UAB vs Jacksonville State Prediction!

This is not your typical FBS vs FCS matchup Wednesday night. Both teams had very good years last year. UAB went 6-3 (3-6 ATS) winning Conference-USA and Jacksonville State went 10-3 (9-4 ATS) playing in both the fall and spring FCS seasons. Jacksonville State also made a run in the FCS Playoffs. Another wrinkle to this game is both coaches know each other and coached together dating back to the 1980s. They even both coached at Jacksonville State together back in 2013. If this game gets ugly, I could see UAB calling off the dogs out of respect and because they play #5 Georgia next week.

Analysis and Pick:

UAB returns 17 starters from last years C-USA championship team. Offensively, this includes all 5 offensive lineman, their QB Tyler Johnson, and stud TEs Hayden Pittman and Gerrit Prince. The key losses on offense for the Blazers are their all-time leading rusher Spencer Brown and their top two WRs Austin Watkins and Myron Mitchell. Defensively UAB was amazing last year and return 9 starters, this includes 4 legit CBs, 2 safetys, and a stout defensive line. The key loss is at the linebacker position losing leading tackler Jordan Smith to the NFL. UAB also has defensive transfers coming in from LSU, Arizona, and West Virginia.

Jacksonville State returns most of their players on offense and defense. Offensively, this team is led by Dual-Threat QB Zerrick Cooper and RBs Josh Samuel and Uriah West. In his career at JSU, Cooper has thrown for almost 7,500 yards with 61 touchdowns. He is electric and can make something out of nothing. If you recognize the name, that’s because he started a few games for Clemson back in 2017. He is on the FCS Heisman watchlist. Both RBs had 8 touchdowns last year and both can catch the ball out of the backfield. Defensively, JSU is strong as well led by DE D.J. Coleman and Safety Nicario Harper. Coleman has legit NFL buzz and had 12 TFLs with 9 sacks last year. Harper had 92 total tackles with 3 picks. Both are on the watchlist for FCS Defensive Player of the Year.

I like both of these teams this year and I think both make a strong case to win their conferences. UAB has a Top 10 defense and received a few top 25 AP votes to start the year. However, this JSU team is no joke and they return a ton of production from a successful team last year. UAB’s best form of attack is the running game. They lost their all-time leading rusher plus JSU’s defense only let up 92 rushing yards a game last year. In total, they only let up 17.6 PPG. Also, the fact both coaches know each other means both teams will be very prepared. This is why I side with QB Zerrick Cooper. His dual-threat capabilities give JSU something UAB doesn’t have when the defense forces the QB off schedule or takes away the run game. This JSU team almost beat Florida State last year and beat Florida International as a ten point dog. I expect this game to be very close with both coaches taking this game very serious. Also, if UAB gets up big, they may call of the dogs early with Georgia on deck. UAB went 1-3 ATS in games when favored by double digits last year. Give me Jacksonville State spread +16.5. Best of luck!

The Pick: Jacksonville State +16.5

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