Tulane Green Wave vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Thursday, November 19, 2020 – 07:30 PM EST at Chapman Stadium
Can the Green Wave Upset Tulsa?
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane are one of the greatest teams outside of the Power 5. They remain on the edge of the AP top 25, and their only loss was a close one to Oklahoma State. Since then, they have beaten both UCF and SMU on their way to a 4-1 record. Without a conference loss, they control their own destiny in the AAC. They hope to gather some momentum before ending their regular season with a game against Cincinnati.
Before they get there, they will be tested by Tulane. The Green Wave began the season with a rough start, but have turned things around in recent weeks. They have won each of their past three games by a wide margin. They also have more experience this season and have played in four more games than Tulsa.
Despite the discrepancy in experience, The Golden Hurricane is favored to win by NCAAF odds. They currently stand somewhere around -6.5 depending on the betting site. Will they cover that spread? Let’s break down this game and make some predictions.
Keys for Tulsa to Cover the Spread
Tulsa is favored to win this game for a reason, but there is a lot that goes into covering the spread. Not only do you have to win, but you must do so convincingly. Tulsa will rely heavily on Zach Smith in order to do so. Smith has gotten it done so far this year, but he still has room for improvement. He has far too many interceptions when you consider their offensive structure. They are not planning on winning this game with a spread attack. They run the ball more than they pass, try to remain efficient and win in the trenches. However, he still has six interceptions in five games. Tulsa also has a fumbling problem, and that cannot continue against Tulane’s opportunistic defense.
Smith is not a mobile threat. He will remain in the pocket and try to convert plays with his arm. If he finds a way to scramble for a few key first downs, that would just be an added bonus. However, the Golden Hurricane can win this game by keeping Smith in the pocket.
While Tulane hasn’t faced a monster test in the past few weeks, they are certainly worn down over the course of the season. Because of this, Tulsa needs to consistently run the ball and win this game in the fourth quarter. With a spread of less than a touchdown, that would be more than enough for Tulsa to cover and for us to consider it as one of our NCAAF picks.
Keys for Tulane to Cover the Spread
Tulane needs their experience to be a strength in this game. You can look at it two ways. Tulane will either be more tired from playing more games or more prepared as they are in midseason form. They should be rooting for the latter.
Tulane doesn’t force many turnovers, but they will need to against Tulsa. They have what it takes to win but they need the little things to go their way. They can’t settle for a knockout fight for field position. They have to make those game-changing plays on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, Tulane needs to try and flush the pocket. Tulsa has a solid offensive line, but the Green Wave need to penetrate and keep Zach Smith from having time to make plays. If things break down, Smith will make mistakes. Tulane just needs to get him to go off the script on a few key downs. It won’t be easy, but it is the roadmap for Tulsa to lose this game. For Tulane to simply cover, expect them to run the ball more and keep their defense off the field.
Tulane would certainly rather keep this one low-scoring, but that might not be possible. Both teams have the potential to shine, but who will emerge victorious?
Time for a Pick
The Tulsa -230 moneyline is enticing. However, we will instead pick this game against the spread. The value here is with the points, but I would certainly consider adding the moneyline to a parlay.
I think Tulsa is better equipped to win this game. If their offense can avoid turnovers, this one will be hard to lose. With such a small point spread, they are simply more likely to dominate. The value here is with Tulsa to win once again, and they will likely cover the spread.