UAB-UNT five things

UAB head coach Bill Clark coaches his team from the sideline. North Texas will host the Blazers in their season finale on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas will close out its season on Saturday when it hosts UAB at Apogee Stadium. 

The Mean Green saw their bowl hopes extinguished last week in a 20-14 loss to Rice that dropped them to 4-7 on the season. UAB is 8-3.

Here are five things UNT fans should know about the Blazers:

1. UAB has a ton on the line in its game against UNT

The race for spots in the C-USA title game has become a bit of a mess. Three teams in each division are still in the hunt, including UAB in the West, where the Blazers, Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss are all 5-2.

There's no point in going over the entire tiebreaker landscape considering UNT is out of the race, but the bottom line makes this weekend's game huge for UAB.

The Blazers can win the West by knocking off UNT, if Southern Miss falls at Florida Atlantic. The Owls have won four straight and Southern Miss quarterback Jack Abraham might not be ready to go after being knocked out of a loss to Western Kentucky.

Bottom line -- The Blazers are going to head into this game thinking their chances of returning to the C-USA title game are there for the taking. UAB is going to be highly motivated.

2. The demise of UAB was greatly overestimated

UAB won the C-USA title game last season but was picked to finish fourth in the league's West Division after being hit hard by graduation.

The Blazers returned just three starters from a unit that finished ninth nationally last season in total defense.

The Blazers haven't missed a beat under coach Bill Clark, who has quickly reloaded this season. Clark was named CBS National Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons for the job he's done reviving UAB's program that was temporarily shut down.

UAB didn't field a team in 2015 or 2016.

Clark is among the contenders for Coach of the Year honors in Conference USA this season.

3. UAB could get Tyler Johnston back this week

UAB has played its last three games without starting quarterback Tyler Johnston III after he sprained his knee in a loss to Tennessee. He could make his return this week against UNT.

Johnston is averaging 237.8 passing yards per game. The Blazers have gotten along just fine without him, thanks to backup Dylan Hopkins.

The freshman threw for 185 yards and a touchdown last week in a key win over Louisiana Tech.

4. UAB has a terrific defensive front

UNT coach Seth Littrell called UAB's defensive front is the best it has faced all season.

The Blazers play three defensive tackles who range from 290 to 335 pounds and two linebacker/ends who are also big and athletic

UAB is allowing just 98.8 rushing yards and 18.3 points per game. The Blazers have 87 tackles for loss and 36 sacks on the season.

5. UAB has an old-school approach offensively

UAB is not one of the higher scoring teams in C-USA. The Blazers are averaging 25.0 points per game.

Littrell said UAB will pound away at UNT's defense with its running game and then try to hit the big play in the passing game. The Blazers are averaging 157.2 rushing yards per game behind five players who are all averaging at least 24 yards per game on the ground.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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