Game Preview: Birmingham Stallions at Michigan Panthers, Sunday April 7 , 2024

  • Birmingham Stallions (1-0) at Michigan Panthers (1-0)
  • Sunday April 7 , 2024 at 12:00 PM ET (11:00AM CT)
  • Ford Field, Detroit, MI
  • Tickets: Ticketmaster and Stubhub
  • Broadcaster: ESPN
  • Announcers: Lowell Galindo (Play-by-play), Tom Luginbill (Analyst), Harry Douglas (Sideline analyst), Kayla Burton (Sideline reporter)
  • Odds: Stallions -6.5, O/U 41.5 (DraftKings)

The Birmingham Stallions ride into Ford Field with an eight-game winning streak dating back to last season (postseason included). Would they be able to continue this streak past week 2 of the 2024 UFL season?

Last season in the USFL, the Michigan Panthers only won one of their five games while playing at Ford Field. This season, they have already equaled that total by winning their opening game against the St. Louis Battlehawks. A win this week would create a new high-water-mark for the Panthers at home.

What do we know?

The back-to-back USFL champion Birmingham Stallions won their Week 1 matchup 27-14 against the Arlington Renegades. Former Carolina Panther Matt Corral made his first career start for the Stallions, leading them to victory with 201 passing yards, 25 rushing yards and one touchdown. C.J. Marable and Ricky Person Jr. tandemed the backfield for Birmingham. They combined for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Deon Cain was their leading receiver, tallying three receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.

In his first game as Stallions quarterback, Matt Corral did not take long to get into a groove, taking only a few drives to look like he had been doing the job much longer. Corral was solid, throwing only one interception that could not be blamed on carelessness on his part. Backup quarterback Adrian Martinez showed a remarkable ability to run the ball, but was injured in game 1. According to head coach Skip Holtz he should be available for their week 2 game.

On defense, in their previous game, the Stallions applied significant pressure on Luis Perez, especially in the second half. They probably need to make adjustments now that they face a more mobile quarterback in E.J. Perry.

In week 1, Michigan Panthers quarterback E.J. Perry threw 12 passes on 24 attempts for 176 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He managed to spread the ball around with nine different Michigan receivers catching a pass in the game, but no one made more than two receptions. Wes Hills had a great day, leading all rushers with 85 yards on 11 attempts in his first game as a Panther.

In a defensive display, the 16 points the Panthers allowed the Battlehawks last week are the fewest points ever allowed by Michigan while playing at Ford Field. Essentially, the Panthers stout defense picked up where they left off last season. Michigan held the potent St. Louis passing attack to 199 total yards. Breeland Speaks made an impact early, tallying his first sack of the 2024 campaign on A.J. McCarron to force a St. Louis third-and-long. Safety Kai Nacua led the game with 11 tackles, including a sack and two tackles-for-loss, and Daniel Wise collected a game-high two sacks in his first game as a Panther.

Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates kicked his way into football history after drilling a 64-yard field goal with three seconds left in the game, essentially stunning the Battlehawks with a final seconds win. Bates is now tied for the second longest field goal in professional football history, only behind Justin Tucker’s 66-yard field goal, which he connected on in 2021 at Ford Field.

What should we look for?

They came into the UFL as the defending, back-to-back USFL champions, and the Birmingham Stallions have already put out notice that they are the team to beat in the UFL. Last week, the Arlington Renegades kept it interesting until the second half, when the Stallions defense stepped up their game and shut down their opponent. Former NFL third-round pick Matt Corral did his part in the win, throwing for 201 yards, one touchdown and an interception, but he only completed 57.1% of his passes. Consider this as first game jitters, and we should look to Corral to expand his statistics this weekend.

The Panthers struggled throughout most of their game with the Battlehawks. However, they eked out a win with a seemingly impossible field goal from Jake Bates, a kicker nobody gave any credit to until he stepped up and made a 64-yarder. The Panthers passing game under quarterback E.J. Perry left much to be desired, but the Panthers, led by running back Wes Hills. managed to run the ball for 112 yards and two touchdowns. It was actually Perry who scored the rushing touchdowns, while Hills did the work, leading the team with 85 yards on 11 carries.

While the Michigan Panthers showed they have talent, and are certainly better than a year ago, Birmingham has already demonstrated they are the same powerhouse they were in the past two years.

For these reasons, oddsmakers have given the nod to Birmingham in this game.

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