Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard
Sports Betting Commercial Content. 21+. Provided by Action Network, official betting partner of The Inquirer.

Bahamas Bowl prediction: Miami (Ohio) vs. UAB pick

Bet on heavily favored — and highly motivated — UAB to open the bowl season with a blowout victory

UAB Blazers running back DeWayne McBride heads into Friday’s Bahamas Bowl leading the nation with 1,713 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
UAB Blazers running back DeWayne McBride heads into Friday’s Bahamas Bowl leading the nation with 1,713 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)Read moreWesley Hitt / Getty Images

And away we go with college football postseason, as the first of 43 bowl games kicks off Friday in the most ideal of December destinations: The Bahamas.

This year’s Bahamas Bowl pits two .500 squads against each other, though you wouldn’t know it by the point spread: UAB from Conference USA is a double-digit favorite against Mid-American Conference foe Miami (Ohio).

Can the Redhawks, who have just one double-digit defeat since mid-September, remain competitive against a UAB squad playing its final game for a respected interim coach? We think not.

Here’s our Bahamas Bowl prediction for Miami (Ohio) vs. UAB, which kicks off at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN.

Note: Odds updated as of 9:45 a.m. on Dec. 14.

Miami, Ohio vs. UAB Prediction

  1. UAB -10.5, -115 (at FanDuel)

Miami, Ohio vs. UAB Prediction: Analysis

This otherwise nondescript bowl matchup has some intriguing subplots that made the game a bit more difficult to handicap.

It starts with Bryant Vincent, who has been UAB’s interim coach all season. Vincent was promoted from offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach after head coach Bill Clark resigned for health reasons back in June.

Despite leading the Blazers to a 6-6 record and a bowl game, Vincent was passed over for the full-time gig earlier this month when the school hired former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer to take over the program.

The decision didn’t sit well with UAB’s players, many of whom reportedly lobbied for Vincent to get the job.

Rather than walk out the door, though, Vincent stuck around and prepped his players one more time for the Bahamas Bowl. And even though Dilfer will be in attendance, Vincent will call all the shots Friday.

In other words, we’re going to see the Blazers play with peak motiviation — you know they went to send their coach out with a victory.

As for the intrigue on Miami’s side, it has to do with the quarterback position. Brett Gabbert, who began the season as the starter, played only four games because of injury.

» READ MORE: College Football Playoff odds: Georgia remains favorite to repeat

After the regular season ended, Gabbert entered the transfer portal, then changed his mind and returned to the squad. Gabbert isn’t expected to play Friday, which means backup Aveon Smith once again will lead the offense.

A run-first quarterback, Smith is completing just 48.4% of his passes for an average of 126.3 yards per game with nine touchdowns and five interceptions. He does lead the Redhawks with 503 rushing yards, a 5.0 yards-per-carry average and six scores.

But that fact alone — a backup quarterback leading the team in rushing — played heavily into our decision to lay the points with UAB.

No, the Blazers aren’t great defending the run (they rank 95th in the nation, giving up 171.2 ground yards per game). But they played in a much better conference than Miami.

Also, UAB surrendered most of those rushing yards in its four most recent losses to Texas-San Antonio (209 rushing yards), LSU (266), Florida Atlantic (172) and Western Kentucky (224).

On the other side of the ball, Miami fields the 40th-ranked rushing defense — but the Redhawks haven’t faced a ground attack like the one they’ll see in the Bahamas Bowl.

Junior running back DeWayne McBride won Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year honors after leading the nation in both rushing yards (1,713) and touchdowns (19). Overall, UAB ranks fifth in rushing at 243.1 yards per contest.

We expect McBride and his offensive line to dominate this game from start to finish. And no matter who lines up under center for the Redhawks, we like the Blazers’ defense — which allowed just 20.6 points per game in its five FBS victories — to come up big.

Here’s what else we like: Although UAB is just 3-3 ATS as a double-digit chalk, all six of its victories were double-digit routs.

Even if you take out a season-opening 59-0 rout of FCS foe Alabama A&M, the Blazers’ other four v were by an average of 16.8 points. That’s about what we expect in this one: a victory in the 31-14 range.

Lay the wood with UAB at FanDuel.

Miami, Ohio vs. UAB odds (via FanDuel)

  1. Point spread: Miami, Ohio (+10.5, -105) @ UAB (-10.5, -115)

  2. Moneyline: Miami, Ohio (-430) @ UAB (+330)

  3. Total: 44.5 points (Over -115/Under -105)

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.