The 2017 UAB Blazers Are Bowl Eligible after 52-21 Win Over Rice Owls

I’m not sure there’s really a whole lot more that needs to be said, beyond that headline.

We can spend a lot of time talking about how UAB’s season has been full of benchmarks and victories in places other than the playing field. Heck, one even happened this week, when head coach Bill Clark signed a new contract extension through the 2022 season that brought his average salary up above $1 million a season.

But at the end of the day, the actual on-field victories feel just as good, and the Blazers controlled the game wire to wire – as we would expect given the relative profiles of these two teams – on their way to a 6-2 record. The first four UAB offensive drives racked up 239 yards and four touchdowns on only 27 plays, and three first half turnovers including a pick-six let the Blazers sail out to a 35-7 halftime lead.

Rice added a couple of late touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put a little polish on their loss, but the Blazers controlled this game throughout. Sam Glaesmann started for the Owls but was benched after an incompletion and an interception. Miklo Smalls was able to eventually put up a better line, but not before the aforementioned interception touchdown and some poor clock management that cost Rice at least three points to close out the half.

AJ Erdely finished this game an absurd 20-for-21 passing for 197 yards and three touchdowns, but the running game, as usual, was the star. The offensive line opened gaping holes right from the start, and Spencer Brown and James Noble combined to carry the ball 27 times for 213 yards and three scores. Brown now has 805 yards and seven touchdowns in conference play.

Having the bowl eligibility monkey handled early makes things interesting for the Blazers. It relieves a lot of pressure and should allow them to play loose in their next couple of road games. They’re unlikely to win the division since they’re still a game back of a UNT team that just has Rice and UTEP left, but they have momentum heading to UTSA and they may even be a slight favorite against a Florida team in a tailspin.

Rice, on the other hand, keeps adding nails into David Bailiff’s coffin. The offense is predictable, the defense can’t stop anyone, and there seems to be no end coming soon. Time will tell, but it doesn’t look good for Bailiff at least on paper.

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