On October 8, 2011 the Bulldogs will take on the UAB Blazers at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The game time is set for 11:00 a.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports South.
In 2010 the Bulldogs were fresh off an emotional win in Gainesville against the Florida Gators. Most MSU fans viewed the game against UAB on the schedule as an easy victory that would launch the Dawgs into bowl eligibility. Of course if you watched the game last year you, like many other Bulldog fans, were probably sweating, cursing, and scratching your head during the fourth quarter when UAB took a 24-23 lead.
The Bulldogs managed to pull off a 29-24 win (Thank goodness for Derek DePasquale!), but even more importantly the game was huge for the confidence of the team. I realize it was only UAB, but the Bulldogs never seemed rattled when they found their backs against the wall in the fourth quarter. They kept their compsure and did what was necessary to bring the win home. That cool, calm, and collected attitude was not something the Bulldogs displayed in years past when they found themselves in a slugfest late in the fourth quarter. I believe that game, as ugly as it was, could be viewed as a positive turning point for the Dawgs.
It's a safe bet that the Bulldogs aren't taking the Blazers for granted this year...more after the jump.
UAB is returning 16 starters from 2010. Bryan Ellis, is returning and make no mistake about the fact that he is a dangerous quarterback that can make plays. He fought through injuries last year and still managed to throw 25 touchdowns. To make matters worse, the offensive line is returning with four of their five starters. This experienced offense put up over 5,000 yards last year. Look for them to be good both running and throwing the ball in 2011. This Blazer offense will be a bigger test for the Bulldog defense than a lot of "experts" want to admit.
Moving on to the defense, all of the UAB secondary is returning from a season ago, but believe it or not that is actually good news for the Bulldogs. The Blazer secondary of last year was ranked 104th out of 120 teams. In other words, they really sucked. Rest assured they'll suck again this year.
The Bulldogs have a lot of options running the ball and its a good thing too. The most positive thing about the UAB defense is probably their ability to stop the run. I'm not saying they'll handle the likes of Ballard, Relf, and Perkins, but they certainly have guys like Marvin Burdette and Elliot Henigan that are capable of stopping them. If MSU finds a way to run around those guys expect the Dawgs to put a lot of points on the board.
Another major issue facing UAB is lack of depth. The Bulldogs roll into Birmingham near the midway point of the season. There will be ample time for the Blazers to rack up a few injuries by then and if it happens, it'll be a huge problem for them. They simply don't have that much talent sitting on the bench.
The bottom line is that the Bulldogs should win this game in convincing fashion. But of course a lot of people believed that last year too.