The 2017 edition of the Bahamas Bowl pits the UAB Blazers against the Ohio Bobcats. It’s quite the accomplishment for UAB, as they return to a bowl for the first time since the 2004 Hawaii Bowl. Note that the Blazers’ football program closed up shop after the 2014-15 year. This was their first year playing since that hiatus. Nobody expected them to get back to a bowl right away. They’re playing better football than they were before the program was shuddered. UAB was rewarded with a trip to the Bahamas for the Bahamas Bowl. From no football program at all to 8-4 and a bowl game. Not too shabby.
Ohio has been to three bowls since 2013, all resulting in losses. Bowl games haven’t been the kindest to Ohio. They’ve been to ten bowls since 1962 and have gone just 2-8. Their latest loss came against Troy in the Dollar General Bowl. They had a 45-14 win against LA-Monroe in the Independence Bowl for their last bowl victory. Ohio had a good year, but an upset loss to Akron did them in. They finished the year with another loss to Buffalo, 31-24. They were on a four-game winning streak, including a win over the potent Toledo Rockets, but they had a huge letdown against Akron and packed it in.
UAB finished the year with a 28-7 win over UTEP. UTEP are absolutely horrendous, so don’t look too far into that win. Regardless of who they beat this season, UAB is feeling great after that regular season. It would put a cherry on top if they win a bowl game as well. I don’t feel like motivation is going to be a problem for UAB. They’re going to be jacked up and excited to be here no doubt. Ohio must shake off the final two losses in the regular season to gear up for this bowl game. When it comes to the Bahamas Bowl, it’s often a case of who can avoid less distractions. It’d be pretty easy to treat this like a vacation rather than going to play football. Head below for our free UAB vs. Ohio pick.
UAB Blazers vs. Ohio Bobcats Betting Odds:
vs. Ohio -7(-105)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
UAB vs. Ohio Pick:
There was certainly some concern that it would take years to rebuild the UAB football program. It would be a fair assessment. Quarterback A.J. Erdely jumped to UAB after he discovered football was coming back. He sat on the bench for a couple of years at Middle Tennessee and see the Blazers as an opportunity to be a starter. He’s done just about as good of a job as you could imagine from a guy with no starting experience going to a team who hadn’t played in a few years.
Erdely has thrown for 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He’s especially dangerous on the ground, where he’s galloped for 295 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing. Spencer Brown has been a great contributor as well. He’s rushed for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns. UAB are 2nd in the C-USA in rushing yardage.
The UAB defense hasn’t been too bad either. They’re 36th in the nation with 358 yards allowed per game, and allowing 24.3 points per game. Ohio are giving up 25.8 per game, so defensively, they are pretty even in that regard. The Bobcat defense did not look too good to close out the year, however. They surrendered 68 points in their final two games. This was after they neutralized a high-octane Toledo offense. The Rockets managed to score just 10 points.
Ohio employ a run-first attack on offense. They averaged 244.2 yards a game, which ranked 17th in the FBS. However, they may be without their leading rusher, A.J. Ouellette in this one. Ouellette suffered a shoulder injury against Buffalo that has been bothering him. It would take a 985-yard rusher out of the Ohio offense. Quarterback Nathan Rourke is a solid passer and runner.
Along with 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, he’s rushed for 877 yards and a staggering 21 touchdowns on the ground. Ohio will lean on him frequently in this one, especially if Ouellette is unable to play. UAB and Ohio are out of conference siblings. They do a lot of the same and are pretty well equal statistically and record wise. Motivation wise, I can see UAB getting up for this game a little more than Ohio. They would love to cap this fairy tale season off with a bowl win. It should be a close game, so the points look attractive in the Bahamas Bowl.
PICK: UAB +7 (-115)