Bahamas Bowl Preview: UAB vs. Ohio

BAHAMAS BOWL STORYLINES

1. Two years after the school shut down its football program amidst financial concerns, UAB won a school-record eight games to earn its second-ever bowl berth. The Blazers, guided by National Coach of the Year candidate Bill Clark, will face Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl on Friday, Dec. 22. UAB earned its invitation to the island paradise by finishing second in the West Division of Conference USA, thanks in part to a ground attack which produced 27 touchdowns.

2. Ohio finished second in the MAC’s East Division, one game behind Akron. The Bobcats lost to the Zips 37-34 in the penultimate game of the regular season, snapping their four-game winning streak, and capped the campaign with another narrow setback at Buffalo. Despite the consecutive defeats to end the season, the speedy Bobcats still finished the slate ranked 14th in the nation in scoring with an average of 38.9 points.

3. Under Clark, who was named the conference’s top coach, the Blazers went 6-0 at home and revitalized their fan base to lead the league in attendance. Defensive back Darious Williams earned All-American Honorable Mention laurels after leading the squad with five interceptions, including one pick in four straight games. Ohio is paced by dual threat quarterback Nathan Rourke, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more in a 45-28 win over Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 1.

TV: 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.

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ABOUT UAB (8-4, 6-2 Conference USA): The last time the Blazers played in a bowl game was in 2004, when they participated in the Hawaii Bowl, and getting back was not an easy endeavor after the program was shut down in 2014. Quarterback A.J. Erdely passed for 2,077 yards with 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions while rushing for 289 yards and 13 more scores. Spencer Brown carried the ball 237 times for 1,292 yards and 10 TDs while Andre Wilson was the team’s top receiver, hauling in 48 passes for 619 yards and six touchdowns.

ABOUT OHIO (8-4, 5-3 MAC): The Bobcats have won exactly eight games for three straight seasons but suffered bowl losses to Troy last campaign and Appalachian State two years ago. Rourke, who relished the time off to recover from several nagging injuries, racked up 2,018 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 882 yards and 21 scores. A.J. Ouellette finished the regular season with 980 yards and seven scores on 184 carries.

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