The 2022-23 college football bowl season gets underway Friday and starts in one of the postseason's most unique settings as UAB and Miami (Ohio) take a trip over international waters for the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau. This matchup features the first-ever meeting between these two programs as well as the last game for UAB as a Conference USA member before it heads to the American Athletic Conference next season.
First founded in 2014, the Bahamas Bowl has more often than not delivered compelling competition to complement the gorgeous, tropical location. Of the seven years the Bahamas Bowl has been played (the game was not held in 2020 due to COVID-19), four have been decided by one score.
The trend started with the inaugural Bahamas Bowl, which featured a 49-48 thriller between Western Kentucky and Central Michigan. The Chippewas scored five touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with the fifth being a last second, multiple-lateral 75-yard touchdown, only the come up short on the 2-point try that would have won the game.
And while last year's finish included fewer laterals a little less last-second drama, the 31-24 Middle Tennessee win against Toledo did see the Blue Raiders overcome a 17-14 halftime deficit with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to come back and win 31-24.
This is the second appearance in the Bahamas Bowl for UAB and the first for Miami. The Blazers were on the losing end of the 2017 Bahamas Bowl against Ohio in what was the first bowl game since the program returned to action after being shut down. UAB is 2-2 in bowl games going back to 2017, while Miami is 1-2 since 2016 in its three appearances under coach Chuck Martin.
How to watch Bahamas Bowl live
Date: Friday, Dec. 16 | Time: 11:30 a.m. ET
Location: Thomas A. Robinson Stadium -- Nassau, Bahamas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
UAB vs. Miami (OH): Need to know
UAB is in a state of transition: UAB coach Bill Clark announced his retirement over the summer due to health concerns that included chronic back problems. Offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Bryant Vincent was named the interim head coach, and when fall camp opened in August, it was the first time since UAB's football program was reinstated that Clark was not the man in charge.
Initially shut down at the end of 2014, Clark's first season as head coach, UAB football was revived thanks in part to Clark's commitment to stay with the program through the 2015 and 2016 seasons. First he was part of the movement to get the program back in action. Then, he was tasked with building out a staff and a roster from scratch. UAB was one of the stories of the season in 2017 as it not only hit the ground running but made the Bahamas Bowl-- just the program's second-ever bowl appearance. It kick-started arguably the winningest run in UAB football history; Clark and the Blazers would go on to win the Conference USA title in 2018 and 2020 and make the Conference USA Championship Game in 2019.
But Vincent, despite leading UAB to wins in two of the final three games of the year to reach bowl eligibility, is not going to be the next full-time coach. That job is going to Trent Dilfer, who is tasked with taking the torch from Clark and Vincent and carrying it on to a new era for the school. UAB is moving from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference prior to the 2023 season, and so the Bahamas Bowl marks the end to several chapters for Blazers football.
DeWayne McBride is one of college football's top RBs: UAB running back DeWayne "Debo" McBride led the entire nation in rushing yards (1,713), and rushing yards per game (155.7) on the way to being named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year. McBride set new individual school records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in a season, while the team as a whole set a new single-season record for rushing yards (2,925). Though it took a late rally to reach bowl eligibility, no one in the conference saw UAB as a middling team. McBride was one of 10 UAB players to earn All-Conference USA honors at the end of the season (five first-team, five second-team). That group includes two running backs, multiple offensive linemen and defensive standouts at all three levels. It was the core of a team that won with physicality at the point of attack and found explosiveness on offense with its elite ground game.
Chuck Martin has established a new standard at Miami: The RedHawks have been bowl eligible in six of the last seven seasons, while from 2006-15 Miami was bowl eligible just twice. This is already a program that has more bowl wins (8) than any other team in the MAC, and though Miami has not been selected for a bowl game in all the years it has been bowl eligible, Martin did lead them to one of those eight victories with a win in the 2021 Frisco Football Classic last season.
In terms of the matchup with UAB, this is clearly a game that will be won at the line of scrimmage. While the Blazers boast a top-10 rushing attack in the nation, they are meeting a run defense for Miami that led the MAC in rushing yards allowed per game (135.8), held four different opponents under 100 rushing yards for game and allowed just 15 rushing touchdowns all season.
Bahamas Bowl prediction, picks
Too many dadgum points for the Bahamas Bowl. Not only is this a bowl game that has set up for one-score results more often than not, but we have a Miami team that has played in close games for more than half of the season. Seven of the 12 games the RedHawks were involved in this season were one-score games, and though Miami went just 4-3 in those situations, all we need is to get a one-score game again and the underdog ticket cashes. Prediction: Miami (OH) +11
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