Death Valley is where dreams die, at least according to a once-infamous former LSU coach, but for the UAB football team, there are no dreams to shatter.
There’s only one chance on a late November night in Baton Rouge.
The Blazers end the regular season with a two-game away swing and meet the No. 6 LSU on Saturday, November 19 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
UAB earns a 41-21 win over North Texas and can qualify for the bowl with a win in either of their last two games.
“Really proud of this football team, their character, their leadership, their tenacity to keep going week in and week out, get up, train and play at a high level,” said Vincent. “You look at this senior class, there are guys who have been here since coming back and to finish their career (at home) 29-4 is a big statement. The commitment and the mentality with which this team played at home in Birmingham speaks volumes.”
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The Blazers are 5-5 on the season, with all five losses coming in one-ball games. A total of 27 points separates UAB from a 10-0 record going into their last non-conference game of the season.
“Let’s be honest, that was tough,” Vincent said. “It challenges your character, it challenges your mentality, and this football team has never deviated from that. It’s easy to get negative, it’s easy to point fingers, it’s easy to fall apart, and this football team has never gone astray. We never doubted, we never questioned, we never got negative, and we never stood on the foundation and culture that built this program. It speaks volumes for this staff and for the leadership and character and stamina of this football team.”
In one of the most feared stadiums in the nation, the Blazers take on LSU and the SEC West Division Champion.
The Tigers, as they have been for nearly two decades, are filled to the brim with talent, particularly on defense, but are led by former Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels. The junior threw for 6,025 yards, 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as the Sun Devil and has 2,080 yards, 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions with LSU this season.
In addition to his passing skills, Daniels is an electric ball-in-hand runner and leads LSU this season with 629 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“For the (defensive backs), we’re sticking with the scramble drill and plastering our boys because if we try to stop the run, he can knock us over the top,” said senior cornerback starling Thomas V. “Everyone has to be disciplined stay and play within the scheme and play as a team.”
The overall series is 1-1, the last meeting being a 56-17 win for LSU in 2013, the last season before Bill Clark was hired, but the Blazers can pull off a 13-10 win over the Tigers in Nick Saban’s first year as head coach of LSU.
The stakes for LSU are much higher in the two decades since the loss to UAB, and the Tigers have a potential college football playoff berth at stake if they complete the regular season before the SEC title game. Meanwhile, the Blazers need a win in one of their last two games to qualify for the Bowl and are able to play without fear when entering one of the holier grounds in the Southeast.
“That’s something we’ve talked about as employees,” Vincent said. “We have former players associated with this program who have been on this team. This football team is looking forward to going to Death Valley on a Saturday night and playing a sixth-rate national team that will be playing for the SEC Championship. This football team will look forward to this challenge and this opportunity.”