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Independence Bowl Betting Guide: UAB Blazers vs. BYU Cougars

Pair of 1,000-Yard Rushers Set to Meet in Independence Bowl

The Brigham Young Cougars figure to see plenty of Alabama Birmingham running back DeWayne McBride when the teams meet in the Independence Bowl on Saturday

A sophomore from Starke, Fla., McBride has touchdown runs in each of his last six games for the Blazers. Speaking of scoring touchdowns, the Brigham Young Cougars rank eighth nationally in red zone touchdown conversion rate. BYU has scored touchdowns on 38 of 52 trips to the red zone.

UAB vs. BYU Betting Preview
Chris Gardner/Getty Images/AFP

Both teams exceeded the Las Vegas odds projections. UAB had an expected win total of 7½ and BYU’s expected win total was 6½.

BYU enters the game No. 13 in the College Football Playoff rankings and No. 12 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Game: Alabama Birmingham (8-4) at Brigham Young (10-2)
Location: Independence Stadium
Day/Time: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Television: ABC

Blazers vs BYU Cougars Betting Lines

Team Point Spread Moneyline Over/Under
UAB +7 (-110) +225 55 (-110o)
Brigham Young -7 (-110) -265 55 (-110u)

Blazers: Strong Finishing Kick

The UAB Blazers certainly didn’t lack for challenges in the early part of their schedule with a game at Georgia, a team that would spend much of the season ranked first in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. They also have a game against Liberty and quarterback Malik Willis, one of the top NFL draft prospects.

There were some defensive issues in those two games, but when UAB won five of its last seven regular-season games, the defense didn’t give up much. After allowing 535 and 545 yards in the losses to Georgia and Liberty, UAB didn’t allow more than 400 yards during that second-half surge. Southern Mississippi managed only 107 yards of offense while Florida Atlantic and Marshall were both held under 300 yards. The win over the Thundering Herd was particularly gratifying since Marshall was the only Conference USA team with better odds to win the conference title according to the sportsbook.

Three Players to Watch

Sophomore running back McBride leads the UAB Blazers with 1,188 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Junior quarterback Dylan Hopkins has thrown for 2,086 yards and completed more than 60 percent of his passes in each of the last six games. Senior linebacker Noah Wilder leads the team with 86 tackles.

Injury Report

Running back Larry Wooden has missed the last two games.

Cougars Feasted on Pac-12 Teams

The Brigham Young Cougars started the season in glorious style with a 26-17 win over nationally ranked Utah when listed by the college football odds as seven-point underdogs. It was one of four wins over Pac-12 teams.

BYU’s offense really hit its stride later in the season, including back-to-back games with 66 and 59 points scored. The Cougars had more than 500 yards of total offense in three of their final four regular-season games, including 734 against visiting Virginia.

The win over the Cavaliers is paying dividends on the recruiting trail as three former Virginia commits from the state of Utah have flipped to BYU.

Brigham Young was 6-1 in games decided by 10 points or less.

The Cougars were just 2-4 against the college football spreads in their last six games as a favorite.

Three Players to Watch

Running back Tyler Allgeier has 1,414 yards and 20 touchdown runs and has also caught 26 passes. He needs 169 yards to become BYU’s single-season leader and is the first player from Brigham Young with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Harvey Unga in 2007 and 2008. Sophomore quarterback Jaren Hall has thrown for 2,583 yards with 20 touchdown passes. Linebacker Ben Bywater has 93 tackles, including 13 in a win over Southern California in the Cougars’ regular-season finale.

Injury Report

Linebacker Chaz Ah You, offensive lineman James Empey are questionable. Defensive back Keenan Ellis, as well as receivers Kody Epps and Neil Pau’u, are out indefinitely. Receiver Brayden Cosper is out for the season.

Betting on the Game

Brigham Young’s Tyler Allgeier is tied for the national lead with 20 touchdown runs. The Cougars are 11-1 over the last two seasons when Allgeier runs for at least 100 yards.

UAB ranks 18th nationally in total defense, allowing 323.3 yards per game. The Blazers are tied for 10th for the fewest number of scrimmage plays of 10 yards or more allowed.

BYU has scored 40 points or more in three of its last seven bowl games.

UAB has not covered in its last seven games against FBS independents, although the Blazers are 6-1 in their last seven games against the college football odds

The total has gone under in 10 of Brigham Young’s last 15 games.

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