With a 10-2 record and No. 13 national ranking, BYU probably deserved a better bowl spot than the lower-tier Independence Bowl on Dec. 18 vs. UAB, but that’s the price of being an independent for the Cougars – no pun intended.
It’s the first time that UAB and BYU will meet in football. It’s only the fifth bowl game in UAB history. The Blazers have been bowl eligible all six years under Coach Bill Clark (2014, 2017-2021), but missed the postseason in 2014 when the program was shut down and last year after South Carolina withdrew from the Gasparilla Bowl. UAB’s lone bowl win was in 2018 over Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl.
UAB vs BYU 2021 Independence Bowl Game Information
- When: Saturday, Dec. 18 at 3:30 pm ET
- Where: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
- TV: ESPN
- Radio: WJOX 94.5 (UAB) / KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM (BYU)
- Live Stream: WatchESPN
- College Football Odds: Western Kentucky (+3) / Appalachian State (-3)
Why Bet on the UAB Blazers?
UAB could be without leading rusher DeWayne McBride, who suffered an injury in the regular-season finale. After compiling 395 rushing yards in his first six games, McBride exploded in the second half of the season, tallying 794 of his 1,188 total rushing yards in his final six games. His 1,188 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns are both currently the fifth most in a single season at UAB. McBride ranks fourth nationally with an average of 6.75 yards per carry. Third-leading leading receiver RaJae’ Johnson-Sanders entered the transfer portal as did quarterback Tyler Johnston, although Johnston had lost his starting job to Dylan Hopkins.
Hopkins is completing 64.2 percent of his passes this season and has the second highest pass efficiency rating in Conference USA (164.45). Hopkins saw limited action in the first two games, but has thrown for 2,085 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions, while adding five rushing touchdowns. He is 6-3 as the starter this season and 9-5 overall for his career.
Wide receiver Trea Shropshire and tight end Gerrit Prince have emerged as deep threats for UAB’s offense. Shropshire leads the nation with an average of 27.28 yards per catch, while Prince is seventh nationally and leads all tight ends with an average of 20.50. BYU is ranked No. 13 in the latest College Football Playoff poll (released Tuesdays).
Why Bet on the BYU Cougars?
BYU is in a bowl game for the 16th time in 17 seasons, and fifth in six seasons under Coach Kalani Sitake. BYU is 3-1 under Sitake in bowl games. The Independence Bowl is BYU’s 39th bowl game in school history. Those bowl appearances are tied for 20th in the FBS and more than the likes of Notre Dame, UCLA, Wisconsin, Stanford, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Utah.
The Cougars have an overall bowl record of 16-21-1. Of BYU’s 38 bowl appearances, 18 of them have been decided by a one-score margin or less, including two of the three games in Sitake era — the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl (24-21 victory over Wyoming) and the 2019 Hawaii Bowl (38-34 loss to Hawaii).
It was no sure thing that Sitake would still be at BYU, his alma mater, for the bowl as Oregon was after him, but Sitake agreed to an extension through the 2027 season at BYU. Sitake has been at BYU for six seasons, and has led the Cougars to a 48-28 record since 2016. He has led the Cougars to back-to-back double-digit win seasons.
The season featured a 5-0 record against Pac-12 schools, including a 26-17 victory over conference champion Utah along with wins over then-nationally ranked Arizona State, Arizona, USC and Washington State. Among its 10 victories, the Cougars also defeated Mountain West Conference champion Utah State as well as bowl-bound ACC foe Virginia.
BYU has one of the nation’s top running backs in Tyler Allgeier. The sophomore was a Doak Walker Award semifinalist and is tied for the national lead in rushing touchdowns with 20. Allgeier is No. 8 nationally in rushing yards with 1,409 and is No. 6 in rushing yards per game with 117.4.
UAB vs BYU Betting Trends
- Blazers are 4-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Blazers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog.
- The total went over in 4 of UAB’s last 5 games.
- Cougars are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games in December.
- Cougars are 5-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- The total went under in 10 of BYU’s last 15 games.
UAB vs BYU Expert Betting Predictions
Pick: BYU 27, UAB 17
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*All odds stated are subject to change without prior notice.