM UTC

Ohio (8-4) plays UAB (8-4) Friday, December 22 at 12:30 ET in Nassau, Bahamas. Ohio is favored by 7.5.

UAB Blazers vs Ohio Bobcats

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3375144, "sportsbooksIds":[169,93,1096,180,139], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Free NCAAF Pick: UAB +7.5Best Line Offered: at Heritage

Spencer Brown leads UAB's run-first offense that ranks 28th in run-play percentage. He has over 4 times as many carries as the next UAB running back and is the only Blazer who averages more than 5 yards per carry with over 50 carries. The Blazers' ability to run the ball with Brown is decisive because in 3 out of their 4 non-covers UAB has run for fewer than 200 yards. In 3 out of their 4 losses Brown ran for fewer than 75 yards.

Brown can excel against an Ohio defense that ranks 27th in opposing yards per carry. The Bobcats' run defense is overrated because of the poor rushing attacks that they have faced. 9 of the 12 opponents that Ohio has faced rank outside the top 70 in yards per carry. UAB ranks 51st in the category and boasts success against highly-ranked rushing attacks such as that of MTSU (21st in opposing YPC) and Southern Mississippi (30th in opposing yards per carry).

A.J. Erdely, UAB's dual-threat quarterback who is second on the team with 289 rush yards, doesn't normally throw for more than 200 yards and therefore may not look like the quarterback to exploit an Ohio pass defense that ranks 74th in opposing quarterback rating, but neither did Akron's freshman dual-threat quarterback Kato Nelson, who easily had his best game, with 322 yards and 4 touchdowns, against Ohio. Erdeley has produced over 300 passing yards against North Texas's similarly ranked pass defense and over 200 against Southern Miss's 25th-ranked pass defense. Erdeley is an efficient quarterback with a 16:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and, supported by his own running ability as well as Brown, can exploit Ohio's abysmal pass defense.

Run defense is UABs' weakness. The Blazers rank 80th in opposing yards per carry. However, the Bobcats could miss their top running back, A.J. Ouellette, due to injury. Ouellette leads Ohio with 980 rush yards. Ouellette's backup is likewise formidable but also listed as 'questionable.'

The health issues of Ohio's running backs could further strain quarterback Nathan Rourke. Rourke struggles with accuracy, averaging 54% completion and producing a 15:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His inaccuracy is worrisome against UAB's twelfth-ranked pass defense in terms of opposing passer rating.

Rourke, despite being a dual-threat quarterback, will not present UAB with any kinds of challenges that they have not dealt with before. UAB is 4-1 ATS this season against dual-threat quarterbacks, including upset wins against Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and UT-San Antonio.

A final area of advantage for UAB is the red zone. Ohio's red zone defense ranks 115th, while UAB's ranks 29th, while their respective red zone offenses are nearly equally successful. UAB's ability to force Ohio to settle for field goals can be crucial for covering the spread.

The Verdict

UAB can score behind Spencer Brown, who will attack Ohio's overrated rush defense, and A.J. Erdely, who can exploit Ohio's abysmal secondary, which has played the biggest role in its two consecutive defeats as favorite to conclude Ohio's regular season. Ohio possesses neither an equally reliable quarterback in Rourke nor a healthy or strong enough running game to secure the cover on our NCAAF Picks.

comment here