Long-time Conference USA rivals Tulane and Tulsa will once again play a conference game, but this time they will do so as members of the American Athletic Conference. The Green Wave are coming off of their best season in recent years, a 7-6 campaign that included a trip to the New Orleans Bowl, while the Golden Hurricane are coming off of the worst season in the last 10 years. Tulsa was just 3-9, their worst mark since 2004 when they went 4-8 in their final season as a member of the WAC.
Tulane Green Wave vs Tulsa Golden Hurricane College Football Preview
Date/Time: Thursday August 28, 8:00 pm EST
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Football Betting Favorite: Tulsa -6.5
A year after going 11-3 and 9-5 against the spread, Tulsa fell from grace and hit just about everything they could on the way down. The team was left battered and bruised and has a lot to replace from last season’s offense. Tulane, along with a bowl appearance, went 9-4 against the spread for back-to-back seasons above .500 against the number in a long time.
Tulane Green Wave:
Curtis Johnson brought legitimacy back to the Tulane program in just two seasons. After inheriting a 2-11 team, Johnson and his team went through some growing pains in their first season together with a 2-10 campaign in 2012. The writing was on the wall, as Tulane was far more competitive in 2012 and they put it all together in 2013. Unfortunately for Johnson, two of the team’s best players are gone as running back Orleans Darkwa caught on in the NFL as an undrafted free agent and wide receiver Ryan Grant and his 77 receptions are gone. For a group of quarterbacks that only completed 53.5 percent of their passes, those are two big losses. The defense was 17 points better in 2013 than it was in 2012, but there are several key departures from the back seven and Tulane likes to play a hybrid 4-3/4-2-5 defense. Lorenzo Doss is back and he was a second-team All American with seven interceptions.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane:
The Tulsa offense returned their starting quarterback, Cody Green, and two best running backs, Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas. Despite that, the Tulsa offense scored 13.6 fewer points last season and gained 101 fewer yards per game. Green got hurt and freshman Dane Evans took over. He completed 43.1 percent of his passes and threw 10 interceptions. Watts and his 314 offensive touches with over 1,700 yards are gone. Bill Blankenship will have a lot of work to do with the offense. The defense, which allowed 34 points per game last season, was hurt by short fields and three and outs, so a better offense will help them. The unit returns 10 starters from last season’s team, though the lone departure was the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, Shawn Jackson. Revenge is on Tulsa’s mind because Tulane beat them for the first time since 1968 in last season’s meeting.
Free Pick: Tulsa Golden Hurricane -6.5
Both teams have some retooling to do on the offensive side of things, but Tulsa returns most of its defense in tact and it was a pretty productive group, all things considered. With two returning starters and a completely inept offense, the defense got some great experience and the offense should take steps in the right direction. Also, following a good ATS year for Tulane and a bad ATS year for Tulsa, there’s sure to be a little bit of bias in the line that can be exploited.
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