Game Preview: Birmingham Stallions at Arlington Renegades, Saturday March 30, 2024

  • Birmingham Stallions at Arlington Renegades
  • Saturday March 30, at 12:00 p.m. Central
  • Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, TX
  • Broadcaster: FOX
  • Announcers: Curt Menefee (Play-by-play), Joel Klatt (Analyst), Brock Huard (Sideline Reporter)
  • Odds: Birmingham -3.5, O/U 42.5 (DraftKings)

This will be the first ever matchup between these two franchises in the first ever game of the United Football League. Not to mention this is a “Battle of the Champions” with the Birmingham Stallions coming off of back-to-back USFL Championships in 2022 and 2023 and the Arlington Renegades having defeated the D.C. Defenders 35-26 to win the XFL Championship in 2023, despite going 4-6 in the regular season.

With each league crowning their own champion, many have wondered what would happen if the two teams would play each other for an ultimate champion of spring football. Now, somewhat, we get to witness this.

Regardless, with the United Football League leaning into the rivalry between the USFL and XFL conferences, we’re kicking things off right away with the two champions facing each other.

What should we look for?

Known for his strategic prowess and leadership abilities, Stallions head coach Skip Holtz enters his third season leading the Birmingham Stallions. Holtz has steered the Stallions to remarkable success, clinching two consecutive USFL Championships in 2022 and 2023, solidifying his status as one of the most accomplished coaches in the league. Prior to his tenure with Birmingham, Holtz carved an impressive path in collegiate football coaching as head coach of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, South Florida Bulls, East Carolina Pirates, and the Connecticut Huskies.

For Birmingham, Holtz has now named his starting quarterback in Matt Corral. His backup will be Adrian Martinez with J’Mar Smith waiting in the wings for the time being. In training camp, Corral has looked effective and it’s no surprise the Stallions look to him as the starter.

The revamped Stallions receiver room has familiar faces in Deon Cain and Marlon Williams, but they also acquired Amari Rodgers, Binjimen Victor, Gary Jennings, Kevin Austin, and Isaiah Zuber, formerly of the Houston Gamblers. It will be a target rich environment for Matt Corral. In the back field, CJ Marable is healthy and anxious to get on the field and rack up some yards. We look to him to provide good yard production in this game.

In their defensive front seven, the Stallions now sport talent such as Taco Charlton, DaMarcus Mitchell, and Carlos Davis. Returning to the squad is fan favorite Scooby Wright who will rise to the position as a leader on the defense. Downfield, the Stallions picked up former Pittsburgh Maulers Mark Gilbert, who logged 33 total tackles (29 solo) and led the USFL with four interceptions in 2023. Along with Gilbert, the Stallions will have Nevelle Clarke, Chris Jackson, Ike Brown, and Kenny Robinson attempting to thwart the pass.

On special teams. Birmingham’s 2023 punter Colby Wadman has returned, along with long snapper Ryan Langan. On kicking duties, the Stallions have replaced Brandon Aubrey with Chris Blewitt, who played for the Pittsburgh Maulers in 2023.

Meanwhile, Arlington Renegades Head Coach Bob Stoops is also back for a third season of spring football along with eight members of his coaching staff and a whopping 22 players that were part of the 2023 XFL championship winning roster including game MVP quarterback Luis Perez.

For this game there is no doubt Stoops will turn to Perez as his starting pivot. Perez has done it all, and he has demonstrated success in every team he’s been a part of. When he came to Arlington in 2023, he provided the calm leadership they needed, and threw for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns in the XFL Championship. A retooled Arlington offensive line will be a key for Perez in this game, and it they cannot give him the protection he needs he has shown the ability to slip out of the pocket and throw on the run.

Other notable players returning for Arlington include OL Cameron Hunt, running backs Leddie Brown and De’Veon Smith, wide receivers JaVonta Payton, Caleb Vander Esch, Tyler Vaughns, and LuJuan Winningham, tight end Sal Cannella, defensive linemen DaVonte Lambert and Tomasi Laulile, linebackers Will Clarke, Donald Payne, Bunmi Rotimi, Colin Schooler, and Willie Taylor III, defensive backs Jamal Carter, Darren Evans, and Brandon Rusnak, kicker Taylor Russolino, punter Marquette King, and long snapper Antonio Ortiz. As if that was already not a stacked deck the Renegades added two former Roughnecks who were All-XFL honorees in 2023: wide receiver Deontay Burnett and defensive back Ajene Harris.


With the oddsmakers predicting Birmingham as the favorite in this matchup, it would be easy to say the two-time champion Stallions have this game in hand. They do not lose a lot of games. However this is a new season and they have to go out on the field and prove their mettle once more.

When Arlington took the XFL Championship they had to repeatedly rise to a challenge, first beating the favored Houston Roughnecks for the South Division crown, and then the venerable D.C. Defenders for the XFL Championship. In 2023, they were able to rise to the challenges and win. The big question in this game is whether they have the ability to rise again. There may be enough chinks in the Stallions armor for the Renegades to take advantage of, and chip away a win in this game.

We do know this game will be one to watch, especially considering two of the best head coaches in spring football, Skip Holtz and Bob Stoops, will be on the sidelines.

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