After getting their first road win of the season, UAB football heads back home to face Rice on Saturday.
The Owls are not having a great season at 1-7, but we’ve already seen what can happen when you underestimate an opponent.
My first impression of Rice this year was not great as I watched them get embarrassed by Stanford in Australia to start the season.
However, they’ve played some Conference USA teams close this year. They only lost by six to FIU, 13 at UTSA and 14 to La Tech last weekend.
The Blazers open this week as a 12 point favorite at home against Rice. We’ll see if the boys can stay focused and keep their home winning streak alive.
Let’s get into the matchups:
Rice’s Offense vs. UAB’s Defense
Rice is second to last in Conference USA averaging just 13.1 points per game. They’ve been held to 12 points or less in six games.
In the one game they won this year they scored 31 points, and they put up 28 this past weekend.
They are also next to last in the conference in total yards per game at 315.6.
The Owls have a host of running backs that will carry the football. Quarterback Sam Glaesmann led Rice in carries last weekend with 13 for a team-high 68 net yards and 2 touchdowns.
Now we’ve already seen how a mobile quarterback can hurt the UAB defense, but hopefully they’ll be ready for it this time.
Rice does not pass the ball very well with just 1,187 yards on the year, and 5 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.
Aaron Cephus is their home run threat at receiver with 14 catches for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns.
UAB is fifth in the conference in rushing defense giving up 163.4 yards per game. They are coming off their best performance of the year, and they’ll need to be on their toes with another running quarterback.
I think this is a great matchup for our defense, and one where we should be able to dominate as long as we don’t relax.
UAB Offense vs. Rice Defense
UAB is somehow still fourth in the conference in scoring at 30.5 points per game despite sputtering at times.
The defense certainly helped them out against Southern Miss, but Spencer Brown had a lot to do with it as well.
Brown is now second in the conference averaging 113.6 rushing yards per game. He’s also just 91 yards away from 1,000 yards rushing on the year.
Rice is 11th in the conference against the rush giving up 190 yards per game on the ground. The Owl defense is also giving up 35 points a game and 426 total yards per game.
For all intents and purposes, this should be a great game for the UAB offense to put up some big numbers. But again, we thought that would be the case against Charlotte and it wasn’t.
I don’t think Brown gets a heavy workload this weekend unless he’s just absolutely needed. He carried the ball 33 times against Southern Miss, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets around 15 carries.
As good as Brown is, we have other running backs who are very good as well.
A.J. Erdely has been very good passing the football, and I think we seem him continue that trend on Saturday. I’m hoping we even get to see a little bit from the back-up quarterback if UAB can establish a comfortable enough lead.
Rice does have a couple of very good players on defense we need to be aware of, and that’s linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee and defense end Brian Womac.
Ellerbee leads the team with a whopping 76 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for a loss. Womac has 14 tackles for a loss and 8 sacks on the season. While the Rice defense as a whole might not be great, those two guys are a force to be reckoned with.
Still, I expect the UAB offense to have their way on Saturday.
Game Preview and Prediction
Just like the Charlotte game, I think UAB only loses this one if they beat themselves. They can’t get lazy and they can’t turn the ball over to set the other team up for easy points.
The key for our defense will be stopping the run, specifically from the quarterback.
Our offense needs to run the ball early and establish the ground game, and then let Erdely sling it around a bit.
Even though the Charlotte loss still hurts, I think having that loss will not allow this team to get down or be unprepared for this game.
I honestly don’t see UAB and Coach Clark laying another egg this year, especially at home. This should be a big win for the Blazers, their sixth of the year.
Prediction: UAB 34 Rice 10