|Date of game: 11/1/2014
UAB (4-4) at Florida Atlantic (3-5) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Stadium (30,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: Sinclair. Home Record: UAB 3-1, FAU 3-0. Away Record: UAB 0-5, FAU 1-1. Neutral Record: UAB 0-0, FAU 0-0. Conference Record: UAB 2-2, FAU 2-2. Series Record: FAU leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: Following a loss to Conference USA leader Marshall, the Florida Atlantic Owls will try and get back in the win column as they host the UAB Blazers in a conference clash at FAU Stadium Saturday.
UAB, following back-to-back wins early in October, has dropped consecutive contests to Middle Tennessee and most recently, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Blazers handedly, 45-17, last weekend.
FAU has dropped two of its last three games, including the 35-16 loss at the hands of the Thundering Herd over the weekend. The Owls have yet to win consecutive games this season, and are a dismal 0-5 in road contests. Thankfully for them, they'll be playing in the friendly confines of FAU Stadium this Saturday.
The all-time series between the Blazers and the Owls doesn't run particularly deep, considering these two programs are relatively new conference rivals. But FAU holds the early 4-1 lead in the series, and has won the last three contests in a row. UAB's only victory in the series came back in 2009.
Last Saturday's contest against the Razorbacks of the SEC was the final non- conference matchup for the Blazers this season, and it didn't go well. One of the more mediocre teams in the nation's best football conference was way too much for the Blazers, who managed just 17 points and allowed 35 to Arkansas by halftime. The passing game certainly wasn't working for UAB, but the run game wasn't a total dud. Tailback Jordan Howard dashed for 90 yards, while the Blazers as a whole rushed for 133 yards on the ground.
UAB's rushing attack is averaging just over 200 ypg this season, and has scored 19 rushing touchdowns in eight contests. Howard leads the charge, having racked up 842 yards on 170 carries, with a team high-tying seven touchdowns. He averages 105.2 rushing ypg - the best average on the team. D.J. Vinson also has seven rushing scores, and 475 yards this season. The ground attack has helped the Blazers to average 35 ppg and 442.5 offensive ypg.
Regular starting quarterback Cody Clements didn't play against Arkansas last weekend due to injury, but leading up to UAB's game against Middle Tennessee a few weeks ago, Clements was ranked fourth in the nation in completion percentage (slightly better than 70 percent). If he can go this weekend, that will be a game-changer in the team's offense. Jeremiah Briscoe got the start against Arkansas and passed for 62 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the loss.
The UAB defense has been the definition of inconsistent this season. The Blazers opened the season with a 48-10 win over Sun Belt foe Troy, then gave up 47 points to now No. 1-ranked Mississippi State. Then the next week the defense held Alabama A&M to 14 points, and allowed 34 to FIU. In the team's last two games, UAB had surrendered a combined 79 points, and is now averaging 30.5 ppg allowed to opponents this season.
Jake Ganus leads the team in tackles, but has a surprisingly low total (44) through eight games played. But Ganus has proved himself by being a disrupter in an opponents' backfield, having registered 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks so far. The only player on the team with more sacks is Diaheem Watkins, who has five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. With just six interceptions and five fumble recoveries, the Blazers are in a tie for 72nd in the nation in turnovers gained with 11.
For the second straight week, Marshall gave up the first points of the game, this time on an FAU 30-yard field goal. For the first time all season, the Thundering Herd allowed an opponent to lead at halftime. FAU went into the locker room with a 16-14 advantage over the Herd, but Marshall came out in the second half and blew the doors off its opponent, just like the team did to FIU a week earlier. The Owls showed that they possess a strong run game, gaining 209 yards against one of the best defenses in the conference.
Surprisingly it was Greg Howell who got the bulk of the work against Marshall, carrying the ball 22 times for 92 yards to lead the team. Dual-threat quarterback Jaquez Johnson added 61 yards on 16 carries. The Owls are averaging 160.8 rushing ypg, typically led by Jay Warren's 441 yards. But the sophomore back only carried the ball twice last weekend, surrendering his typical workload to Howell, who has 210 yards on the year.
Johnson is the focal point of the offense. The redshirt junior from Mississippi has passed for 11 touchdowns against just one interception this season, and has a team-high five touchdown runs on 80 carries. He averages 214.6 passing and 48.3 rushing ypg, and has helped his team average 23.5 ppg. That number should increase after playing a UAB defense that allows plenty of points to opponents, especially in the last few weeks. Johnson's ball security plus UAB's lack of turnovers forced is a good sign for the Owls.
Defensively, FAU has been pretty poor this season, which has been the cause of some of FAU's losses. In four consecutive weeks leading up to this contest with UAB, the Owls have allowed at least 35 points to opponents. In fact, the Owls have only held opponents to under 30 points twice all season long.
UAB has only recorded 11 turnovers gained this season, but FAU is worse, having only registered 10 turnovers. Linebacker Andrae Kirk has a team-high 62 tackles, and Damian Parms is close behind with 61 stops. Trey Hendrickson has recorded team-bests in both tackles for loss (eight) and sacks (four) this season, while Kirk is the only player to have registered multiple interceptions (two).
Considering each team in this contest has a defense that can't seem to stay consistent, it's a safe bet to think this game will be very offense-driven, but not necessarily mistake free. Whichever team can come up with a turnover or two will have the advantage, and that should be the home squad, which is fighting to stay alive in the conference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida Atlantic 30, UAB 25Game Date and Time
Saturday, November 1, 7 p.m. (ET)