Bahamas Bowl 2017: UAB vs. Ohio preview, predictions, and live stream

(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

The Bahamas Bowl will feature one of the most interesting pairings of teams this bowl season — Ohio, a perennial bowl team, and UAB, a team that didn’t exist last year.

More: Complete 2017-2018 bowl schedule

When the UAB football program was shut down after the 2014 season, they became the internet’s pet cause. The decision seemed at best unjust and misinformed and at worst spiteful and political. Their hashtag was soon forgotten, and the internet quickly moved on to their next outrage cycle as the internet is wont to do. The Blazers have come all the way back and their redemption story reaches its climax in the Bahamas Bowl against one of the steadiest programs in the Group of Five, Ohio.

Blazers head coach Bill Clark won six games in his first year after taking over a 2-10 team. UAB wasn’t given a bowl bid. He then had his job taken away. He could have bailed then, but he stayed and fought to bring the program back. They rejoined Conference USA this season with the lowest of expectations and blew them out of the water.

Clark and the Blazers went a school-best 8-4 and 6-2 in conference play.  The powers that be couldn’t keep them out this year and their miracle year culminates in what has to be one of the better bowl trips that can’t result in a national championship. The Blazers went from existential crisis to a Bahamian beach and their second bowl in school history.

On the other side, Ohio has been the picture of stability. Head coach Frank Solich is finishing up his 13th year at the school. Ohio is going to their eighth bowl in nine years. The one year, 2014, they missed going to a bowl game they were eligible at 6-6 but were not selected. The Bobcats finished second in the MAC-East after dropping their last two games of the season by one score at Akron and at Buffalo.

Here’s how you can watch Friday’s UAB Blazers (8-4) vs. Ohio Bobcats (8-4) game:

Date: Friday, Dec. 22
Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
Location: Nassau, Bahamas
Venue: Thomas Robinson Stadium
Live Stream: WatchESPN

Keys to Victory

The Bahamas Bowl will be a game decided by the running games. Ohio averages 244.2 yards per game. Their quarterback Nathan Rourke has 21 rushing touchdowns and 882 yards on 6.1 yards per carry. AJ Oulette and Dorian Brown have seven touchdowns apiece and 980 and 605 yards, respectively.

Freshman running back Spencer Brown is a huge reason for UAB’s rapid recovery. Brown has run for 1292 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per rush. Quarterback AJ Erdeley leads the team in rushing touchdowns with 13.

The Bobcats’ rushing defense has been significantly better (111.4 to169.8), but part of that is teams could pick on the Bobcats’ passing defense that gives up 261.8 yards per game. The problem is the Blazers don’t have the passing game to take advantage of that weakness.  They average only 174.4 passing yards per game.

Next: Predicting all 41 bowl games and CFB Playoff


Ohio is favored by 6.5 points over UAB. I am not going to pretend this pick is that rational. In the sports movie, UAB wins this game. This is the most under-reported, under-the-radar incredible story in sports in 2017. It is ludicrous that UAB is where they are. College teams are more susceptible to this “team of destiny” stuff and buying in than the pros. Why not believe in happy endings?

Final Score: UAB 31, Ohio 28