Last week, in front of a home crowd at Legion Field in Birmingham, UAB (3-0) took down in-state foe, South Alabama 35-3. It was an impressive win against a team that was 5-0 against non conference opponents from Alabama. The Jaguars scored their only points of the game, a 27-yard field goal by Frankie Onate as time expired in the first quarter. The Blazers then went on to score 21 unanswered points. The Blazers also outgained South Alabama 514 yards to 190. This home win brings the Blazers’ undefeated home record to 14-0 since their reinstatement in 2017.
This week the Blazers look to turn their attention to their road trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky. They will be playing (1-2) Western Kentucky, who the Blazers last played and beat 42-39 in 2014. UAB is 3-3 against WKU, but their their three wins are the last three matchups (1996, 1997, & 2014.)
Last week, Sophomore quarterback Tyler Johnston III passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns, going 22-for-27 and throwing one interception. In addition, Johnston got sacked once- this is the first sack the UAB offensive line has given up all year.
Another noteworthy stat is Kendall Parham, a senior receiver hailing from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, leads the nation with an average of 28 yards-per-reception. Parham has 224 receiving yards this year and three touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, the Blazer defense remains nationally ranked. They now are ranked 22nd in the nation in total defense. They have a fourth ranked third down percentage, only allowing conversion 21.4% of the time and average just over four sacks a game.
First reported by UABSports.com, Head Coach Bill Clark spoke on the high respect he has for WKU Head Coach Tyson Helton, “I've known him a long time going back in my UAB days and really even before that. He would be out on the road recruiting when I was at Prattville. I really have a lot of respect for him and know that staff pretty well. I know they're going to be ready. They're coming off an open date, which is scary for us since they're in the same boat we were a week ago. It's extra preparation that they have to go against us, so I know they'll do a good job with it." Clark is referring to Helton’s time as a quarterback / running back coach for the Blazers from 2007-2012,while Clark coached at Prattville High School and at South Alabama.
Although Western Kentucky comes off a loss to Louisville two weeks ago, the Hilltoppers are 1-0 in Conference Play. WKU traveled to Miami on September 7th and beat FIU 20-14. The Hilltoppers are averaging 23 points a game with 371.7 yards per game. While they are successful in passing with around 260 passing yards per game, they have staggered when it comes to running the ball. They only have 325 rushing yards total on the season.
Western Kentucky’s offense is led by redshirt junior quarterback Steven Duncan who is passing at 58.82% has six total touchdowns (five passing, one rushing)- which leads the offense. Redshirt junior running back Gaej Walker is averaging about 4.9 yards per carry with three touchdowns and 293 total rushing yards.
WKU’s defense seems to be in a similar spot. Though they give up around 29 points per game and 353 yards per game, the Hilltoppers have 23 total tackles-for-loss and seven sacks on the year.
WKUSports.com reports that in his weekly press conference, Helton had high praise for the Blazers, “UAB is a really good football team, they won the conference last year and really they haven't lost a step. They lost several players - graduating or guys moving on - but the guys who have replaced them are very good players as well, they're 3-0.”
Helton also complimented UAB’s defensive line saying that he believes they “control the line of scrimmage well.” Helton continues, “They're able to rush four and play coverage, so that gives them an advantage; they're able to get pressure on the quarterback without having to blitz, so they're able to get extra guys in coverage.”
The Conference USA matchup will kickoff at 6:00 P.M. CT and will be broadcasted on ESPN+. Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have set the point spread at UAB -3 and have not set an O/U. A win for the Blazers would bring their season record to 4-0, a feat that has never been accomplished by UAB in their time in Conference USA.
Written By Bryant Horn
Follow him on Twitter