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UAB Wins, USM Upset in First CUSA Pandemic Season

UAB football is built on running the ball well and defending better. They have won 19-straight at Legion Field. Central Arkansas came in with the benefit of having played a game last week against Austin Peay. The Bears gave the Blazers a little bit of a scare, scoring 21 and coming within seven points before the Blazers were too much.

The Blazers pulled away and made it look easy. There are still some questions about the quarterback play but there were some of those same ones the last two seasons also. You might remember that UAB played for the league title in both of those years. The run game is still powerful and the defense is still vicious. The CUSA West division is a little weaker this year and UAB is the runaway favorite to win this thing.

In Hattiesburg, the Jack Abraham-led Golden Eagles were missing a load of talent who decided to sit this season out (and transfer in some cases). They opened against nearby South Alabama, who drove from Mobile, AL on game day. The CBS Sports Network crew made the trip, cladded the booth in COVID-19 preparedness and enjoyed the upset. Jack Abraham had a solid day — throwing for 314 yards on 22/32 passing but didn’t throw a TD. The best news, given his reputation was that he didn’t throw any interceptions either. Tim Jones, his talented wideout, caught six for 39 yards. USM was outgunned 526 to 409 and had trouble getting shot yardage — including in the red zone.

Normally, we’d wax philosophical about what this all means but the truth is that this season may not have a conclusion as we normally experience them. Playing the games without an outbreak is an accomplishment itself.

The crowds were socially distanced and both were outdoors. Depending on the angle of the picture shared it could look like people were packed in more than they probably were. The actual game day experience was always going to be a little more controllable than the rest of the game day experience in the town.

Football is about bringing everyone together and the ancillary stuff is just as important as the on-field stuff. Going to tailgates, watch parties, bars and restaurants is part of the fun. Those things were still shut down and are outside of the control of the conference and the programs.

Notes

  • Frank Gore, Jr made his debut for the Golden Eagles and had a quiet game.
  • USA had a lot of missed field goals and the whole kicking game was terrible
  • USM had a TD called back and had to settle for a field goal. It would have put them ahead. They never recovered after that 13-10 score
  • USM had only 187 yards at half.
  • Ticker on the CBSSports says the earlier note that the Big Ten will revote is false.
  • Spencer Brown is hard to tackle.
  • SB went over 3000 yards rushing at the 10:48 mark of the first quarter.
  • Pac12 commish Larry Scott is happy about the big step of getting daily testing at the end of the month. It would be expensive to implement at CUSA schools. He says they need government approval, still.
  • UAB’s Myron Mitchell looks good as a compliment to Austin Watkins.

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