BYU vs. UAB Betting Odds, Predictions: How to Bet Independence Bowl

BYU vs. UAB Betting Odds, Predictions: How to Bet Independence Bowl article feature image

Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images and Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured, from left: UAB Blazers linebacker Alex Wright (16) and BYU Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3).

BYU vs. UAB Odds

Saturday, Dec. 18
3:30 p.m. ET
BYU Odds
-110o / -110u
UAB Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

One of the best matchups of Saturday's college football bowl slate is the Independence Bowl between UAB and BYU.

The Blazers recorded a strong season in C-USA and fell just short of reaching the conference championship, but they still ended the year with an 8-4 record. UAB has been incredible on both sides of the ball and presents a difficult challenge for BYU in Shreveport.

The Cougars weren't expected to have a great season after losing a ton of production and No. 2 overall NFL Draft pick Zach Wilson, but they went 10-2 and put up a 5-0 record against the Pac-12 Conference. Now, they hope to reach 11 wins for the second time in as many seasons.

BYU showed it was an offensive juggernaut against some pretty poor defenses and struggled against some of the stronger defenses on its schedule. Will UAB find a way to keep that trend going on Saturday?

Independence Bowl
Saturday, Dec. 18 · Shreveport, LA

BYU Cougars

Offense Leading the Way for Cougars

The BYU offense is why it has already won 10 games. The Cougars have an efficient and incredibly explosive offensive at 6.6 yards per play.

BYU's rushing attack, led by Tyler Allgeier, has been lethal, as the lead back is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and has BYU ranking inside the top 25 in Rushing Success Rate.

Allgeier also has an incredible offensive line blocking for him, as BYU ranks 10th in run blocking grade, per PFF, and sits top-25 in Offensive Line Yards.

A potential issue for the Cougars is that a lot of those numbers were put up against some pretty bad run defenses, unlike UAB.

Jaren Hall has been very efficient this season, throwing for 8.7 yards per attempt with an 83.3 PFF passing grade this season. However, this is the best secondary he'll have seen since Boise State in early October.

BYU Hurt by its Defense

BYU's defense has been terrible all season, allowing 5.7 yards per play and ranking 100th in Success Rate Allowed.

The Cougars haven't stopped the run at all, allowing 4.4 yards per carry, ranking 93rd in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, 101st in EPA per rush allowed and 76th in Stuff Rate. With that, I don't know how BYU is going to stop UAB's dynamic running back tandem.

The secondary hasn't been much better, ranking 84th in EPA per pass allowed and 104th in Passing Success Rate Allowed. Even though UAB runs the ball over 64% of the time, it will be able to throw on BYU's secondary.

The biggest thing with BYU's defense, though, is the fact that it has put no pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season, ranking 82nd in Havoc and 118th in terms of a pass-rush grade. That's bad news against a quarterback like Hopkins.

UAB Blazers

Blazers Offense Remains Efficient

UAB plays at a very slow pace, but its offense was very efficient this season, averaging 5.9 yards per play and ranking 24th in EPA per play.

The Blazers have a rush-heavy offense behind one of the best running back tandems in Conference USA in DeWayne McBride and Jermaine Brown Jr., who both have carried the ball over 100 times this season and are averaging more than 5.0 yards per carry.

With that, it makes sense that UAB rushes the ball at the 11th-highest rate in the country when it finished the regular season as the fifth-best rushing offense in college football in terms of EPA per rush.

RT if you think DeWayne McBride should win National Player of the Week.

210 yards and 4 TD…on 14 carries (15 YPC) 🤯

— UAB Football (@UAB_FB) November 8, 2021

UAB will be able to run the ball all over BYU, which has not only been below average against the run from a Success Rate standpoint (91st), but it's also been susceptible to giving up big plays in the running game, ranking 58th in rushing explosiveness allowed.

Dylan Hopkins has been as efficient as they come at quarterback this season, averaging 9.8 yards per attempt on only 212 pass attempts.

The big factor in this matchup will be whether or not Hopkins can throw the ball deep. He had a PFF passing grade over 90 on throws 20-plus yards in the air, as UAB ranked fifth in explosive passing.

The BYU defense gave up way too many explosive plays this season, ranking 106th in big plays allowed, so UAB should be able to move the ball efficiently on Saturday afternoon.

UAB Defense Has Been Solid

UAB has been fairly stout defensively all season, allowing only 4.8 yards per play for the 18th-best mark in the country.

The strength of the Blazers' defense is in the front seven, especially stopping the run. UAB allowed only 3.0 yards per rush during the regular season, which was the eighth-best mark in the country.

The Blazers also are top-25 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and Defensive Line Yards, but the biggest stat of all might be that they're third in the country in rushing explosiveness allowed. So, they should be able to slow down BYU's rushing attack.

The secondary has also been fantastic this season, allowing only 7.4 yards per attempt. UAB also ranked 34th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and posted the ninth-best coverage grade, per PFF.

The biggest thing with the UAB defense is how fundamentally sound it is. The Blazers have the 15th-best tackling grade and have given up the 13th-fewest big plays, which is huge against an explosive offense like BYU.

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Brigham Young vs. UAB Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UAB and BYU match up statistically:

UAB Offense vs. BYU Defense
Rush Success3493
Line Yards4668
Pass Success52104
Pass Blocking**48118
Big Play23106
Finishing Drives3092
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

BYU Offense vs. UAB Defense
Rush Success1421
Line Yards2116
Pass Success2734
Pass Blocking**264
Big Play413
Finishing Drives3493
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling1587
Middle 87758
SP+ Special Teams10195
Plays per Minute12668
Rush Rate64.1% (11)54.8% (66)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

BYU vs. UAB Betting Pick

This is a fantastic matchup for UAB, especially going up against a BYU defense that is outside the top 90 in a lot of important defensive metrics.

I only have BYU projected at -1 and our PRO Projections have BYU at -5.5, so I love the value on the Blazers to cover at +6.5 or better.

Pick: UAB +6.5 or better

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