UAB had 4th and 3 with about 5-minutes to go, down 7-points. Without having gone back and pulled up the numbers, it sure felt like a scenario that UAB would have “won” in previous seasons. I am forgetting the details, but they came up with huge plays vs Marshall in the title game, huge plays vs Rice in the weeks before that. They came up with huge plays vs UTSA in the “playoff” game in San Antonio (before getting beat on the final drive). They have shown themselves to be a quality team … and now they sort of peter out with a pass that didn’t go anywhere.
That is completely unfair, of course. Judging a team on a single play here and there is not really good analysis, but it is exactly what everyone else is doing. Football is entertainment, first and foremost. People in Birmingham want to have good feelings when they watch the UAB squad. This last half-decade did not have overly beautiful football on the field, but it had winning football. It had a powerful run game, a tough defense, and a timely pass game.
Now? The run game is there. The defense is doing a job. The pass game is not as timely. Can that be it? It is hard to say. The fans are unhappy with the interim head coach and if this UAB season has done anything, it is raise Bill Clark’s profile a little higher.
The Dragons had a shot. 1:54 left in the game and another opportunity. Zeno mounted a nice drive (thanks to some heavy-lifting from McBride). The broadcast showed the graphic that UAB is 0-3 in one-score games this season, which tells you how unlucky they are. But also tells you how they haven’t been able to win the game before desperation time. They had a final toss into the end zone into some good coverage. It simply wasn’t to be.
As it is, The Blazers are just about eliminated from title contention. For the rest of you non-UAB people, here are the standings, and scenarios below.
It looks like we are lining up for a UTSA-UNT rematch. For neutrals, that would be a great thing. The first game had an incredible finish that saw UTSA pull out a miracle drive (Cardenas was incredible) and eek out a win. In a possible title game, they would have a little bit of a healthier squad after a bye, but you never know. They were banged up. North Texas has lost a tackle as well. The game is one of attrition.
Rice and FIU can make their way into the game, but will need help. Everyone needs to win out as a first condition. UTSA has UAB and Rice on the road, but should be favored in all of their remaining games. The challenge for them is in maintaining their level of sharpness.
North Texas can do a little rooting against UTSA and with some good fortune they could get to host the title game in Denton. As it is, they should be fine even with a loss to UAB in Birmingham. They have room for error, but that isn’t anything they want to play with. There is also a nice little bye to get a little healing done.
Western is not eliminated, but need some miracles to happen. They have a favorable schedule the rest of the way (even Auburn sucks, but that’s non-con) but will need NT to collapse with a couple of losses. They would need UTSA to lose three times if NT does not drop two. Not happening.
There are a few tie-breaking scenarios we didn’t list here. This is not comprehensive. Just know this is the bare minimum to get into the conversation and for the league to breakout the sheet with the tie-breakers. In the past it has been head to head, then division (non-existent at present), then record against common opponents.
FAU does not have UTSA on the schedule so the common-opponents metric would come into play. FAU lost to UNT while UTSA beat them. That would be a tiebreaker.
Of course, the league’s official announcements would trump anything I write here. I am just putting it to you for some context and discussion.
|UTSA||4-0||Win the regular season and host if they win out||@ UAB, Tech, @ Rice, UTEP|
|UNT||4-1||Clinch 2nd and play in the title game on Dec 2nd by winning out||FIU, @ UAB, bye, Rice|
|WKU||3-2||Need one of UTSA/NT to lose twice + win out||@ CLT, Rice, (at Auburn), @ FAU|
|FAU||3-2||Need one of UTSA/NT to lose twice + win out||bye, @ FIU, @ Middle, WKU|
|FIU||2-2||Win out and they are in title game*||@ NT, FAU, @ UTEP, Middle|
|Rice||2-2||Win out and they are in*||UTEP, @ WKU, UTSA, @ NT|
|UAB||2-3||Need a miracle — like NT, WKU, FAU losing to everyone||UTSA, NT, @ Tech|
|UTEP||2-3||Just about done. Playing for a bowl game||@ Rice, FIU, @ UTSA|
|Middle||1-3||Playing for a bowl||@ Tech, CLT, FAU, @ FIU|
|Tech||1-3||Playing for pride/bowl||Middle, @ UTSA, @ CLT, UAB|
|CLT||1-4||Playing for pride||WKU, @ Middle, Tech|