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UAB Blazers vs. Texas A&M Aggies Prediction and Preview

UAB Blazers vs. Texas A&M Aggies Prediction and Preview

UAB Blazers vs. Texas A&M Aggies Prediction and Preview

The game circled on the schedule for the UAB Blazers and the Texas A&M Aggies, but for different reasons, is finally here. The Blazers (9-1, 7-0 C-USA) sneak out of Conference USA action seeking to put an exclamation mark on their 2018 season with a win over a SEC squad, while the Aggies (6-4, 4-3 SEC) seek refuge at Kyle Field from seven consecutive conference games before welcoming No. 7 LSU in an end-of-season battle royale.

UAB might be the best one-loss college football team that no one knows about... yet? The Blazers have won eight straight after escaping a 26-23 overtime trap game against Southern Miss in Week 11. With senior quarterback AJ Erdely missing a second consecutive game, Tyler Johnston III stepped up throwing for 207 yards and a score but tossed three picks in the process. The Blazers defense played lights out against USM allowing just 165 yards of total offense holding the Golden Eagles to five yards on the ground.

The Aggies returned home after three consecutive road games to host Ole Miss last week. The game was a back-and-forth affair deep into the fourth quarter until Kellen Mond connected with Quartney Davis on a five-yard pass and Trayveon Williams added an insurance 46-yard touchdown run with 1:39 left in the game for a 38-24 victory. Just about everything that could go right for A&M did as it compiled 502 yards of total offense against the Rebels.

UAB at Texas A&M

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN2

Spread: Texas A&M -17

Three Things to Watch

1. UAB’s quarterback situation

The Blazers have been able to get past Texas-San Antonio (52-3) and Southern Miss (26-23) without Erdely thanks to sophomore Johnston stepping up, but they may not be so lucky against the Aggies. Erdely is questionable with a shoulder injury putting two years of starting experience, 3,700-plus career passing yards, and 23 total touchdowns on the bench. Johnston looked like a Heisman candidate against UTSA hitting 10-of-17 passes for 249 yards with three scores, but USM created confusion holding him to one touchdown and three tossed picks.

The Aggies’ weakness on defense is going against the pass, allowing 257 yards per game. If UAB has a shot at pulling the upset, this is how it can do it.

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2. Trayveon Williams vs. UAB’s run defense

Statistically, UAB has one of the best run defenses in the nation, ranked No. 15 out of 129 FBS programs, holding the opposition to 107 yards per game. The Blazers are truly a team on defense with everyone doing their part lead by a talented linebacker corps. Chris Woolbright leads the pack with 54 stops and 11.5 tackles for a loss. Fellow linebackers Broderick Thomas (46) and Fitzgerald Mofor (45) are both active against the run.

Williams now leads the SEC in rushing (1,159) and is tied for second in touchdowns (11) after a 31-carry, 228-yard performance against Ole Miss. When the Aggies commit to running the ball and give Williams a minimum of 19 carries, they win.

3. Shock and awe vs. looking ahead

The Blazers have played some scrappy teams this season in Coastal Carolina, Louisiana Tech and North Texas, but they have not played a Power 5 team. UAB gets its first shot at a national audience on ESPN2 while playing in front of 102,000-plus screaming fans; how will the Blazers respond to the atmosphere and lining up against SEC talent?

One can bet that UAB will be fired up for the game, especially if they can keep it close early. A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher has to guard against complacency on his roster with a visit from LSU looming in Week 13.

Final Analysis

If A&M brings its A-game, this could be over by halftime. Aggies quarterback Mond is coming off a solid game against Ole Miss where he completed 19-of-28 for 236 yards with three touchdowns, but tossed an interception in a third consecutive game. Jace Sternberger is the best receiving tight end in the SEC and is ready to work over UAB’s linebackers.

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UAB running back Spencer Brown is poised to go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a second consecutive season as he is just 72 yards shy. He will need to post his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season for the Blazers to contend in this one.

Prediction: Texas A&M 45, UAB 17

— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.