UAB vs. North Texas Betting Odds & Pick: Target the Total in Saturday’s Conference USA Game (September 18)
Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Head coach Bill Clark of the UAB Blazers.
UAB vs. North Texas Odds
-105o / -115u
|North Texas Odds|
-105o / -115u
Two teams whose offensive ideologies couldn’t be on more opposite ends of the spectrum face each other on Saturday with the UAB Blazers (1-1) traveling for their sixth consecutive road game to take on the North Texas Mean Green (1-1).
As has been the case through much of Seth Littrell’s tenure, the Mean Green want to play as fast as possible, ranking seventh in the country in plays per game from 2018-20.
They’re already trending towards another top-10 finish in that category this season. The scoring output is not there, though, as Mean Green put up just 12 points in a loss to SMU last weekend where they had over 500 yards of total offense.
UAB averaged just 66 plays per game in 2020 — 105th nationally — and has been bottom-third in the country in pace since 2017.
The Blazers have dominated divisional opponents within the Conference USA since the program’s resurrection back in 2017, amassing an 18-3 record.
UAB cruised to an easy 31-0 win over Jacksonville State in Week 1 — which looks even more impressive considering Gamecocks’ result vs. Florida State last week — before being blown out by Georgia in Week 2.
Offensively, UAB hasn’t jelled quite yet, particularly on the ground where the Blazers are seeking a replacement for two-time 1,000-yard rusher, Spencer Brown.
Sophomore DeWayne McBride was thought to be just another version of Brown at 215 pounds, especially after averaging over 10 yards a carry as a true freshman. However, McBride has just 115 yards rushing through two weeks.
For an offensive line that returned all five starters, you expected better coming out of the gates as UAB ranks 90th in line yards and 78th in rush play success rate.
Let’s consider last week a one-off occurrence.
In a game where Georgia was down to their backup quarterback and UAB had not allowed a 200-yard passer in 11 straight games, Stetson Bennett had the game of his career, completing 10-of-12 passes for 288 yards and five touchdowns.
The results from the opener against Jacksonville State are more reflective of what to expect from this pass defense in 2021. In that game, the Blazers held a potential NFL prospect in quarterback Zerrick Cooper to just 88 yards passing and only allowed two completions of more than 15 yards.
After throttling Northwestern State 44-14 in their opening game, the Mean Green fell on the road at SMU by 23 points. They allowed Mustangs QB Tanner Mordecai to throw for 312 yards and four touchdowns in the loss.
Mean Green Offense
The hope this season from the Mean Green faithful was that Littrell would settle on one quarterback and ride him out for the season. That would mean shying away from the two-QB system between Austin Aune and Jason Bean that led to their worst passing output in four years.
On the bright side, Littrell appears to have settled on one guy in North Carolina transfer Jace Ruder. The not-so-bright side is Ruder’s numbers through two weeks aren’t pretty, as he’s completing just 58 percent of his passes with more interceptions (four) thrown than touchdowns (two).
Compounding matters, it looks like North Texas might be without multiple playmakers on the offensive side of the ball on Saturday, primarily, leading rusher DeAndre Torrey, who was pulled during the third quarter vs. SMU and did not return.
Also, Georgia transfer Tommy Bush suffered a leg injury last week following a 22-yard reception and was later seen on crutches on the sidelines.
As is always the case with college coaches, Littrell declined to comment on the extent of the injuries, but that’s two key playmakers for an offense that’s struggling to score points.
Against SMU last week, North Texas continued their struggles of finishing drives (4-of-18 on third downs) and converted none of their four attempts on fourth down. The Mean Green’s 37% conversion rate on third down this season puts them 79th in the country through two weeks.
Mean Green Defense
The defense shined in Week 1 vs. Northwestern State, but vs. SMU, the Mean Green were unable to stop a more worthy competitor.
Limiting big plays and stopping UAB on third-down will be crucial to the outcome of this game.
UAB vs. North Texas Matchup Analysis
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UAB Offense vs. North Texas Defense
North Texas Offense vs. UAB Defense
Pace of Play / Other
UAB vs. North Texas Betting Pick
UAB is 4-1 all-time against North Texas, last beating the Mean Green 26-21 back in 2019 to help clinch their second-straight division title.
Another trend that should be a surprise to nobody considering the Blazers’ defensive approach is the total has hit the under in four of UAB’s last six games.
With North Texas failing to convert drives into points, compounded by their injuries on the offensive side of the ball, the under is the play here. Torrey’s status will be one to monitor leading up to the opening snap.