The 2021 Independence Bowl features the 10-2 BYU Cougars against the 8-4 UAB Blazers. Here is the 2021 Independence Bowl Preview.
BYU Cougars (10-2)
BYU has had two straight double-digit win seasons, finishing the regular season at 10-2. The Cougars have defeated five bowl-eligible teams. Their only losses on the season came to Boise State and Baylor, who both made bowl games.
They have scored 33.7 points per game this season, which ranks 29th in the country. The Cougars pass for 269.8 yards (ranked 26th) and rush for 187.2 yards per game (ranked 40th).
Jaren Hall has taken over at quarterback after Zach Wilson headed to the NFL. He has played well with 2,583 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions on 63.9 percent completion. Five wide receivers have more than 200 receiving yards this season for BYU. Puka Nacua leads the team with 796 receiving yards on 42 receptions for six touchdowns. Gunner Romney and Neil Pu’u each provide good secondary targets with over 500 yards and have three and six touchdown catches respectively.
Tyler Allgeier has become a star at the running back position for the Cougars. For the season, Allgeier has 249 carries for 1,414 yards and 20 touchdowns. Hall has helped out from the quarterback position with 307 yards, but behind Allgeier at running back, Lopini Katoa has produced the most. Katoa has 242 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
The Cougars allow 24.3 points per game, which places them 47th in the country. They concede 235.5 passing yards (ranked 77th) and 151.3 rushing yards per game (ranked 67th). Linebacker Ben Bywater has 93 total tackles to lead the team. Defensive back Kaleb Hayed has made an impact with his 11 passes defended.
UAB Blazers (8-4)
UAB made their fourth bowl game after bringing the program back from the dead in 2017. They had victories over three bowl-eligible teams this season. One of their four losses came to a team that didn’t qualify for a bowl game in Rice.
The Blazers score 29.3 points per game, which ranks 58th in the country. They rush for 176.6 yards (ranked 52nd) and pass for 207.8 yards per game (ranked 91st).
For the majority of the season, Dylan Hopkins has been under center for the Blazers. He has passed for 2,085 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions on 64.2 percent completion. Three pass-catchers have 394 receiving yards or more. Trea Shropshire leads the team in receiving yards with 682 on 25 catches for six touchdowns. Tight end Gerrit Prince has the most touchdown catches on the team with eight and also has 32 catches for 656 yards. RaJae’ Johnson-Sanders has 23 receptions for 394 yards and eight touchdowns to round out their top trio.
Three running backs have produced over 200 rushing yards for the Blazers. Leading the team is DeWayne McBride, who has 1,188 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Jermaine Brown Jr. has helped with 584 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Lucious Stanley has recorded 213 yards and one touchdown.
The defense allows 22.8 points per game, good enough for 41st in the FBS. They give up 104.2 rushing yards (ranked 12th) and 219.2 passing yards per game (ranked 50th). Linebacker Noah Wilder has a team lead in tackles with 86. Alex Wright and Justin Thomas lead the team in sacks with six and 4.5 respectively.
UAB has done solidly over the last few seasons, but BYU has truly taken their program to another level. Expect Allgeier to help the offense break down that UAB defense during the game. The Cougars’ will be too much for the Blazers in the end.
BYU Cougars 41 UAB Blazers 29
Make sure to check out our college football page for more content like 2021 Independence Bowl Preview!