UAB (1-6) at Tulane (1-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (73,208) -- New Orleans, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: UAB 1-3, Tulane 1-3. Away Record: UAB 0-3, Tulane 0-3. Neutral Record: UAB 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Conference Record: UAB 0-3, Tulane 1-2. Series Record: Series is tied, 4-4.
GAME NOTES: Two teams at the bottom of Conference USA will be pitted against one another when the UAB Blazers travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to face the Tulane Green Wave.
UAB was able to keep up with East Carolina for most of its last contest, but ended up on the wrong side of a 42-35 decision. The loss was the second in a row for the Blazers and dropped them to 1-6 on the season. UAB's only win came against Southeastern Louisiana , an FCS program. The last time UAB defeated an FBS school was last season when the Blazers upset eventual C-USA champion Southern Miss.
After ending a nation's worst 15-game losing streak with a 27-26 win over SMU, Tulane fell right back into the loss column with a 24-20 defeat to UTEP last weekend. That loss also put Tulane at 1-6 on the season although the Green Wave's win over SMU did give it a conference win, the first for Tulane since 2011.
That conference victory came against UAB coincidentally and with the victory the Green Wave evened the all-time series at four games a piece. UAB had won the previous two games in the series.
In the 12-team C-USA, UAB is squarely in the middle in terms of offensive production as the Blazers are putting up 393.4 yards of total offense and scoring 28.0 points per game. The offense has come despite the team constantly allowing opposing defense into the backfield. The Blazers have allowed 25 sacks and 54 tackles for loss, which are both the most in the conference.
Austin Brown has officially secured the starting quarterback job from Jonathan Perry. After Perry started the first two games, Brown has been the starter in the last five. In that time he has thrown for 1,420 yards and eight touchdowns while completing 59.2 percent of his passes. Against East Carolina he threw three touchdown passes which was the second time this season he has had that many in one game.
Brown's favorite target has been Adam Nicks, who has accumulated a team-high 25 receptions since Brown took over. Adams is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season against ECU, when he brought in four passes for 114 yards. Jackie Williams (29 receptions, 474 yards) has been the overall leader this season among receivers. Jamarcus Nelson (384 yards, 4 TDs) has fewer yards but has been an explosive threat in the passing game as well.
Darrin Reaves has been the squad's best option in terms of running the ball, although he as only averaged 50.7 yards per game. Still, his 355 yards and six touchdowns are more than twice any other ball carrier.
The UAB defense has been lit up for 437.9 yards per game this season which ranks sixth in the defensively weak C-USA. UAB has also had trouble with keeping teams from putting up points, allowing 35.7 points per game with teams converting on 88.6 percent of their red zone attempts, the worst mark in the conference.
UAB does have the benefit of having one of the best tacklers in the conference in Marvin Burdette, who has racked up 80 already this season. That is just two behind the conference leader DeAundre Brown of Tulsa. Burdette also has a team-high 7.5 tackles for loss and is tied for the team-lead with two sacks. In the secondary, Lamarcus Farmer has been effective with seven pass breakups.
There are a number of reasons Tulane has struggled to get wins in recent seasons, and its inconsistency on offense is one of them. The Green Wave are ranked last in most offensive categories in the conference, including total yards (251.0 pg), scoring (13.1 ppg) and rushing, where it has accumulated only 190 yards total this season to rank dead-last nationally.
With such little help from the run game, added to the fact that the Green Wave are often playing from behind, there has been a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Ryan Griffin has largely been the starter although D.J. Ponder and Devin Powell have also been given shots. Griffin has thrown for 979 yards while completing 62.8 percent of his passes. More importantly he has six touchdowns and just one interception.
Ryan Grant is the best offensive weapon with the receiver totaling a team-high 474 all-purpose yards this season. Grant has had three 100-yard games this season including a season-high 116-yard outing against ECU.
Rob Kelley (181 yards) and Orleans Darkwa (102 yards) are the only backs who have shown an ability to run the ball with some effectiveness. Darkwa's 61- yard game against ECU was a season-high by any Tulane running back.
Tulane is also at the bottom of the C-USA barrel in defense, allowing teams to put up 474.7 yards per game. The Green Wave has been marginally better in limiting teams on the scoreboard, ranking 10th in scoring defense (37.4 ppg).
Darion Monroe is the team's leading tackler with 52, although he has just one tackle for loss on a team that ranks last in the conference in the category. That ranking is despite the efforts of Austen Jacks, who has 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this season.
Neither of these teams figure to be in the C-USA discussion in the near future. Tulane already put an end to its losing streak and in this matchup UAB may have just enough to push the Green Wave's current skein to two games.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UAB 22, Tulane 19
10/24 10:36:43 ET