UAB vs Central Arkansas odds, picks: 2020 college football predictions from top expert. The UAB Blazers enter the 2020 college football season hungry for redemption.
Bill Clark’s team fought through injuries to win Conference USA’s Western Division, but the Blazers were embarrassed by FAU, 49-6 in the C-USA Championship Game.
UAB then let an early lead slip away in a 31-17 loss to Appalachian State in the New Orleans Bowl to finish 9-5 overall, including a 6-2 mark in conference play. But finally, the long, strange offseason is officially over, and the Blazers are ready to kick off the season against the Central Arkansas Bears.
Central Arkansas was a late addition to the schedule after UAB lost its originally scheduled season opener against New Mexico State, which is one of 54 programs to cancel or postpone its fall season.
The Bears posted a 9-4 record last year, which included an upset victory over FBS opponent Western Kentucky, and opened the season with a 24-17 victory over fellow FCS squad Austin Peay. UAB will be the first of three FBS opponents UCA is set to play in 2020.
Central Arkansas at UAB
Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 3, at 8 p.m. ET
When Central Arkansas Has the Ball
Though Central Arkansas got a much-needed spark from running back Kierre Crossley, who finished with 110 rushing yards and one touchdown on just 13 carries last week, the Bears offense will typically go as far as quarterback Breylin Smith takes it.
Smith earned Second Team All-Southland Conference honors as a sophomore last year while setting the school record with 3,704 passing yards and tying the Bears all-time mark with 32 touchdowns.
He was 26-for-49 passing with 283 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Governors last week — but he was also intercepted twice. Smith’s favorite target, Lujuan Winningham, who caught six passes for 80 yards, was on the receiving end of a 10-yard touchdown pass with 0:34 on the clock to seal the victory.
However, yardage could be difficult to come by this week. UAB led Conference USA and ranked No.
8 nationally last season in both total defense (301.9 yards allowed per game) and passing defense (183.6). The Blazers ranked ninth in the country in yards allowed per play (4.71) and return most of the players that helped lead the way — plus All-C-USA caliber cornerback Brontae Harris, who missed the season with a foot injury.
Outside linebacker Jordan Smith, one of the top pass rushers in the nation, racked up 17.5 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks a year ago. Kristopher Moll was close behind with 16.0 TFLs and 9.0 sacks and also accounted for 104 total tackles. Both Smith and Moll were credited with four forced fumbles.
When UAB Has the Ball
The UAB offense flashed promise and explosiveness in 2019 but didn’t perform well in terms of traditional statistics. The Blazers scored just 23.1 points per game, which ranked No.
102 overall, and averaged 351.9 total yards per contest, which ranked 105th. Nevertheless, quarterback Tyler Johnston III ranked No. 9 nationally (tied with Trevor Lawrence) averaging 9.0 yards per pass attempt. Johnston completed 59.0 percent of his passes for 2,250 yards and 17 touchdowns in 11 games, but he also tossed 15 interceptions.
Big-play receivers Austin Watkins Jr. (the only returning 1,000-yard receiver in Conference USA) and Myron Mitchell are back, as is the running back trio of Spencer Brown, Jermaine Brown Jr., and Lucious Stanley, who all reached 400 yards on the ground last year.
Spencer Brown ran for 1,227 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018 but was slowed by injury last season. Listed at 230 pounds last year, Brown has reportedly slimmed down in an attempt to increase his quickness as a senior. That should be good for his yards-per-carry average, which dipped to 3.77 in 2019. Five returning starters on the offensive line should help as well.
The Central Arkansas defense held Austin Peay to 333 total yards, 75 of which came on the first snap of the game. Thanks in part to the presence of FCS All-American cornerback Robert Rochell, UCA allowed 5.5 yards per pass attempt, holding the Govs to 14 completions on 33 attempts, including an interception .
Central Arkansas was able to knock off some of the rust of a long offseason, and the Bears were able to get to Birmingham right away after playing last week in Montgomery, Ala. It’s a short week against a superior opponent, but UCA has tried to make the best of a difficult situation.
After surviving a scare from FCS Alabama State in the opener last year, UAB put together a very good season led by one of the best defenses in the country. Thanks to the return of a veteran group of playmakers on both sides of the football, the Blazers are among .
Prediction: UAB 42, Central Arkansas 10
Last Season Records: UAB 9-5; Central Arkansas 9-4
What to KnowThe UAB Blazers will play against Division II opponent the Central Arkansas Bears in an early-season tune-up on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET at Legion Field. While UAB was not exactly top dog last season.
This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last three years.The Central Arkansas Bears will try to build on a big win in their opener when they take on the UAB Blazers on Thursday night at Legion Field.
Central Arkansas beat fellow FCS playoff team Austin Peay in the division’s kickoff game Saturday, while this is FBS foe UAB’s season opener. The Blazers went 9-5 and were 6-2 in Conference USA last season and had one of the top defenses in the country. Central Arkansas, .
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET in Birmingham, Ala. UAB is an 18.5-point favorite and the over-under for total points scored is 48 in the latest Central Arkansas vs. UAB odds. Before making your UAB vs. Central Arkansas picks, be sure to see the college football predictions from SportsLine’s Emory Hunt.
Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis for all levels of football since 2007, and he is a former running back at Louisiana-Lafayette. He knows the game from a player’s and coach’s perspective.
The football analyst was SportsLine’s No. 1 college football expert last season. Hunt went 116-79 on college football picks against the spread in 2019, returning a huge profit of $2,976 to his followers. He capped off the year with LSU -5.5 over Clemson in the national championship. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
Now, Hunt has studied UAB vs. Central Arkansas from every angle and has revealed his picks over at SportsLine. Here are the college football odds and trends for Central Arkansas vs. UAB:
Central Arkansas vs. UAB spread: UAB -18.5
Central Arkansas vs. UAB over-under: 48 points
UCA: QB Breylin Smith threw for at least 283 yards in eight games last year.
UAB: The Blazers are 18-0 at home, and 28-13 overall, since the program was resuscitated before the 2017 season.
Why Central Arkansas can cover
Central Arkansas’ offense can really air it out, and Smith and fellow All-Southland pick Lujuan Winningham are an elite combination. They hooked up for a 10-yard touchdown with Smith threw for 3,704 yards last season with 32 touchdown passes as the Bears ranked 16th in FCS in passing offense.
Tyler Hudson had five catches for 82 yards in the opener after hauling in 55 for 975 yards and 12 TDs to earn Southland Freshman of the Year honors in 2019. The Bears also got a nice surprise from running back Kierre Crossley, who ran for 110 yards on 12 carries and a TD against Austin Peay.
Why UAB can cover
The Blazers have the defense to make some noise in Conference USA after sharing the with just 183.6 through the air. UAB’s defense ranked third in the nation in allowing opponents to convert on third down just 28.3 percent of the time. The Blazers return 18 starters from a team that will close out its run at Legion Field this year.
The defense is led by linebacker Kristopher Moll, who had 104 tackles and nine sacks in 2019, and defensive end Jordan Smith, who had 10 sacks. Smith and Moll eac for 2,250 yards and 17 touchdowns.
How to make UAB vs. Central Arkansas picks
Hunt is leaning over on the total, and he’s also found a critical x-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Central Arkansas vs. UAB? And which critical x-factor has Hunt jumping all over one side of the spread? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the UAB vs. Central Arkansas spread to jump on Thursday, all from the expert who was up almost $3,000 last season on college football picks, and find out.
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