UAB vs

Northern Ill

at Boca Raton
Tue, Dec 18
4:00 PM Pacific
Odds: Northern Ill +2, Total: 42.5

Game Analysis

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Alabama-Birmingham (-2)  22   Northern Illinois  19

Both of these teams lean on their defense, as UAB yielded just 18.8 points per game against FBS opponents while NIU gave up just 21.5 points per game. Northern Illinois actually has the stronger defense and the best player on the field in All-American DE Sutton Smith (24.5 total tackles for loss) but UAB has a more capable attack and my math model leans with the Blazers to cap off what has been an historic season.

UAB revived football just last season and this season the Blazers won the C-USA title and will be aiming for their 11th victory. Birmingham’s defense is actually just average on a national scale, allowing 5.0 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.1 yppl against an average defensive team but that is more than good enough to control a horrible Northern Illinois attack that’s averaged a paltry 4.8 yppl this season (against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average team). The Huskies only hope is to have success on the ground with their mediocre rushing attack (5.2 yprp against teams that would allow 5.2 yprp) because quarterback Marcus Childers cannot be counted on to carry the load given his horrible 4.3 yards per pass play average (against teams that would allow 6.4 yppp to an average quarterback). Childers miraculously averaged 7.5 yppp in the MAC Championship comeback win over Buffalo but he’s averaged more than 5.2 yppp only twice in 13 games this season and his projected at just 4.3 yppp in this game. UAB is 0.2 yards per rushing play better than average (4.6 yprp allowed to teams that would average 4.8 yprp against an average team) so the Blazers should be able to contain the Huskies’ mediocre ground game. My math model projects just 292 yards at 4.7 yards per play for Northern Illinois in this game.

NIU’s only chance to win will ride on the shoulders of Smith and their defense. UAB’s offense will likely be led by backup quarterback Tyler Johnston III, as starter A.J. Ederly is still listed as questionable and may not start even if he’s healthy. Ederly averaged 6.2 yards per pass play against teams that would allow 7.4 yppp to an average quarterback and his compensated numbers were 1.5 yppp lower than Johnston, who averaged 7.4 yards on his 117 passes against FBS opposition that would combine to allow 7.0 yppp to an average QB. Johnston does a good job of pushing the ball down the field, averaging 15.1 yards per completion despite not having a pass play of more than 50 yards (Ederly had a 95 yarder and still had much worse numbers). However, those longer passes also lead to more interceptions, as Johnston threw 8 picks on 111 pass attempts. NIU, however, picked off only 7 passes in 13 games and they don’t get their hands on many balls (just 3.2 passes defended per game), so I don’t expect more than 1 interception from Johnston in this game. UAB has a pretty good rushing attack to go along with their vertical passing game, as the Blazers averaged 220 rushing yards at 5.3 yard per rushing play this season (against teams that would allow 5.3 yprp) and overall that unit rates at 0.1 yppl worse than average with Johnston at quarterback – although that rating would be higher if they needed to throw more, which they might have to in this game since running the ball will be a severe challenge against NIU’s stout defensive front. The math projects 369 yards at 4.9 yards per play for UAB in this game.

Overall the math favors the Blazers by 4 points with a total of 41.5 points but compensated points model would make this game a pick. There isn’t enough value on the side or total to recommend even a lean in this game. Pass.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • UAB
  • Northern Ill


  • Run Plays 41.3 29.8
  • Run Yards 205.0 117.3
  • YPRP 5.3 4.7


  • Pass Comp 12.6 16.0
  • Pass Att 23.3 28.9
  • Comp % 53.9% 55.3%
  • Pass Yards 185.5 193.9
  • Sacks 2.1 3.3
  • Sack Yards 15.3 21.6
  • Sack % 8.2% 10.1%
  • Pass Plays 25.4 32.2
  • Net Pass Yards 170.3 172.3
  • YPPP 6.7 5.4


  • Total Plays 66.8 62.0
  • Total Yards 390.5 311.2
  • YPPL 5.9 5.0


  • Int 1.2 0.6
  • Int % 5.0% 2.0%
  • Fumbles 0.3 0.8
  • Turnovers 1.4 1.3
  • Points 29.3 17.3
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