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UAB earned their second consecutive trip to the Conference USA Championship game by beating its final three opponents in UTEP, Louisiana Tech, and North Texas. They also received some help from their opponent on Saturday.
Florida Atlantic punched its ticket by winning its last five games including victories over FIU, UTSA, and Southern Miss. Their victory over Southern Miss clinched a spot in the title game for UAB.
FAU will host UAB in the C-USA Championship game on Saturday in Boca Raton, Florida. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. EST with the contest airing on the CBS Sports Network.
UAB's defense leads their chargeUAB has relied on their defense primarily to get them to the title game. Against North Texas, the Blazers forced two turnovers in the third quarter that changed the tide of the game.
On Saturday, they'll need this opportunistic unit to have another big performance against Florida Atlantic. The Owls' offense features a pass-heavy attack led by quarterback Chris Robison. He has thrown for 3,129 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only five interceptions.
His favorite target is tight end Harrison Bryant, who snagged 61 receptions for 965 yards and six touchdowns this season. He'll be the main target for the Blazers defense to key in on, as his size 6'5" 240-pound frame and speed could present matchup problems for UAB's linebackers and safeties.
Offensively, the Blazers have struggled to mount a consistent attack all season. To win on Saturday, they'll need to establish a run game first by relying on Spencer Brown to find the gaps to make big plays. If successful, this will open passing lanes for Dylan Hopkins.
The Owls hoping to close out the season strongDespite all the headlines about whether head coach Lane Kiffin will stay or leave the Owls, FAU has the opportunity to close out the regular season with 10 wins.
To do so, their offense must find some success against UAB's stellar defense that allows only 18 points and 269 total yards per game. The greatest area of success is in the passing attack, where Robison could make big plays against a Blazers' defense that surrenders 177 passing yards per game.
It's vital to get their passing game going because running is going to be tough sledding. UAB's defense allows only 92 rushing yards per game.
The other battle to watch is on the defensive end. The Owls face a Blazers' offense that has struggled to sustain drives. UAB averages just 25 points per game, so if FAU has some offensive success early, it allows their defense to play more aggressively to dictate the tempo of the game.
Trends found on Covers.com FAU is:
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 against teams with a winning record
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games as the underdog
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
As good as UAB's defense has been, North Texas showed that a persistent air attack could yield big results. Look for Florida Atlantic to follow this blueprint. The Owls' offense is far more explosive and this becomes the deciding factor in this contest.
Prediction: FAU -7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
FAU is 7-0 in their last seven December home games. I expect this trend to continue as they face a UAB offense that's struggled to score points consistently. And they're more one-dimensional relying on their run game to shoulder most of the load. This results in a slower pace of play leading to fewer points scored.