UAB faces Ohio, seeks first-ever bowl win in second try

Bahamas Bowl: UAB (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4), Friday, Dec. 22, 12:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Line: Ohio by 7.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The Blazers had their best year as an FBS team, restarting the program after a two-year hiatus from competition and winning a school-record eight games. A victory in only their second-ever bowl game would do wonders for recruiting. Ohio had a strong season in the Mid-American Conference and a victory would give the Bobcats their first bowl win since 2012. They have lost their last three.

KEY MATCHUP

The Ohio defense against UAB’s run game. The Bobcats held five opponents to under 70 yards rushing and the Blazers rank second in Conference USA with 27 rushing TDs and have had at least two rushing touchdowns in all but two games this season. UAB TB Spencer Brown, named Conference USA freshman of the year (1,292 yards rushing, 10 TDs), has excelled in the Blazers’ victories, averaging 125 yards rushing but averaged only 72 yards in their four losses.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

UAB: Senior CB Darious Williams finished the regular season ranked second nationally in passes defended with 20 (1.7/game) and led Conference USA in both interceptions (five) and pass breakups (15).

Ohio: QB Nathan Rourke passed for 2,018 yards and 15 TDs, and rushed for 1,032 yards and 21 TDs. He needs one more touchdown to tie the school record for touchdowns responsible for.

FACTS & FIGURES

UAB QB A.J. Erdely accounted for 29 touchdowns in the regular season, 16 passing and 13 rushing, and completed 61.8 percent of his passes with four interceptions. … Ohio LB Quentin Poling, who will be playing his final game for the Bobcats, ranks 10th in school history with 370 career tackles and needs 18 to move into a tie with Scott Zele (1990-92). … UAB ranks 18th nationally in red zone offense, scoring 34 TDs in 45 trips inside their opponents’ 20. … The Blazers are tied for seventh nationally in third-down conversion percentage at 47.6 (81 for 170). … Ohio has scored a school-record 467 points this season and is the only FBS program in the country to have had the same head coach, offensive and defensive coordinator over the past 12 years. … The Bahamas Bowl is the first postseason FBS bowl game outside the United States or Canada between two U.S. teams since the 1937 Bacardi Bowl in Havana, Cuba.

More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25