Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (3-1, 0-2 ATS) at UAB Blazers (1-3, 1-2 ATS) Thursday October 1st 8:00PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Southern Miss -10.5/UAB +10.5
The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles take to the road this Thursday night to take on the University of Alabama-Birmingham in a Conference USA highlighted match-up. The Souther Miss Golden Eagles are off to a fast start at 3-1 with some quality wins over Virginia and Central Florida. However, the Golden Eagles are coming off their first loss of the season by way of the Kansas Jayhawks 35-28. The Golden Eagles proved in that match-up that they have a solid football team and now they turn their focus to trying and perhaps capture a Conference USA crown.
UAB captured a win in their first game of the season in a 44-24 victory over Rice. However, the Blazers have since dropped 3 straight games including a blowout loss last week to Texas A&M 56-19. In the Blazers 3 losses, the defense has allowed opponents to average 350 yards of passing and over 500 total yards. The defense has to play better this Thursday night as the Golden Eagles spread the ball out very well.
The Blazers must find some solutions as they have not only struggled on defense, but also on the offensive side of the ball. If things are not to change, the Blazers will again fall short of capturing a victory over the Golden Eagles. This is for the most majority the same defense that gave up over 600 yards last year to Southern Mississippi in route to an embarrassing 56 point loss. The Golden Eagles racked up an amazing 463 yards on the ground while setting a school record 9 touchdowns in that meeting.
Southern Mississippi has won all 9 meetings in the history between the two schools including in that overwhelming blowout last year 70-14. The Golden Eagles passing game could be in store for a big day against the Blazers secondary. QB Austin Davis is completing 68% on the season for 931 yards. Davis has thrown just 1 interception compared to an impressive 8 touchdowns thus far this year.
As stated before, the Golden Eagles passing game spreads the ball around well. Southern Mississippi sports 5 different receivers that have over 10 catches and 100 yards of receiving this far early in the season meaning every player of the Blazers secondary must be up to the challenge. Also, running back Damian Fletcher moves the ball well on the ground averaging 5 yards per carry and has 4 touchdowns on the season. Fletcher could be in for another big day if the Golden Eagles are to have any type of similar success as they did against UAB in 2008 on the ground. Fletcher will be a huge factor, but the Golden Eagles will also throw the ball a bit more this time around.
The Blazers offense has had their ups and downs. QB Joe Webb is a dual threat quarterback that makes more plays with his legs than his proven with his arm. Webb leads the team in rushing with 432 yards on the season and averaging 6.2 yards per carry. The Blazers quarterback also had 4 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 5 more thrown through the air. However, the passing game has not been as consistent. Webb has thrown 5 interceptions to the 5 touchdowns this year and is just completing over 50% on the year.
Outside of Webb, the team really lacks big time playmakers. Backup QB David Isabelle is second on the team in rushing with 168 yards. The Blazers running back Justin Brooks has failed to reach 100 yards on the season and is perhaps more of a decoy than a true threat. Also, the Blazers have just two receivers over 100 yards this season. Frantrell Forrest and Jeffery Anderson both have 11 catches and own all the touchdowns for the Blazers passing game. UAB still is searching for some other players to step up to add a bigger threat on the outside. Expect to see a lot of Webb with the ball, and hopefully they will also be able to get some more players involved to avoid being embarrassed like last year’s meeting.
Jay’s Pick: UAB just does not have the firepower to keep up here, and their defense gives the Golden Eagles chance to put up big numbers. Take Southern Mississippi.