What a wild night in Tulsa! UAB opened the Conference USA slate in a shootout with the Golden Hurricane, and the stat monitors are in desperate need of a rest. The teams combined for 54 first downs, 68 points, 168 snaps and 1098 total yards. Despite the loss, there were some bright spots for Neil Callaway's team. The offense racked up season highs in points (30), touchdowns (3) and total yards (403). Missed opportunities hurt the Blazers' chances for coming away with a huge road win the conference, but we saw, once again, the tremendous amount of fight that coach Callaway has helped instill in his squad. The defense had a tough time getting a handle on Tulsa's no-huddle spread attack, but Will Dunbar totaled 13 tackles and now leads the nation with 13.67 tackles per game.
Now we move on to the final non-conference game of the year, and with it comes a trip to SEC country. The Green and Gold will make the short trip to Starkville this Saturday to face the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. It will be the 12th game against one of the nation's premier leagues, and UAB looks for its third win against Southeastern Conference competition. We all remember the first victory...2000...purple and gold...Baton Rouge...hold that Tiger! Win number two came four years later...2004...Homecoming...Starkville...they needed more cowbell. Let's hope for a repeat in 2007.
It's Homecoming at Mississippi State this Saturday, and UAB would love to play spoiler once again at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. The Bullies have lost two of their last three Homecoming tilts, and the Maroon and White are coming off a loss at South Carolina last weekend. Sylvester Croom's team is banged up, especially at quarterback, and the 'Dawgs will play host to the Tennessee Vols next Saturday.
While State competes in the SEC and UAB is a member of Conference USA, the two programs share a lot in common, so we'll have plenty of stories to follow this week and on Saturday. There are plenty of ties between the two coaching staffs...too many to list here. There are 15 Alabamians on the MSU roster, and three Mississippi natives wear the Green and Gold. Then there's Brandon Thornton, the former Mississippi State running back, who is now playing for his hometown team. Thornton transferred to UAB prior to this season and received a special "family emergency" waiver from the NCAA to be eligible this year.
It's a short drive, and I hope to see lots of Blazer fans in the seats in Starkville. The players would certainly appreciate some friendly faces in the midst of all the cowbells, outlawed, of course, and I'm sure will not be heard a single time inside the stadium...I almost made it through that line without laughing out loud. State is looking to go 4-2 for the first time in seven years; meanwhile, UAB is trying to pick up its second win of the season and wrap up the brutal start to the schedule (four of the first five on the road) with a huge victory in hostile territory.
If you've never been to the MSU campus, take advantage of the opportunity. Starkville is a "quaint" little town. The State fans are a relatively friendly bunch (as long as you don't wear red & blue and yell "Hotty Totty"). Scott Field is a good setting for a football game (not too big, not too small), especially if you like fried pickles and chicken on a stick. They have a good fight song (always crucial in college sports), and they have outstanding cheese for sale on campus (seriously).
There is no live television for this Saturday's game. CSS will show the game on a tape-delayed basis, so check your local listings for time and channel in your area. The Blazers ISP Sports Network will be on the air beginning at Noon on Saturday, and kickoff is slated for 1:30 PM.
Go Blazers...let's spoil another Homecoming in Starkvegas!