College Bowl Mania Series: UAB vs Northern Illinois

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Tues 12/18 at 6:00p CT on ESPN

Boca Raton Bowl

Northern Illinois (8-5, 82 SOS)

We saw the Huskies with a fantastic comeback in the MAC championship (down 29-10) to win 30-29. This was easily the best performance from Marcus Childers on the year. The Huskies offensive struggles have been well documented this season and their defense has shouldered the load by showing up every game. 

Sutton Smith leads the defense and has the ability to ruin a coach’s game plan in a hurry. No one has slowed this team down all year and it may be no different for UAB. NIU is ranked 6th in the nation versus the run, and 36th against the pass. Will this translate to a top running team such as UAB? Only time will tell. 

The Huskies main concern should be their offense. They will need Marcus Childers to step up and grow from these bowl practices in order to beat UAB. 

UAB (10-3, 118 SOS)

If you are not familiar with the UAB story, you will hear about it Tuesday. This team wasn’t playing football 2 years ago and are now conference champions. It is very impressive that Bill Clark is still sticking around for this game. 

UAB will look to get sophomore Spencer Brown involved early and often. He rushed for 1,149 yards and 16 touchdowns. Watching Smith chase Brown will be the match up of the game. 

The Blazers defense is pretty average, 44th versus the pass and 50th against the run. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see UAB limited NIU to 27 points, max. 

Best Bet: Rod Carey is 0-5 in bowl games as a coach. I’m not exactly sold on him overall either. He hasn’t done much outside of the years with Dave Dorens players and needs to find a way to win. With that said, Bill Clark has been very open that this is a must win and big game for UAB. I believe there’s a huge coaching gap between these two. UAB has advantages at mostly every level and that should show on Tuesday. UAB will try their best to limit the Sutton Smith effect on the game.