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Scully's 2018 Boca Raton Bowl Free Pick - UAB or NIU?

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December 18th, 2018

Northern Illinois Huskies +2.5 vs University Alabama-Birmingham Blazers 2018 Boca Raton Bowl - Tuesday, December 18th (7pm ET - ESPN)

More than willing to lay this low number with UAB (-2.5), who enters at 10-3 SU due to strong defense and a good ground game (208.8 rushing yards per game). They will cover against a less-than-stellar Northern Illinois, who was arguably the fourth-best team in the MAC but benefited from being in the West division while Buffalo, Ohio and Miami resided in the East.

Northern Illinois fortunate to make the 2018 Boca Raton Bowl, rallying from a huge deficit to clip favored Buffalo, who became complacent in the second half after thoroughly outplaying Northern Illinois for nearly three quarters in the MAC Championship. Northern Illinois trailed by 19 with less than a minute remaining in 3rd quarter before launching dramatic comeback and must avoid any hangover effect against another superior foe.

UAB rates significant edge based upon trends: 8-3 ATS record in last 11games and 8-3 ATS in last 11 games versus teams with winning record. Northern Illinois doesn’t come prepared for bowl games, posting 0-5 ATS mark, and tends to perform poorly in neutral-site games (5-16-1 ATS).

Blazers have the defense to hold low-scoring Northern Illinois in check, allowing only 17.3 points (10th nationally) and 300.2 yards (11th) per game. RB Spencer Brown is the main weapon on offense, scoring 16 TDs behind a senior-laden offensive line, and UAB rushed for 225 yards in Conference USA title game.

Northern Illinois plays solid defense as well but brings an inferior offense to this match-up. Only 16 FBS teams scored fewer points than Northern Illinois, who ranked 114th with 20.7 per game.

UAB one of the best stories in college football. Disbanded in 2014, the program returned last year with a surprising 8-4 regular season campaign but wound up being blown out in the bowl game. Players are on a mission to finish out in 2018 with a celebrated bowl win; lay the points with UAB!

2018 Boca Raton Bowl Free Pick – Bet UAB -2.5 over Northern Illinois!
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