Dogs Barking: UAB Blazers vs. Miami Hurricanes Pick
UAB Blazers (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Miami Hurricanes (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date and Time: Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 8PM EDT
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
TV: ACC Network
Point Spread: UAB +14/MIA -14 (Bovada - Best Live Betting Platform + 50% Bonus!)
Over/Under Total: 48.5
The UAB Blazers come to Hard Rock Stadium for a week two matchup with the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday night. This marks the season debut for the’ Canes, while UAB managed to emerge from week one victorious. A 45-35 win over Central Arkansas gave the Blazers their conference record 19th straight home win, but they didn’t cover the spread and get the separation on Central Arkansas as some suspected. It gets a lot tougher this week with a road game against an ACC team in the Hurricanes.
Blazers First Impressions
With a Conference-USA team such as the Blazers, one shouldn’t read too much into a week one game against an FCS opponent that was probably closer than it should have been. One should expect their fire to be a bit more lit for this higher-stakes matchup. On offense, all their significant playmakers are back—quarterback Tyler Johnson, III, running backs Spencer Brown, Lucious Stanley, and Jermaine Brown, Jr., along with receivers Austin Watkins, Myron Mitchell, and Hayden Pittman. All were key last season, and they return this year, having all gotten good production in week one. That three-back attack is really tough, and they could make life hard even on Miami.
On defense, UAB returns a nice 1-2 pass-rushing tandem in Kristopher Moll and Jordan Smith, but in week one, it was Nikia Eason, Jr. who delivered with a pair of sacks. Giving up 35 points to a Southland Conference team might not paint this “D” in the best light heading into week two, but one of those TDs was a defensive score for Central Arkansas. And while a 19-game home winning streak is nice, there has been a definite issue with road games, where we see this defense’s form typically slip a bit away from Birmingham. To what extent will we see that on Thursday? Still, make no mistake, this was a good defense last season, really tough against both the pass and the run, with a definite disruptive streak. With a bulk of those guys back, this side of the ball should get better over the upcoming weeks.
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What to Look for with the ‘Canes
The Miami faithful are patiently awaiting a return to glory, and it still seems elusive following a 6-7 season where they sagged hard at the finish with a gross 14-0 bowl loss to Louisiana Tech. But there were some good signs, highlighted by a win over ranked Virginia. Still, that’s small potatoes for a once-glorious program. In Manny Diaz’s second season at the helm, a surge would be nice. And there are sources for optimism.
D’Eriq King takes over at quarterback after excelling in spots during his time behind center for the Houston Cougars. Over three years of starting at QB, he showed himself to be a top of the line dual-threat guy. He can run the heck out of the ball, and his 50-10 touchdown-to-INT ratio attests to a certain aerial capability. With a new coordinator and a spread offense in place, Diaz and the ‘Canes are looking for a significant upgrade on this side of the ball.
With more space on offense, look for the newfound variety of Miami’s run-game to pay off, especially in a spot like this. Last season offered a glimpse of what we should see from Cam’Ron Harris. With King’s legs, defenses will have a harder time finding their bearings than they did against a sometimes-predictable 2019 Miami offense. Aerially, some new guys will need to step up, but Miami returns a rising tight end in Brevin Jordan to help mitigate the departure of top receiver KJ Osborn.
Miami’s biggest attribute in this prolonged period of offensive mediocrity has been their defense. Even when the offense isn’t sharing in the load-carrying, the defense has done well in recent years, and we saw it last season with an average of just over 20 points allowed on average. Their secondary is usually one of the best parts of the team, and we saw that in ’19 with only 186 yards allowed on average per game—not bad with the schedule they played.
Miami as Big Favorites?
I can understand the psychology behind the point-spread, a big-name program like Miami against a team whose program had been scrapped until a few years ago. But UAB might be the class of Conference-USA, and it’s not like Miami thrives against mid-majors lately, barely scraping by Central Michigan last season, before losing in embarrassing fashion later in the season to FAU. And in their previous game, against a team from the same conference as UAB, they didn’t even hit the scoreboard.
We see what appears to be an upgrade at QB for the ‘Canes, but with limited time to prepare in a truncated preseason, how sure are we that an offense that has struggled for years will hit the ground running? Granted, UAB is on the road and in an elevated context, but they’re still a pretty complete unit that has no glaring weakness that a Miami offense would appear to be able to feast on.
Take the Points on the Blazers
If you’re old enough, everything you’ve been conditioned to know about college ball tells you Miami is a lot better than UAB. And I think that the point-spread is playing off that a little bit. Not that there is anything terribly rosy about the prospects of a Conference-USA team taking to the road against an ACC team on the surface, but I think the Blazers match up well enough with the Hurricanes to keep this one respectable. Between their defense and steady running of the ball, I see them keeping this one in the ballpark. I’ll take Alabama-Birmingham and the points.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the UAB Blazers plus 14 points. Want more free bets? Deposit $150 and get $150 FREE at Intertops Sportsbook! You must use bonus code 20NFL150 and sign up through this special link to get the credit to your wagering account!
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