The best betting opportunities are not always marquee matchups, and such is the case in Week 1 of this college football season when Florida Atlantic visits Tulsa Saturday.
One of the better bets of Week 1 of the college football season may come out of Conference USA when that conference’s Florida Atlantic Owls pay a visit to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane of the AAC at H.A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa, OK on Saturday, September 5th at 3:30 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Florida Atlantic as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +7 with odds of -103.
Favored by Touchdown After Winning Two Games?
Tulsa comes off of an abysmal season where it finished just 2-10, as the defense was awful ranking 122nd out of 128 FBS schools in points allowed at 39.2 per games as well as 117th in total defense surrendering 486.7 yards per game. And this is now a team favored by a touchdown under a first time head coach, former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery?
That is not to say that Florida Atlantic is a powerhouse or anything as the Owls finished 3-9 last year and they were the worst college football picks in the East Division of Conference USA finishing 2-6 in conference. Still, it appears that FAU is in line to make more forward progress this season and the Owls are the team getting a touchdown here from a program that is not really that much better after all.
Winning Record ATS in 2014
Florida Atlantic may have won just three games on the field last year, but the Owls actually had a winning 7-5 ATS record even covering the point spread vs. Alabama! Granted they still lost to the Crimson Tide 41-0 as 42½-point underdogs, buy they may have learned things about themselves in that game while being grossly outclassed because that contest began a four-game ATS winning streak including an outright 50-21 blowout of this Tulsa team!
The Owls were scant one-point underdogs back home in Boca Raton for that blowout win, and while Tulsa is now thinking revenge, has enough changed in favor of the Golden Hurricane here to justify the nearly touchdown swing in the point spread? Not only do we think not, but we actually feel that the opposite is true with Florida Atlantic potentially being the more improved team.
Besides, believe it or not the Owls were not far off from having a winning record last year as they lost four games by three points or less. They also opened up last season with two impossible games as they played at Nebraska before visiting Alabama, so in the 10 games vs. teams closer to their own level, the Owls won three and lost four by three or less.
Now, the team is more experienced and with those returnees including quarterback Jacquez Johnson and his top two wide receivers Lucky Whitehead and Jenson Stoshak. That trio can take full advantage of a vulnerable Tulsa defense that led the entire country last year in big plays allowed of at least 30 yards with a whopping 45 of them!
Montgomery Can Only Do So Much
This is the first head coaching job for Montgomery, but he certainly orchestrated some great, fast-pace offenses as an offensive coordinator as he also held that job at Houston before joining Baylor and overseeing the likes of Robert Griffin III and Bryce Petty. But while he will now install that fast-paced offense at Tulsa, does he have the personnel to execute it properly?
Yes, the defense was terrible last year, but it was not as of the offense lit up the scoreboard either ranking 94th in the country with only 24.7 points per game, and although now redshirt junior quarterback Dane Evans improved his completion percentage to a still mediocre 55.4 percent last season after it stood at an abysmal 43.0 percent the prior year, he still needs to be more accurate to succeed in Montgomery’s spread offense, which may take some time.
And there were no foreseeable upgrades to the horrific defense, at least not on paper, so it remains to be seen how an offensive mastermind like Montgomery will handle things on that side of the ball.
Finally, because the defense has been so lousy for several years now, Tulsa has been totally unreliable as a favorite not only going just 3-8 ATS in this role over the last two years but also going a losing 5-6 straight up on the field!
While another outright upset of Tulsa would not shock us our recommendation here is to take the seven points with Florida Atlantic as the Owls should at the very least keep this opening Week 1 game close on Saturday, September 5th.
College Football Pick: Florida Atlantic +7 (-103)