Before the season we mapped out UAB’s path to a bowl game, but now that the season has started and expectations have shifted for a lot of teams, we’ll re-evaluate that path.
A lot of people who had UAB going to a bowl game this year had the Blazers going 3-1 in their first four games. That obviously didn’t happen, so the Blazers are going to have to find another win somewhere.
Let me put this disclaimer out there, a bowl game is just the start for this team. I think they are capable of winning every game they play this year, and are ready to compete for a Conference USA Championship.
But first things first, let’s get to a bowl game.
In our preseason article I had UAB beating Ball State on the road but losing to North Texas, so I was 50 percent there.
We’ll categorize these by must-wins, not likely and toss-ups.
There are three games left on the schedule that UAB can’t afford to lose. Those include Rice, UTEP and Charlotte. Those three teams are a combined 1-14 on the season right now, and UTEP is in the middle of a coaching change.
The Blazers get Rice and UTEP at home, so those are definite must-wins. But even facing a Charlotte team on the road should be a win for UAB.
If they don’t win all three of these games then I don’t see how we make a bowl game. We’ll most likely be favored in all of those games, and can’t let them get away from us.
Just with these three games, that would give us five wins on the season. There is a chance UAB could make a bowl game with just five wins, but let’s not leave anything up to chance. There is a sixth win out there for the Blazers.
As I said, I think UAB is capable of competing and winning every game they play in this year, but there are two teams on the schedule that I would be shocked if the Blazers pull the upset against, and that’s UTSA and Florida.
UTSA has looked pretty good in their three wins, including a win over a Big 12 school in Baylor. We’ll know a lot more about this team in the next two weeks as they play Southern Miss and North Texas, but at this point I don’t see UAB winning that game on the road.
Florida is not a great team at all, but it’s still hard to compete with all of that talent — in The Swamp no less. I already have my tickets to go to this game, so I really hope UAB pulls off the upset, but I’m not banking on it happening.
That leaves three toss-up games on the schedule, and UAB has to find a way to win one of them. They all take place in the month of October as well.
The first comes this weekend against La Tech. I would have never considered this a toss-up game to begin the season, but I haven’t been overly impressed with La Tech’s wins, and I think UAB is good enough to at least stay in this game and give themselves a chance at the end.
The same can be said for Middle Tennessee at home the following week. I had chalked this one up as a definite loss at the start of the season, but after MTSU was blasted by FAU, I don’t see why UAB can’t do the same thing. The Blue Raiders do have a nice win on the road against Syracuse, but have encountered some big injuries on offense — specifically at running back.
If UAB can’t win one of those games at home, then it will come down to a road game in Hattiesburg, Miss. At the end of the month the Blazers will travel to take on a Southern Miss team that was just steamrolled at home by North Texas.
The Golden Eagles will travel to play La Tech the week before their matchup with UAB, so we’ll have a better idea of how well we matchup with them by then. Southern Miss will most likely be favored in that one because it’s in Hattiesburg, but I think it’s a very winnable game for UAB.
As you can see, I think the Blazers get to five wins rather easily. In fact, at this point I would be pretty disappointed if we don’t win at lest five games. But getting that sixth win won’t be quite as easy. Hopefully UAB comes out and takes care of business against La Tech this weekend. If that happens then we’re talking about Conference USA Championship games and not just a bowl game.