The college football bowl season is upon us. With 39 games spread out over the next two and a half weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline. Find all our picks here. All lines are as of the date of publication.
UAB (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4)
Spread: Ohio -7.5
Spread: First off, congrats to UAB for making a bowl game in their first season back after the program was eliminated in 2014. Head coach Bill Clark was named Conference USA Coach of the Year and you could make the argument he deserved to win the national award too. Regardless, he led the Blazers to an 8-4 record with a team featuring a solid offense and a lockdown pass defense. QB AJ Erdley does enough in the passing game (61.8% 2,077 yards 16 TD) to open up spaces for running back Spencer Brown (237 carries 1,292 yards 10 TD) on the ground. Erdley also tacked on 13 TDs, acting as a major red zone threat. Their veteran-laden secondary has allowed opponents to average just 188 yards per game on 51 percent completions. Redshirt senior corner Darious Williams leads the team with five interceptions while fellow corner (redshirt junior) Broderick Thomas has two. Two of the Blazers four losses this year came by a combined three points.
The Bobcats don’t throw the ball particularly effectively so if they get behind in this game, they could be in big trouble. The good news for Frank Solich’s squad is that their running game has been dominant for much of the year, averaging 43 carries and 245 yards per game. There’s a two-headed monster at running back in A.J. Ouellette and Dorian Brown, while QB Nathan Rourke also provides a run-threat as well. The trio has combined for 2,467 yards and 35 touchdowns including a stunning 21(!) by Rourke. The Blazers run defense has given up 170 yards per game on 4.5 yards per carry this season and they’ll have their hands full trying to stop this unit. However, all three of those guys are banged and of the three, only Rourke is listed as probable to play in this game. The Bobcats defense has been stingy in the ground game (111 YPG 3.1 YPC) so that will be the battle to watch in this game.
Both teams have been good ATS this year with Ohio going 8-4 and UAB going 8-3-1. Ohio is 6-3 as a favorite, while UAB is 5-2 as an underdog this year. The biggest concern for me is the Bobcats’ injuries and that has me leaning towards the Blazers. UAB +7.5
Total: In terms of over/unders, Ohio has been very good at beating the number, going 8-3-1 this season while UAB is 4-8. The Bobcats have one of the best offenses in the country averaging 38 points per game and they attack the weakness of UAB’s defense. But, with the focus on the running game from both teams, the under seems the safer play. Under 58.5