Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (3-2, 1-0) at UAB Blazer (2-2, 0-1)
Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
When: 3:00 P.M. CT
Line: LT -11, O/U 65.5
History: La Tech leads series 5-0
It’s homecoming week in Birmingham and UAB may be heading into their toughest conference opponent this season.
UAB is coming off of a much-needed bye week last weekend. Two weeks ago, the Blazers fell to the red-hot North Texas Mean Green by three points and are looking to pull the upset on homecoming. Louisiana Tech comes into the matchup off of a win over South Alabama by a score of 30-16.
This Saturday, UAB will be wearing special uniforms in honor of Children’s Harbor Family Center. Children’s Harbor is a non-profit organization that provides support services and free counseling to children with chronic illnesses and their families after hospitalization. The Blazers won’t just be wearing the green and gold, the players will have a child’s name, in honor or memory, on the back of each homecoming jersey.
UAB head coach Bill Clark added Children’s Harbor as the team’s community charity in 2016 and the Blazers decided to take the partnership one step further.
If you would like to donate to Children’s Harbor, here is a link to their website. https://fundraise.childrensharbor.com/checkout/donation?eid=147192
Quarterback J’Mar Smith has a poise far beyond his sophomore label. Two weeks ago, in the loss to South Carolina, Smith completed 69% of his passes (season best) and threw 281 yards and one touchdown. Last week, Smith threw for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns, both season highs for the sophomore. His performance is even more impressive considering the Bulldogs have played eight different starters on the offensive line this season.
The Bulldogs lost starting slot receiver Alfred Smith early on this season and moved redshirt junior, Teddy Veal over to the slot position. This has worked well for Tech since Veal now leads the Bulldogs in receiving with 331 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Bulldogs are led in tackles by junior Brandon Durman, who has 30 total this season.
This is a sneaky game for the Bulldogs who have one of the easier conference schedules with Southern Miss, UNT, and UTSA all at home. The line has shifted from an opening 13-point favorite to 11. The last time Tech played in Birmingham, running back Kenneth Dixon was all over the Blazers scoring three touchdowns in a 40-24 victory.
As a Blazer fan, the team has been frustrating to watch because both losses were potentially winnable. Special team’s mistakes have plagued the Blazers this season, but Blazer fans finally got to see quarterback A.J. Erdely’s passing potential. Erdely threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns at UNT. Erdely adds a mobile quarterback to the offense with five touchdowns on the ground this season.
Freshman running back Spencer Brown adds a hard-nosed running style with 294 yards and four touchdowns this season. The Blazers have also received valuable minutes from running backs Carlos Stephens and James Noble III. Receivers Andre Wilson and Collin Lisa both had career-high games against UNT and both have over 200 yards receiving this season. On defense, UAB has been led by linebacker Tevin Crews who has 35 total tackles and one interception.
UAB hasn’t lost at home yet this season and a win would give UAB a very favorable path to a bowl with Charlotte, Rice, and UTEP still on the schedule. UAB has shown that they can rely on the passing game after their last game, but the Blazers will need to keep La Tech on their toes with a good balance on offense.
UAB will have to stop beating themselves. Louisiana Tech has committed the fewest penalties in the conference (17), while UAB is the fourth worst (29). Statistically speaking, this should be a close game since these two teams are similar on paper. However, Tech is strong in all three phases of the game and UAB still needs improvement.
Final: Louisiana Tech 35- UAB 27