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
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