Why Marshall Will Win
– The Marshall defense has been special. The offense is fine, but it hasn’t needed to press with a D that has yet to allow more than 20 points in a game. The stunning 20-0 loss to Rice a few weeks ago was the first time all season the defense allowed more than 17 points. It’s second in the nation against the run, second in total defense, and No. 1 in scoring D.
– QB Grant Wells is the franchise guy to build around. The 6-2, 210-pound freshman can run a little bit, and he’s a solid midrange passer who started the season out by bombing Eastern Kentucky for 307 yards and four scores, and in mid-November added 336 yards and five touchdowns. He had a rough outing against Rice with five interceptions leading to the loss, but …
– UAB has a major turnover problem. The Blazers managed to be clean against Rice – unlike Marshall – but before that it gave the Balla ways multiple times in each of its previous four games and 15 times on the season. Marshall is tough enough defensively, but give up two turnovers, and uh oh.
Why UAB Will Win
– The offensive line was terrific. It was great at blocking for Spencer Brown and the ground game, and even better in pass protection allowing just three sacks all year. That’s partly because of the Blazer style, but the line was just that good and should hold its own against the strong MU defensive front.
– UAB can play a little D, too. Marshall’s defense might be the star of the conference, but the Blazers finished second in total D, allowing fewer than 90 rushing yards and fewer than 300 total yards in three of the last four games. Marshall doesn’t run away and hide in games, and UAB’s defense should be able to keep this close.
– If this really is a low-scoring battle of two defenses, field position is going to matter. The Marshall punting game is fine, but nothing great, and UAB’s Kyle Greenwell is averaging 43.44 yards per punt. To be fair, Marshall hasn’t had to punt a whole bunch and Greenwell needed to do a lot more, but the field should be tilted.