Joe Londergan from Underdog Dynasty, who covers the American, C-USA, Sun Belt, and FCS side of college football, exchanged a question-and-answer session with me regarding BYU’s upcoming bowl game against UAB.
Joe was able to provide unique insight into what the Cougars are up against in the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
What was UAB’s reaction to being slotted against #13 BYU?
“I don’t think this was UAB’s first choice. For one, the game’s in Shreveport, Louisiana. For any BYU fans who haven’t traveled around the southeast much, Shreveport is not exactly New Orleans in terms of entertainment. Plus it’s a six hour drive from Birmingham as opposed to Montgomery (a discussed bowl destination prior to the announcement) which is less than two hours away. Also, this goes to how engaged the fan base is, the bowl game is scheduled for the same day as a big men’s basketball home game against West Virginia and many diehards were annoyed that this makes it impossible to attend both.
That being said, UAB definitely respects what BYU has built here and fans do seem excited to see this team compete against the No. 13 team in the nation.”
What’s an underrated part of UAB’s team BYU needs to be wary of?
“UAB QB Dylan Hopkins has a very effective deep ball. He’s completed a pass of at least forty yards in eight different games this year. The Blazers have this way of making you devote a bunch of energy and resources to defending to run, and for good reason, which opens up Gerrit Prince or Trea Shropshire way down the field. Those two receivers have combined for 14 touchdowns and over 1300 yards receiving this season. Prince is averaging 20.5 yards per completion and Tropshire is averaging 27.3 yards per completion. BYU’s safeties should be advised to not let #20 or #11 get behind them.”
What is the motivation level for UAB, knowing perhaps BYU feels disrespected with the matchup?
“Motivation level has to be reasonably high for this Blazer team. For one, you have a highly competitive head coach in Bill Clark who can’t be thrilled with missing out on the C-USA championship game for the first time since 2017 this season. Plus, this program has only won a bowl game one other time in their 24-season history. Getting to add to that trophy case should be a motivating factor for them. Plus, a win over a very good team like BYU is only going to help them build their profile on a national scale as they prepare to jump to the American Athletic Conference.”
How well do UAB fans travel? Will there be a big contingent of Blazer faithful in Shreveport?
“UAB fans travel reasonably well in my experience. They are definitely one of the most engaged fan bases in Conference USA. I think you’ll see a decent amount of Blazer folks, but the other factors I mentioned will most likely negatively impact UAB fan attendance compared to a different date or a closer location.”
Final score prediction
“I think BYU takes this, but expect a close game. While they aren’t a team at full strength, this is an incredibly competitive UAB team and you have a very accomplished senior class playing their last game. Based on how UAB plays and how BYU plays, it should be very physical in the trenches and whoever manages to catch the other off guard with a few critical explosive plays will get the victory. BYU 31-21 is my prediction.”
You can find the other side of this Q&A session here, as I answer Joe’s questions.