Week eight of the USFL season is going to be in full swing on Saturday afternoon with six uninterrupted hours of action. Game two of the doubleheader sees the scene shift to its singular hub from last season.
Stars Play Stallions with Playoff Implications This Saturday
Birmingham’s Protective Stadium is the setting for a key contest for both the Philadelphia Stars (4-3) and the Birmingham Stallions (5-2). NBC Sports airs the game at 3 pm ET/ 2 pm CT Saturday.
Saturday’s game marks the first time that Philadelphia and Birmingham have squared off head-to-head since the 2022 USFL Championship Game. On the eve of the 4th of July, the Stallions took the title, 33-30.
If the standings hold, the Stars and Stallions would be in line to play each other this July for the championship.
As previously mentioned in the first breakdown, heading into the eighth weekend of play, Philadelphia could find itself one step closer toward a berth in the June 24-25 USFL Playoffs if the games play out favorably for them. By kickoff time, the Stars will already know if they’re still able to clinch this week.
This is the second step of a three-step process for Philadelphia as it tries to book a spot to postseason play. The playoff picture shows that the Stars would need a Pittsburgh loss in Saturday’s early game to Houston, a win here against Birmingham, and a Sunday loss by New Jersey to get in the playoffs in Canton.
Another Day to Barbecue in Birmingham
If you’re not sick of barbecue just yet from the Memorial Day weekend, the weather forecasts for Birmingham show that Saturday and Sunday will be optimal days to cook up some ribs. High temperatures on Saturday will top out in the low-90s.
A minimal threat of rain is expected for the game. If you have tickets to the game, make sure the seats are in the shade.
Philadelphia Stars vs. Birmingham Stallions Betting Odds
As of early Friday evening, the oddsmakers have the Birmingham Stallions installed as a -6-point favorite on the spread and a -250 favorite on the money line. Philadelphia counters as a +190 underdog on the money line.
The over-under for Saturday’s game is set at 45 1/2 points. If you plan to bet on this or any other game happening in the USFL this week, please wager responsibly.
Look for Cookus to Have a Great Day
In recent weeks, Stars quarterback Case Cookushas improved under center. Earlier on in the season, the Northern Arizona alum’s primary issue was being sacked.
This is something that’s corrected itself in recent weeks. If you take Philadelphia’s last two ballgames into consideration, he’s only been sacked once, last week against Pittsburgh.
With Cookus not having been taken down of late, he managed an 18-of-30 performance through the air with 235 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. Regardless of whatever else happens for him and the Stars the rest of the way, he’s already surpassed last year’s total in passing yards with 1,520 through seven games.
In the entire regular season last year, Cookus threw for only 1,334 yards. If the O-line protects him, he could be within striking distance of 2,000 yards by this time next week.
LaBryan Ray Needs to Bring the Heat
On defense, the Stars were anchored by LaBryan Ray. In his first year with the Philadelphia organization, the defensive end out of Alabamarecorded his first two sacks as a professional last week.
Ray is a man who saw action with the New England Patriotslast preseason but was cut from the roster after the team’s game against theLas Vegas Raiders. With a decent performance again on Saturday, his NFLstock might rise even further.
If he’s able to create pressure up front, he can bring Stallions quarterback Alex McGoughdown with regularity.
Look for McGough to Scramble
Alex McGough proved himself as a dual-threat at QB last week. While he passed for 176 yards and a touchdown, he also showed off his wheels, running for 22 yards on seven carries.
He was sacked three times last Saturday vs. New Orleans,something that he’ll try to correct this coming week. If the pocket collapses around him, he’ll have just a few seconds to try and break free.
Should McGough be unable to find an open wide receiver, he’s got only one option: Take off and run the football. Anything else, he’ll find himself on the turf having given up another sack.
Will Poling Have Another Banner Day?
A week ago, we mentioned that Birmingham linebacker Quentin Polingas the team’s impact player. Last Saturday, he lit up the stat sheet for the second ballgame in a row, making six tackles and sacking New Orleans quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson twice.
Those were Poling’s first sacks since he was a member of the Ohio Bobcats’ football program in 2017. That season, he had five sacks while he was playing his home games at Peden Stadium in Athens.
Case Cookus has been taken down quite often through week seven, so will Poling be able to make him taste turf on Saturday? Watch to find out.
Nobody in the USFL’s South Division will be able to lock up a spot in the playoffs this week, but the Stallions can clinch a winning season if they emerge victorious. This team has been a fun watch all year long. Expect nothing different this time.
Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew enjoys a good game and a better fight. When he's not writing, you can find him playing video games and listening to music.