Bahamas Bowl -UAB vs. Ohio (-7.5, 55.5)
Location and Weather
As of right now the weather looks clear with little wind so we won't see the offenses impacted in this game.
Sun Belt vs. the MAC. The Sun Belt is actually 4-0 the last two years in bowl games against the MAC. Troy beat Ohio last year while App State beat Toledo and there have been some pretty good games between these two conferences. The Sun Belt is actually 20-16 since 2010 vs. the MAC. The MAC of course is a conference that gets more media attention during the season with their MACTION games, but overall I think the Sun Belt is better with players from the south.
Coaching & Motivation: UAB took two years off and they are in a bowl game? Bill Clark has done an amazing job here and is set to retire. This will be his last game, and I can't see any reason why these players wouldn't be excited to win another game for him.
Ohio's Frank Solich is a classy veteran and he's done great things at Ohio, but this team lost two games to end the year against Akron & Buffalo as favorites. Solich is 2-8 in bowl games dating back to Nebraska. They have lost the last two years in bowl games against the Sun Belt, but are 7.5 point favorites? This line is a bit peculiar to me, but looking at the hidden stats, which we will get to a bit later I understand why.
X's & O's
I am a bit surprised by how high this spread is. UAB did have the 130th ranked strength of schedule, but Ohio was not far behind at #96. Either way the play in the trenches in adjusted line yards was better for UAB on both sides with a rank of 35/44 on the OL/DL vs. 60/79 for Ohio. Ohio does have some nice edges in special teams ranking 69th vs. UAB's 129th ranking, but that's about it.
UAB's offense is pretty much all about the run. They run the ball about 60% of the time, and they rank 37th in rushing yards per game, but 106th in passing yards. They will be challenged by an Ohio defense whose strengths fit their strengths. Ohio's defense ranks 11th vs. the run, but have a glaring weakness against the pass ranking 110th. It will be interesting to see if UAB puts a game plan together to attack that weakness or if they are stubborn in running the ball. I'll be going back to look at each game to see what kind of strategy Bill Clark had in similar games.
Ohio's offense is very similar to UAB in the fact that they rank 95th passing the ball, and they rank 17th running the ball. Clearly a one dimensional attack and they rank 27th in rushing play % with 61% runs just 1 spot ahead of UAB. So from a game plan perspective these two teams are identical on offense. Ohio has an edge as UAB'S defensive strength is against the pass ranking 22nd in yards allowed, but 73rd against the run and they rank 81st allowing 4.7 ypc. Again, I'll have to look back at strength of schedule and the types of teams these two have played all year. A brief lean towards UAB, and I thought there would be an opportunity to take them on the moneyline, but after looking at the match-up it fits Ohio's strengths much better.