Last week, the Stallions dropped their contest against the Houston Gamblers, who have won three straight while Birmingham has lost two of its last three. They’ve slipped to third in FOX Sports’ USFL power rankings, but with the New Orleans Breakers losing their first game last weekend, the South remains wide open.
And if the South is wide open, the North is gridlocked … between all four teams. Each North squad is 2-3, so the Panthers could gain some serious ground by getting their first win at home.
Can the Stallions get back on the horse?
While both teams have shown flashes this season, the Stallions find themselves facing a crucial juncture as they look to get their offense back on track. All eyes will be on quarterback Alex McGough as he shoulders the responsibility of igniting the Stallions' scoring machine once again.
For Birmingham, offensive struggles have become an unfortunate theme in recent weeks. After a promising start to the season, the Stallions' production has sputtered. In their first three games, the Stallions averaged an impressive 28 points per contest, but over the past two weeks, their scoring output has dropped to a paltry 14 points per game. It's clear that a spark is desperately needed to reignite their offensive firepower.
This is where McGough comes into the picture. The former NFL signal-caller was expected to be the catalyst for the Stallions' success this season, showcasing his arm talent and ability to extend plays with his legs. McGough completed 24 of 37 passes for 209 yards and rushed for 76 with two TDs in last weekend's loss. If he keeps that up, the Stallions could be right back in the race for the South division.
Michigan still looking for its first win at Ford Field
The Panthers find themselves in a precarious position as they continue to search for their first win at home. With the Stallions coming to town, the Panthers are hoping to finally deliver victory in front of their hometown fans. However, an ongoing quarterback competition between Josh Love and Carson Strong adds an extra layer of intrigue to this crucial matchup.
Love and Strong have both had their moments, but inconsistency has plagued their performances. Head coach Mike Nolan finds himself in a delicate balancing act, trying to determine which quarterback gives the team the best chance to secure that elusive home victory.
Love started Week 5 before he was pulled toward the end of the first half. This had happened in multiple weeks before, with Strong coming in for a drive before Love resumed his post under center in the second half. Last week, that wasn’t the case. Strong came in towards the end of the first half and then stayed in for the second. The Panthers still ended up dropping the game 23-7 to the Pittsburgh Maulers, not scoring after their first possession of the game.
In addition to the quarterback situation, the Panthers' offense as a whole must find its rhythm. The ground game in particular needs a spark given that the Panthers are averaging just 98.4 rushing yards per game, which ranks sixth in the league.
Will it be Love's experience or Strong's potential that lights the way for the Panthers? Only time will tell as Michigan goes after its first home win yet again.
Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.