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Last Updated Dec 22, 2021, 15:36 PM

Independence Bowl Picks, Predictions and Odds: UAB vs. BYU

Dec. 18, 2021
Jonathan Willis
VI Betting Expert

The BYU Cougars will look to end their impressive season with a win as they take on the UAB Blazers in the Independence Bowl. Kick off is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET and will air on ABC from the Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Score Prediction

BYU 30, UAB 20

Best Bets

BYU -6.5 (-110) at FanDuel

Independence Bowl Predictions

BYU has made a bowl game in 16 of the last 17 seasons. Kalani Sitake’s second season in Provo was the only year in which the Cougars didn’t go bowling, and they are 9-6 in these games. They will look to make it 10-6 with a win over the UAB Blazers in their first ever trip to the Independence Bowl.

The No. 13 BYU Cougars went 10-2 this season despite the loss of Zach Wilson. Everyone expected BYU to take a step back without the star quarterback, but the Cougars kept up their winning ways under Kalani Sitake. They should be able to reach 11 wins for the second straight season by beating UAB, marking the first time that BYU has done that since early in the Bronco Mendenhall era.

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Independence Bowl Betting Resources

  • Matchup: CUSA vs. Independent
  • Date: Saturday, December 18, 2021
  • Venue: Independence Stadium
  • Location: Shreveport, Louisiana
  • TV-Time: ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET

UAB Blazers Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 8-4
  • ATS: 9-3
  • O/U: 5-7

Tyler Johnston III began the season as UAB’s starting quarterback. He was sharp in a win over FCS Jacksonville State, but his struggles against Georgia led to Dylan Hopkins taking over as the starter. Hopkins isn’t a world beater with just one game of more than 260 passing yards this season, but he is averaging 9.8 YPA in this offense.

Protecting Hopkins has been a problem over the second half of the season. He has been sacked at least three times in each of UAB’s last five games. The run blocking has been fine though as DeWayne McBride averaged 6.8 YPC and ran for nearly 1,200 yards with 12 touchdowns in this offense. McBride suffered an injury in the first quarter of the season finale, but he is expected to play against BYU.

There are two players to watch in the passing game. Trea Shropshire is averaging 27.3 YPR and tight end Gerrit Prince is averaging 20.5 YPR for the Blazers. UAB takes a lot of deep shots for a team that runs the ball over 61% of the time.

UAB has one of the best defenses in the Group of Five. The Blazers rank 27th in Defensive SP+, and they are allowing just 3.0 YPC. Defensive tackle Tyree Turner is a disruptor in the middle of the line with 3.5 sacks.

BYU Cougars Betting Analysis

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 10-2
  • ATS: 5-7
  • O/U: 5-7

Jaren Hall hasn’t been as effective as Wilson as a passer, but he has had a fine season running the BYU offense. Hall is completing almost 64% of his passes for 8.7 YPA with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is also averaging 5.0 YPC as the second leading rusher on the Cougars.

Tyler Allgeier has had a phenomenal season for BYU. Allgeier has run for over 1,400 yards (5.7 YPC) with 20 touchdowns. He had a monster game against former head coach Bronco Mendenhall and Virginia in late October, carrying the ball 29 times for 266 yards and five TDs.

Only three players have 30 receptions or more for BYU. Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney are big play threats averaging at least 17 YPR, and Neil Pau’u is the Cougars’ underneath receiver.

BYU ranks 67th in Defensive SP+. The Cougars haven’t been good at getting to the quarterback, but they have done a good job stopping the run. That allowed them to go 5-0 against Pac 12 opponents over the course of the season.

Inside the Stats - UAB Blazers

  • Record: 8-4
  • VI Ranking: 52
  • Points Scored: 353
  • Points Allowed: 274
  • PS/G: 29.4 (59th)
  • PA/G: 22.8 (41st)

Inside the Stats - BYU Cougars

  • Record: 10-2
  • VI Ranking: 12
  • Points Scored: 402
  • Points Allowed: 291
  • PS/G: 33.5 (29th)
  • PA/G: 24.2 (47th)

Key Players to Watch

  • UAB: Dylan Hopkins - QB (136/212, 2,085 yards, 15 TD, 6 INT)
  • UAB: DeWayne McBride - RB (177 carries, 1,185 yards, 12 TD)
  • BYU: Jaren Hall - QB (189//296, 2,583 yards, 20 TD, 5 INT)
  • BYU: Tyler Allgeier - RB (249 carries, 1,414 yards, 20 TD)

Independence Bowl Betting Conclusion

The Cougars are a more well-rounded team than the Blazers, and they have played a lot tougher competition. This is a bad matchup for UAB, and BYU will be able to effectively move the ball.

Independence Bowl Betting Trends

  • UAB has covered the spread in four of its last five games when playing as the underdog.
  • UAB has gone OVER the point total in four straight games when facing an AP-ranked Top 15 school.
  • BYU has failed to cover the spread in five of its last six games away from home.
  • BYU has failed to cover the spread in six of its last nine games when playing as the favorite.

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