The Central Arkansas Bears will try to build on a big win in their opener when they take on the UAB Blazers on Thursday night at Legion Field. Central Arkansas beat fellow FCS playoff team Austin Peay in the division’s kickoff game Saturday, while this is FBS foe UAB’s season opener. The Blazers went 9-5 and were 6-2 in Conference USA last season and had one of the top defenses in the country. Central Arkansas, the defending Southland co-champion, has a top-flight passing game led by all-conference quarterback Breylin Smith.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET in Birmingham, Ala. UAB is an 18.5-point favorite and the over-under for total points scored is 48 in the latest Central Arkansas vs. UAB odds. Before making your UAB vs. Central Arkansas picks, be sure to see the college football predictions from SportsLine’s Emory Hunt.
Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis for all levels of football since 2007, and he is a former running back at Louisiana-Lafayette. He knows the game from a player’s and coach’s perspective.
The football analyst was SportsLine’s No. 1 college football expert last season. Hunt went 116-79 on college football picks against the spread in 2019, returning a huge profit of $2,976 to his followers. He capped off the year with LSU -5.5 over Clemson in the national championship. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
- Central Arkansas vs. UAB spread: UAB -18.5
- Central Arkansas vs. UAB over-under: 48 points
- UCA: QB Breylin Smith threw for at least 283 yards in eight games last year.
- UAB: The Blazers are 18-0 at home, and 28-13 overall, since the program was resuscitated before the 2017 season.
Why Central Arkansas can cover
Central Arkansas’ offense can really air it out, and Smith and fellow All-Southland pick Lujuan Winningham are an elite combination. They hooked up for a 10-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left in the 24-17 win against Austin Peay, and Smith threw for 283 yards while Winningham caught six balls for 80 yards and a score in that game. Smith threw for 3,704 yards last season with 32 touchdown passes as the Bears ranked 16th in FCS in passing offense.
Tyler Hudson had five catches for 82 yards in the opener after hauling in 55 for 975 yards and 12 TDs to earn Southland Freshman of the Year honors in 2019. The Bears also got a nice surprise from running back Kierre Crossley, who ran for 110 yards on 12 carries and a TD against Austin Peay.
Why UAB can cover
The Blazers have the defense to make some noise in Conference USA after sharing the West division title in 2019. The unit ranked eighth in FBS in total defense, allowing 301.9 yards per game, with just 183.6 through the air. UAB’s defense ranked third in the nation in allowing opponents to convert on third down just 28.3 percent of the time. The Blazers return 18 starters from a team that will close out its run at Legion Field this year.
The defense is led by linebacker Kristopher Moll, who had 104 tackles and nine sacks in 2019, and defensive end Jordan Smith, who had 10 sacks. Smith and Moll each forced four fumbles, and the unit also will be bolstered by the return of star defensive back Brontae Harris, who missed last season with a foot injury. Quarterback Tyler Johnston III leads an offense that was explosive at times last year, when he threw for 2,250 yards and 17 touchdowns.
How to make UAB vs. Central Arkansas picks
Hunt is leaning over on the total, and he’s also found a critical x-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Central Arkansas vs. UAB? And which critical x-factor has Hunt jumping all over one side of the spread? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the UAB vs. Central Arkansas spread to jump on Thursday, all from the expert who was up almost $3,000 last season on college football picks, and find out.
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