Matchup: FAU (4-4, 3-1 AAC) @ UAB (2-6, 1-3 AAC)
When: Saturday, November 4th, 3:00 PM
Where: Protective Stadium
Radio: FoxSports 640
Opening Line: FAU +1
Weather Forecast: Current conditions in Birmingham, AL
The Series: This will be the Owls' 10th matchup in program history against UAB, going 6-3 in their nine previous encounters. FAU is 6-7 all-time against AAC opponents.
UAB Team Site: Here
The Owls are two wins away from clinching bowl eligibility for the first time since 2019.
FAU is making significant progress in being victorious on the road with two wins at this point of the season, something they haven't done from 2020 to 2022. It is a solid step in the right direction that they are showing the ability to emerge victorious away from Howard Schnellenberger Field.
They now look ahead to their road contest against UAB, which would not only present a chance to have three road wins in a season for the first time since 2019, but would also give the Owls an opportunity to get their first win at UAB in 10 years. Last season's matchup at Boca Raton displayed a back-and-forth battle from both sides until FAU pulled away with the 24-17 victory.
One player who is quickly coming up the ranks as one of the Owls' most effective options has been quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. (pictured via FAU Athletics). Being the backup to Daniel Richardson, Johnson Jr. has showcased astounding mobility with his speed and athleticism as he outruns defenders at a moment's notice, accumulating up to 45 yards and a touchdown on five carries en route to FAU's blowout win over Charlotte.
"Mike has proven every time he stepped on the field that he makes smart decisions, he protects the football, and he makes plays. But that doesn't just happen on Saturdays. Mike is in here studying his ass off, Mike is a leader on the field, and Mike prepares very diligently," head coach Tom Herman said.
Wide receiver Lajohntay Wester is back on track with the historic season he's having, closing in on another program record. His next catch will make him the all-time leader in receptions made in a single season, passing Lucky Whitehead in the process.
Linebacker Jackson Ambush is expected to play against UAB despite nursing a sprained ankle at Charlotte, but one could expect the likes of linebacker Desmond Tisdol, defensive lineman Evan Anderson, and safety Amari Wansley to be heavily involved as well. Tisdol has 41 tackles (24 solo) with a pass breakup to his name, Anderson recorded a season-high eight tackles (three solo) including a sack against the 49ers, and Wansley has stepped up immensely in the Owls' secondary with 30 tackles (17 solo) and a pass breakup to show for it.
After this matchup, FAU returns home to Boca Raton as they take on the East Carolina Pirates on November 11th at 4:00 PM. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Star Watch: RB Larry McCammon III With UAB allowing the ninth-most rushing yards per game in the country with 201.1, this could provide a huge opportunity for McCammon III to have his best game. He rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in FAU's 22-point victory over Charlotte. McCammon III currently has 539 yards on 111 rushes in seven games this season, as he looks to expose a vulnerable run defense.
Final Word The Owls continue to maintain their consistency in splitting between the run and the pass, allowing the likes of Larry McCammon III and Lajohntay Wester to flourish with either option. They have gotten better with defending on third downs, as proven with the way they only conceded four successful conversions on 18 attempts from Charlotte.
With UAB being flawed defensively, particularly with preventing third-down conversions and allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete more of their passes, it is possible that the Owls' offense could explode when given the chance.
Key Stats Comparison
Coming off a bye week, the UAB Blazers should hope the extra week of rest gives them the upper hand against FAU.
Going 1-3 in AAC Play with their only win being a 56-35 rout over USF, UAB has struggled to score more than 23 points in their losses to Tulane, UTSA, and Memphis.
Their last game against the Tigers does have an asterisk, as starting quarterback Jacob Zeno was out due to a concussion. To their luck, Zeno will be back in time for Saturday's matchup.
As one of the team's veteran players, Zeno is crucial to how the Blazers' offense could perform this weekend. This season, he has thrown for 1,905 yards (39th in the nation) and 12 touchdowns. With an accuracy rate of 74.4%, UAB receivers can be optimistic about having a fruitful afternoon with Zeno at the helm.
Three Blazers have 200 or more receiving yards: Amare Thomas, Tejuan Palmer, and running back Jermaine Brown Jr. Thomas leads the team in catches with 38 for 354 yards, Palmer tops the receiving yards category with 430, and Brown Jr. displays his ability to both run and catch the ball with 271 yards on 26 receptions to show for it.
What FAU will need to look out for from UAB's defense is outside linebacker Michael Moore, who made a career-high 12 tackles against Memphis. He leads the team in total tackles with 52 (28 solo), while outside linebacker Desmond Little has the most tackles for loss with 5.5 and sacks with 3.5.
After this matchup, the Blazers will head up to Maryland to face Navy on November 11th at 3:30 PM. The contest will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Star Watch: RB Jermaine Brown Jr. With nine rushing touchdowns to his name, Brown Jr. presents himself as UAB's top running back. He is a few weeks removed from winning AAC Player of the Week when he ran for 116 yards and four touchdowns against USF on October 7th. In eight games this season, he has 410 rushing yards on 83 carries. He was also named on the Doak Walker Award Watch List, Maxwell Award Watch List, Hornung Award Watch List, and Preseason First Team All-Conference by PFF, Phil Steele and Athlon Sports.
Final Word A crystal-clear weakness for UAB is their scoring defense, allowing the fourth-most points in the country with 37.6 per game. Like FAU, they provide even distribution to their runs and passes to give the offense multiple options to find opportunities for potential scores. Protecting the quarterback will also have to be a priority for the Blazers, having conceded 21 so far this year which is the fifth-most in the conference.