The college football season concluded last Monday with the National Championship. Throughout a football season, there are two major teams that share the spotlight in the state of Alabama. They are of course Auburn and Alabama. However, there is one team that is trying to earn its spot in the limelight. That team hails from Birmingham, Alabama and plays in Conference USA. By now you may have guessed the team I am referring to is the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB). The 2019 UAB Blazers built off last year’s Cinderella season with another solid performance. With the 2019 football season in the rear-view mirror, let us look at how UAB got to where they are today.
It was not but five seasons ago the UAB lost their football team. The Blazers did not field a team in 2015 or 2016. UAB returned to football in 2017 and posted an 8-4 record. As a result, the Blazers clinched a berth in the Bahamas Bowl. UAB would go on to lose that game finishing the season 8-5. 2018 was a special season for the Blazers. UAB not only won their division in Conference USA, but the Blazers won the conference championship game too. UAB defeated Middle Tennessee to capture the team’s first conference championship. The magical season concluded with a Boca Raton Bowl victory. Due to success in 2018, the Blazers finished the season 11-3.
2019 figured to bring similar success for the UAB football program. The Blazers began 2019 3-0 with wins over Alabama State, Akron, and South Alabama. UAB suffered a setback in week four to conference opponent Western Kentucky. After the week four loss, the Blazers recovered to win their next three conference games. UAB then loss back to back games against Tennessee and Southern Miss.
With the Conference USA West division on the line, the Blazers rallied to win their last three conference games. By virtue of their head to head win against Louisiana Tech, UAB clinched back to back berths in the Conference USA title game. This time, however, the Blazers were defeated by Florida Atlantic. The 2019 season ended on a sour note in the New Orleans Bowl. Appalachian State defeated UAB 31-17 after UAB held a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Even with the two-game losing streak, the Blazers recorded a 9-4 mark in 2019.
If history has shown us anything, it is Head Coach Bill Clark has done a phenomenal job turning this UAB program around. Before coach Clark arrived, the highest win total the Blazers had posted was nine. UAB had also only made one bowl game in the program’s history. It came in the 2004 Hawaii Bowl. Hawaii beat the Blazers 59-40. Coach Clark has established a solid foundation and UAB looks to be a heavy contender in Conference USA for years to come.
The 2020 schedule sees UAB face New Mexico State, Alabama A&M, Miami (FL) and South Alabama in the non-conference. In addition, the conference schedule features home games against UTSA, Western Kentucky, North Texas, and Southern Miss. The away conference schedule includes Rice, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion, and UTEP. The Conference USA West division certainly looks like the weaker of the two divisions. If the Blazers can defend their home field and steal their fair share of games on the road, there is no reason why UAB will not be in the Conference USA title game again.
A 9-10 win season is certainly possible for Coach Clark and company. UAB hopes to continue its recent success and put together another dream season in 2020. The state of Alabama is no longer a two-team state. If Coach Clark stays at UAB, watch for the Blazers to continue to make history with their football program.
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