Nov 19, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  UAB Blazers interim head coach Bryant Vincent  talks to the side judge against the LSU Tigers during the second half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

UAB holds off Miami (Ohio) late to win Bahamas Bowl

The bowl season began in dramatic fashion Friday as the UAB defense stopped Miami (Ohio) short of the goal line as time expired to hang on for a 24-20 victory in the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau.

Aveon Smith connected with Jalen Walker on a 13-yard pass on the final play of the game, but Walker was tackled at the 2-yard line to touch off a celebration by the Blazers.

UAB (7-6) had taken the lead on the previous series after making a bold decision. With no timeouts, 1:35 left and facing a fourth-and-1 at the Miami 12-yard line, the Blazers opted against attempting a game-tying field goal.

The gamble worked out even better than UAB hoped for, as Jermaine Brown Jr. burst through the offensive line and scampered untouched for the 12-yard go-ahead touchdown.

Brown paced UAB’s offense on the day with 24 carries for 116 yards and two scores. Dylan Hopkins completed 16 of 24 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown and Trea Shropshire caught six passes for 183 yards and a TD.

The Blazers have won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history after winning the Independence Bowl last season.

Smith completed 15 of 27 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns for Miami (6-7). He also rushed 22 times for a team-high 50 yards. Mac Hippenhammer and Kenny Tracy caught touchdown passes.

The game featured four lead changes and saw UAB jump out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Hopkins connected with Shropshire for a touchdown pass and Matt Quinn kicked a 42-yard field goal.

Miami battled back and took the lead in the third quarter on a 4-yard scoring rush from Kevin Davis. The two sides then exchanged touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

UAB won despite losing the turnover battle 0-3. The Blazers lost two fumbles and threw a pick. Miami’s offense simply wasn’t strong enough to take full advantage of those mistakes though. The RedHawks converted just 4 of 14 third downs and were outgained by 118 yards on offense by the Blazers.

It was the final game on UAB’s sidelines for interim coach Bryant Vincent. Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer takes the reins of the Blazers as their new head coach this offseason.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; UAB Blazers running back DeWayne McBride (22) celebrates after running for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

UAB, Miami (Ohio) chase 7th win of season at Bahamas Bowl

In the Bahamas Bowl, the winner will finish with a winning season. The other will go home with some extra sunshine and a losing record.

Miami (Ohio) will meet UAB in a battle of 6-6 teams in the first bowl game of the 2022 slate on Friday at 11:30 a.m. EST at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau.

While the teams enter with matching records, that’s where the similarities stop.

Miami is led by coach Chuck Martin in his ninth year, while UAB is in transition. This will be the final game that interim coach Bryant Vincent leads the Blazers before former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer takes the reins.

Dilfer said last week that he will be in the Bahamas for the game and will work with Vincent and his staff on whatever they need him to do.

“I plan on serving coach Vincent and this staff any way I can. I mean that. He is the head coach,” Dilfer told the Tribune newspaper of Nassau. “I’m here to support him in the transition, to serve these young men, to serve this staff. I’m not joking — if they send me on coffee runs, I’ll go on coffee runs. … I want to help them finish strong. I also hope to earn their trust as we go through this together, because great things are coming.”

This game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Blazers and RedHawks.

UAB ended the regular season – its final run in Conference USA before transitioning to the American next year – with a 37-27 road victory over Louisiana Tech. The Blazers were powered by a rushing attack that racked up 414 yards and three touchdowns. DeWayne McBride led the way with 272 yards on 16 carries for a 17-yards-per-try average.

A junior, McBride was tapped as the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year this season. He leads all of FBS in rushing yards (1,713) and touchdowns (19). UAB has the nation’s fifth-best rushing offense, averaging 243.1 yards per game.

Miami’s defense is anchored by Ryan McWood and Matthew Salopek, each of whom has more than 100 total tackles this season. Brian Ugwu leads the team in tackles for loss with 9 1/2.

“I like going to bowl games where it’s warm,” Martin said. “For a lot of these kids and a lot of these families, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

This is the first time since the 2003 and 2004 seasons that the RedHawks have gone to a bowl game in back-to-back seasons. They are 6-5 all-time in bowl matchups.

UAB is 2-3 all-time in bowl games and has been bowl-eligible in six straight seasons but didn’t play in one in 2020 because of a pandemic-related cancellation. UAB played in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl, losing 41-6 to Ohio.

–Field Level Media

Aug 27, 2022; Alabaster, AL, USA; Lipscomb Academy head coach Trent Dilfer watches as his team plays at Thompson High School in Alabaster, Ala., Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022 Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-Tuscaloosa News

Lipscomb Academy Vs Thompson High High School

Reports: UAB set to hire Trent Dilfer as head coach

Trent Dilfer is on the verge of jumping from a high school coaching job to becoming the head football coach at UAB.

Multiple media outlets reported Tuesday night that the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback is set to take over a Blazers team that went 6-6 this year, 4-4 in Conference USA play.

Dilfer is in his fourth year running the Lipscomb Academy football program in Nashville, and his team is one win away from capturing a second consecutive Tennessee Division II Class AA state championship.

Dilfer, 50, played 13 seasons in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1994-99), Baltimore Ravens (2000), Seattle Seahawks (2001-04), Cleveland Browns (2005) and San Francisco 49ers (2007). He wound up with a 58-55 regular-season record as a starter, throwing for 20,518 yards on 55.5 percent passing with 113 touchdowns and 129 interceptions.

Dilfer led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title in January 2001, completing 12 of 25 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown as Baltimore routed the New York Giants 34-7.

After his playing career, Dilfer went into broadcasting, working for NFL Network, ESPN and Fox Sports.

UAB was led this season by interim coach Bryant Vincent, who got the role when Bill Clark retired in the summer due to health issues. Clark had a 49-26 record with the Blazers, starting in 2014 before the program was shuttered for two years before resuming action.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  LSU Tigers running back Noah Cain (21) rushes against UAB Blazers linebacker Noah Wilder (50) during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 LSU pounds out 31 first downs, clobbers UAB

Noah Cain ran for three touchdowns, and John Emery Jr. and Jayden Daniels ran for one each as No. 6 LSU defeated visiting UAB 41-10 in a nonconference game Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.

Daniels ran for 111 yards and completed 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown as the SEC West champion Tigers (9-2) won their fifth consecutive game. Malik Nabers caught seven of those passes for 129 yards.

Dylan Hopkins completed 14 of 29 for 158 yards for the Blazers (5-6), who remained winless in five road games this season. DeWayne McBride, who was averaging 141 rushing yards per game, finished with just 34 yards on 13 carries.

LSU outgained UAB 565 yards to 259 and had 31 first downs, converting 11 of 13 third downs.

Daniels rushed 2 yards for a touchdown that increased LSU’s 28-10 halftime lead to 34-10 at the end of the third quarter.

He threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brian Thomas Jr. to complete the scoring early in the fourth quarter.

On the first possession of the game, LSU drove 79 yards and Emery ran 2 yards for a touchdown on third-and-goal.

Jermaine Brown Jr. returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards to the Tigers 30. Three plays later, McBride ran 5 yards to tie the score and increase his school single-season record for rushing touchdowns to 18.

Cain ran 5 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing possession that gave LSU a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Matt Quinn kicked a 29-yard field to pull the Blazers within 14-10.

The Tigers were in position to increase the lead when Emery lost a fumble at the UAB 8, the first of two fumbles he lost in Blazers’ territory.

But LSU added to the lead later in the quarter when Cain’s 1-yard touchdown run made it 21-10.

Cain added another 1-run touchdown run to push the lead to 28-10 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Head Coach Brian Kelly talking with Malik Nabers on the sideline as the LSU Tigers take on the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.Saturday October 22, 2022

Lsu Vs Ole Miss Football V1 7925

No. 6 LSU continues climb with SEC title shot secured

LSU’s four consecutive SEC wins secured the West Division title and a spot in the conference championship game against top-ranked Georgia.

But the No. 6 Tigers (8-2, 6-1) still have regular-season work ahead the next two weeks.

They will conclude their home schedule when they step out of conference play to face UAB on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La. Then they will visit Texas A&M before heading to Atlanta for the title game Dec. 3.

LSU was unranked entering its first season under head coach Brian Kelly. As soon as it appeared in the rankings or the first time, LSU was whipped by then-undefeated Tennessee 40-13. But the Tigers haven’t lost since, producing one of the most surprising seasons in college football.

Kelly said his focus this season was on building a foundation, not necessarily seeking a specific number of victories or titles.

“I didn’t put any wins or losses on this team,” Kelly said. “I put, ‘I want to play hard, I want to be better in November, I want to teach them how to win’. I think we’ve hit all of those markers, and that’s kind of where I wanted this program to be. I think we’re at where we should be at this time.”

After upsetting Alabama 33-32 in overtime two weeks ago, the Tigers went to Arkansas last week and struggled before edging the Razorbacks 13-10. They wrapped up the West a few hours later when Alabama held off Ole Miss.

“Winning is a habit and losing is a habit,” Kelly said. “What we can take out of that game is they have done the things necessary to make winning a habit. They found a way to win that football game.”

UAB (5-5, 3-4 Conference USA) needs a win in its final two games to become bowl eligible. It’s coming off one of its most impressive victories of the season, a 42-21 triumph against North Texas in the home finale.

The Blazers finished 5-1 at home and are 0-4 on the road. But all of the road losses – against Liberty, Rice, Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic – have been by seven or fewer points. Their lone home loss was a 44-38 set-back against UTSA in double overtime.

“Every loss came down to the end and we had opportunities to either win the game or tie the game, and that’s tough,” first-year coach Bryant Vincent said. “It challenges your character, it challenges your mentality, and that’s something that this football team has never strayed from.”

The Blazers rank 29th nationally in yards allowed (338.4 total yards per game).

In the victory against North Texas, DeWayne McBride rushed for three touchdowns, giving him a school-record 17 this season. He has 10 straight 100-yard rushing games and UAB ranks sixth in the FBS with 247.1 yards per game. McBride is second with 1,407 yards.

“We realize that we’re going into Tiger Stadium in a night game,” UAB coach Bryant Vincent said. “They’re ranked sixth in the country, they’re going to play for the SEC championship. This is a game that our players and this football team, we’re not going to back down.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2021; Shreveport, LA, USA; UAB Blazers head coach Bill Clark embraces  UAB Blazers offensive linemen Colby Ragland (53) after defeating the BYU Cougars during the 2021 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

UAB coach Bill Clark retires due to serious back issues

UAB football coach Bill Clark said Friday that he is retiring from his post due to chronic back issues.

Clark, who famously rebuilt the program in Birmingham after it was shut down for two seasons, will officially step down on Aug. 1.

“Retiring as the UAB head football coach is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but my future health and well-being depend on it,” Clark wrote on Twitter.

Clark, who turns 54 on Tuesday, will leave after eight years and six seasons. He has a 49-26 record, including the only two bowl victories in school history.

Clark said he will undergo spinal fusion surgery in hopes of alleviating the back issues that have plagued him. He said he initially hurt the back while doing squats in high school.

“I have reached this difficult decision after consultation with a number of world-class medical experts and much family discussion, reflection and prayer,” Clark said in his lengthy statement. “Having undergone a previous back surgery, extensive physical therapy, shots and chiropractic therapy, I have exhausted all of my options.

“Due to the extreme physical demands placed on a head coach, it is clear to me. It’s time to pass the torch and try and get well.”

Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent will serve as interim coach, and defensive coordinator David Reeves was promoted to assistant head coach. The Blazers are moving from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference for the 2023 season.

The UAB program was shut down after the 2014 season due to financial reasons. The program was reinstated one year later and the Blazers began play again in 2017 and Clark stunningly guided the team to an 8-5 record that season and an 11-3 mark in 2018.

Clark was named Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year for the 2018 campaign.

The Blazers went 9-4 last season for their fifth straight winning season. UAB finished the campaign with a 31-28 victory in the Independence Bowl over No. 13 BYU — the highest-ranked team the program has ever defeated.

“We rose from ashes to build something rare and real, and we did it together,” Clark wrote. “We set excellence as a standard, and we achieved it.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2021; Shreveport, LA, USA; BYU Cougars quarterback Baylor Romney (16) runs the ball during the second quarter against the UAB Blazers during the 2021 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

UAB uses ground game to beat No. 13 BYU in Independence Bowl

Dylan Hopkins threw three touchdown passes, including a 14-yard strike to Trea Shropshire in the fourth quarter to give UAB a 31-28 upset of No. 13 BYU on Saturday in the Independence Bowl at Shreveport, La.

Hopkins’ game-winning toss came on fourth-and-7 with 6:17 left. It was the second fourth down UAB (9-4) converted on the drive as it won a bowl game for the second time in the program’s 31-year history. BYU was the highest-ranked opponent the Blazers have ever beaten.

Hopkins completed 19 of 23 passes for 189 yards. DeWayne McBride carried 28 times for 183 yards and scored on a 64-yard sprint in the first quarter.

BYU (10-3) was led by Tyler Allgeier, who carried 27 times for 192 yards and three touchdowns in breaking the Cougars’ single-season rushing record. Allgeier topped the mark of Luke Staley who ran for 1,582 yards in 2001. Allgeier finished the year with 1,601 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns.

Allgeier’s third score of the game came early in the fourth quarter after Masen Wake ran 29 yards with a shovel pass to the 1-yard line. Allgeier’s touchdown carry gave BYU a 28-24 lead.

But UAB retaliated with a 75-yard drive. McBride carried for 44 yards in the march which milked 8:16 from the fourth-quarter clock.

BYU moved to midfield on its ensuing possession but at the end of a 22-yard reception, Samson Nacua fumbled and UAB’s Mac McWilliams recovered with 3:36 left. The Blazers then ran out the clock as McBride rushed for a pair of first downs and Jermaine Brown (8 carries, 47 yards) carried for another.

The Cougars were without injured starting quarterback Jaren Hall. Baylor Romney completed 15 of 23 passes for 195 yards.

UAB took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Hopkins capped a 60-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Gerrit Prince.

On the Blazers’ next possession, McBride broke into the clear on off tackle run, stiff-armed a defender to the ground and outran two other defenders to the end zone on his 64-yard touchdown run.

But BYU responded with touchdowns on its next two possessions. On a 72-yard drive on which he accounted for all the yards on seven carries, Allgeier capped it with a 1-yard scoring run. Then Nacua scored on a 2-yard end around to tie it.

UAB regained the lead before the half ended as Hopkins capped a 78-yard march with a 23-yard strike to Prince on a wheel route.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; BYU Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) throws the ball against the Southern California Trojans in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Independent BYU fired up to make Independence Bowl statement

BYU had hopes of landing an upper-tier bowl game with a resume that includes a 10-2 record and the College Football Playoff ranking — No. 13 — only a dozen teams can trump.

BYU went 5-0 against Pac-12 teams this season and also defeated Virginia of the ACC.

Yet, the Cougars aren’t even close to the New Year’s Six and landed in a bowl game that gets the team back home well before Christmas.

Being an independent brought limited options and the Cougars are putting on brave faces when they discuss the reality: a matchup with UAB on Saturday in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

But Cougars coach Kalani Sitake, who just received a contract extension through 2027, opts against joining the woe-is-us rhetoric.

“I hope you know how excited we are to perform in this bowl game next week,” Sitake told reporters. “We are focused on the game and having a wonderful time at the Independence Bowl.”

Quarterback Jaren Hall said the message has been consistent since the bowl site was announced.

“Kalani has been pumping energy into us, and the other coaches have done a great job of continually harping on the importance of this next game,” Hall told reporters. “I think as players we are taking it and running with it. I think the energy will stay the same.”

There is no such issue for UAB (8-4), which is playing in a bowl game for just the fifth time.

This is the fourth bowl appearance in coach Bill Clark’s six seasons, and BYU easily represents the toughest foe.

“BYU is a big-time, quality opponent,” Clark told reporters. “We know we’ve got our work cut out for us. We have a lot of work to do to compete with them, but we are excited. It is a great step for our program, no doubt.”

Clark took over prior to the 2014 season, and the university disbanded the program following the season. Public outrage led to a reversal, and football was reinstated for the 2017 season.

The Blazers notched their lone bowl win in 2018 when they drubbed Northern Illinois 37-13 in the Boca Raton Bowl.

This season, UAB lost two games against ranked teams, falling to then-No. 2 Georgia 56-7 in September and to then-No. 15 UTSA 34-31 in November.

Stunning the Cougars would rate as one of the top wins in program history.

UAB will be trying to slay a program that beat Pac-12 champion Utah as well as Arizona, Arizona State, USC and Washington State.

The Cougars average 33.5 points and 457.1 yards per game, with Hall and running back Tyler Allgeier leading the way. Hall has passed for 2,583 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions while Allgeier ranks eighth nationally with 1,409 rushing yards and is tied for the national lead with 20 touchdowns.

Defensively, middle linebacker Ben Benwater has a team-leading 93 tackles.

UAB also has a strong running back in DeWayne McBride, who has racked up 1,188 yards and 12 scores on the ground. Quarterback Dylan Hopkins has thrown for 2,085 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Highly regarded nose tackle Tyree Turner (3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles) fuels a run defense that ranks 11th nationally by allowing 104.2 yards per game.

UAB and BYU are meeting for the first time.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA;  UTSA Roadrunners head coach Jeff Traylor looks on in the second half against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 UTSA’s last-second TD caps wild win over UAB

Frank Harris hit Oscar Cardenas on a 1-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game as No. 22 Texas-San Antonio needed a miracle finish to defeat Alabama-Birmingham 34-31 on Saturday afternoon in a key Conference USA game in San Antonio and remain undefeated.

The Roadrunners took over at their own 23-yard line with 1:06 remaining and no time outs, trailing by four points. Harris completed passes of 28 yards to Cardenas and 6 and 33 yards to De’Corian Clark, the latter to reach the UAB 10-yard line.

After a 9-yard run by Harris and an incomplete pass, Harris connected with Cardenas for the game winner as the clock expired.

The win clinched UTSA’s first-ever C-USA West Division title and guaranteed the Roadrunners (11-0, 7-0 C-USA) a spot in the conference championship game. UTSA’s 11-game winning streak, its seven wins in seven conference games and nine straight victories at home are all new program marks.

Harris ended up with 323 yards and three TDs passing, with Sincere McCormick rushing for 65 yards and a score, and Zakhari Franklin catching six passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

Dylan Hopkins passed for 254 yards and two touchdowns for the Blazers (7-4, 5-2), who had a two-game winning streak snapped. DeWayn McBride ran for 144 yards and the go-head score with 5:16 to play, forcing UTSA into its comeback.

The Blazers wasted no time setting the table, with Hopkins hitting Tre Shropshire on a 74-yard TD bomb on the game’s second snap. Harris and McCormick responded by engineering a 12-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard one-handed touchdown catch by Franklin.

Hopkins and Shropshire connected again near the end of the first quarter, this time from 40 yards away before McCormick rambled into the end zone on an 8-yard run to retie the game with 10:24 to play in the second quarter.

Hopkins then capped a 75-yard, eight-play drive with an 8-yard scoring run.

UTSA’s Hunter Duplessis and UAB’s Matt Quinn traded field goals, from 51 and 23 yards, respectively, over the final 2:18 of the quarter as the Blazers carried a 24-17 lead into the break.

The Roadrunners went to the quick-strike big-play 51 seconds into the third quarter as Harris passed 54 yards to Franklin for the tying TD. Duplessis booted a 49-yard field goal with 1:21 to play in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2021; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos wide receiver Stefan Cobbs (5) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first half against the UTEP Miners at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

AAC targeting Boise State, UAB, others for expansion

The American Athletic Conference has identified potential candidates, most from the Mountain West, to join the league after the announced exodus of three teams to the Big 12, CBS Sports reported Thursday.

At the top of the AAC’s wish list are Mountain West programs Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State, along with UAB of Conference USA.

The conference is losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma began the chain reaction of moves with their announcement that they will join the Southeastern Conference in 2025.

The CBS report said the AAC likely will be looking to add four teams to bring the number of members to 12, with Boise State the most coveted addition based on the strength of its football program. CBS reported last week that Boise State, as well as Memphis, also could be top targets for the Big 12 should it choose to expand to 14 teams.

The AAC also has a second tier of teams it could pursue if it is spurned by any of its preferred teams, per the report. It includes FAU and UTSA from Conference USA.

BYU, an independent in football and a Mountain West member in the other sports, is joining the Big 12 in 2023, with the AAC teams expected on board by July 1, 2024.

–Field Level Media