UAB vs. Northern Illinois score: Blazers cap off dream season with dominant Boca Raton Bowl win

Two years ago, UAB didn't play a single game. The program was operating after the ill-fated shutdown following the 2014 season, but wasn't playing games. The thought of posting the best season in program history two seasons later was the football equivalent of a dream. That dream came true on Tuesday night when the Blazers topped Northern Illinois 37-13 in the Boca Raton Bowl. It's the first bowl win in program history and caps off an 11-3 season -- the first double-digit win campaign in program history.

Tyler Johnston III threw for 373 yards and four touchdowns, wide receiver Xavier Ubosi caught seven passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns and the Blazers defense held the Huskies to just 287 yards in one of the most dominating performances of the young bowl season. Johnston and Ubosi got things started early when they hooked up on a 70-yard touchdown, and the Blazers never looked back.

It's a fitting way for coach Bill Clark to cap off his third season at the helm and second since the shutdown. The Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year stuck with the program through the shutdown, motivated his players to stay hungry while they practiced for a full year without playing any games and led it to two straight bowl berths, the 2018 Conference USA championship and a season for the ages. 

What's even more special about this team is how much it means to Clark. A native of Anniston, Alabama, Clark graduated from Jacksonville State and has spent his entire coaching career coaching in the state. After five stops at the high school ranks, he went to South Alabama as its defensive coordinator in 2008 -- one year before the startup program played its first ever game. He then went on to coach his alma mater for one season prior to going to UAB in 2014.

This isn't just a dream season, it's Clark's dream. An Alabama lifer just orchestrated one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college football history. It's proof that, if you try hard enough, dreams do come true. 

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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