The Michigan Panthers will take on the Birmingham Stallions in the USFL Division Championship on Saturday after narrowly losing to the Stallions in week 10 by a score of 19-20. It was a strong game for the Panthers’ defense that held Adrian Martinez to just 163 passing yards with 1 touchdown. Michigan seemed to have found a formula to give themselves a good chance to beat Birmingham last week as they had 324 total yards to Birmingham’s 223.

Game Details:

Date/Location: Saturday, June 8 /Protective Stadium, Birmingham, AL
Kickoff Time: 3 PM ET, 12 AM PT
Channel: ABC

If you do place bets please do so responsibly and seek help if you have a gambling problem.

Spread: Michigan +5 (-115), Birmingham -5 (-105)

Moneyline: Michigan +220, Birmingham -270

Over/Under: 43 (Over -110, Under -110)

Michigan Panthers (7-3):

Danny Etling will be getting the start at quarterback. Etling completed 16 of his 31 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown and added 36 rushing yards. He looked sharp overall although some of his throws did not have the level of accuracy which we saw earlier in the season which could be partially due to recent time missed due to an injury. Brian Lewerke will be the 2nd string quarterback in place of Bryce Perkins who was injured last week.

Nate McCrary will get the start at running back again this week after rushing 8 times for 36 yards last week (4.5 average). Matthew Colburn II is back in the lineup listed as a 2nd-string running back after missing last week to injury.

Birmingham Stallions (9-1):

The Stallions narrowly avoided losing 2 games in a row last week after having a 15-game winning streak broken by the San Antonio Brahmas in week 9.

Adrian Martinez will be getting the start at quarterback for the Stallions. Last week he completed 14 of his 28 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown and added 41 rushing yards. Running back Ricky Person Jr. is back in the lineup for the Stallions and will get the start after missing last week. He finished 7th in the league in rushing yards over the regular season rushing 93 times for 297 yards (3.19 average) and 6 touchdowns.

Panthers Keys to the Game

Don’t Let Adrian Martinez Play His Style of Football

One of the things that makes Adrian Martinez dangerous at quarterback is his ability to pick up large chunks on the ground with his legs. Michigan needs to get pressure on him while also keeping him contained in the pocket. He has had a good season passing the football but at times there have been some balls placed in questionable areas. If Michigan can keep his scrambling in check and take away that part of his game it could get the young QB frazzled to a degree.

Stop the Run

Last week C.J. Marable rushed 10 times for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns. While Michigan’s defense made some good run stops they will want to make sure that there is less success on the ground for Birmingham this week.

Accuracy and Bravery From Danny Etling

Michigan is going to need good accuracy from Danny Etling even when pressured. Birmingham has the best pass rush in the UFL. This is going to be a difficult test to be the quarterback against them in the playoffs in 

Strong Run Game

Michigan needs to run the football well in this game and possibly often. Birmingham is a very dangerous team and the Panthers will greatly increase their chances if they can have a strong possession time in this game while also wearing out the Stallions defense by pounding the rock.

Great Blocking From the Offensive Tackles

Birmingham has a star-studded group of defensive ends. Michigan will need much better pass protection than they had last week.

5 Panthers to Watch

#14 WR Siaosi Mariner

Mariner has 27 receptions for 346 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season since joining the Panthers early into the season. Last week he caught 7 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.

#9 WR Marcus Simms

Simms is back in the lineup for the Panthers after missing time due to injury. He leads the team in receiving yards and recorded 23 receptions fro 426 yards and 3 touchdowns over the regular season.

#10 DT Walter Palmore

Palmore finished with the highest defensive grade on the Panthers per Pro Football Focus. He had 10 solo tackles, 8 assisted tackles. While he did not have a high amount of sacks he did have 16 total pressures per PFF and was a tremendous run-stopper.

#57 DE Breeland Speaks

Breeland Speaks was named the UFL’s Defensive Player of the Year following the regular season. Speaks led the league over the regular season in sacks with 9.5.

#55 DT Garrett Marino

Marino had a strong outing last week recording 3 tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. 2 of his tackles were run stops.

5 Stallions to Watch

#12 TE Jace Sternberger

Sternberger led the team in receiving last week as he had 2 catches for 53 yards with 1 touchdown. He is the team’s leading receiver with 25 catches for 454 yards and 4 touchdowns over the regular season.

#31 OLB Kyahva Tezino

Tezino had a strong game last week which saw him record 5 total tackles and defend a pass. He assisted on 3 run stops and assisted on another stop against a short pass last week.

#99 DE Dondrea Tillman

Dondrea Tillman was a problem for Michigan last week. Last week he had 0 total pressures per PFF. He has 44 total pressures on the season and 3 sacks. He was the highest-grade defensive player by PFF this past season.

#50 DE Jonathan Garvin

Garvin was the third-highest-graded defensive player by PFF this season. He had 34 total pressures and 4 sacks.

#54 DE Taco Charlton

Charlton is another dangerous defensive end on Birmingham’s roster. He had 34 total pressures and 7 sacks total this season per PFF.

Depth Charts, Injuries, Inactives

Score Prediction:

The Panthers have lost 2 very close games to Birmingham this season. They lost by only 1 point last week in a game in which quarterback Danny Etling was still getting back into the rhythm of things. Receiver Marcus Simms and runningback Matthew Colburn II are back in the lineup for the USFL Championship to bolster the offensive arsenal. I just have a hunch that the Panthers are going to find a way to win this game.

I predict Michigan to beat Birmingham 26-20.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink
Jonathan Clink will work as UFL News Hub's primary correspondent covering the Michigan Panthers for the 2024. He has written over 250 articles covering the Canadian Football League prior to joining UFL News Hub. Clink is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has a background in several other sports as well having played soccer, basketball, and hockey competitively.

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