The Houston Cougars (2-2) will host the Tulane Green Wave (3-1) on Friday night in an AAC matchup. The favorite has covered the spread in 15 of the last 18 head-to-head meetings, including Houston's 40-22 win as a 6.5-point road favorite last season. The Cougars are a -2.5 point favorite for this year's contest, and the total is set at 55.
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Probably should be 4-0Tulane was voted seventh in the AAC media preseason poll. The Green Wave are 3-1 ATS, and the over/under is 1-3 in their games this season. After winning and covering through the first three games, Tulane was beaten 27-24 as a 12-point home favorite to Southern Mississippi on Saturday. The loss was extremely disappointing as Tulane dominated the box score outgaining the Golden Eagles 451 to 253 in total yards, 26 to 13 in first downs, and 76 to 52 in total plays. The Green Wave also led 14-0 early in the first quarter, but throughout the game, Tulane missed two field goals, went 1 for 3 on fourth downs, and quarterback Matt Pratt threw a pick-6 in the fourth quarter.
The Green Wave are averaging 33.8 ppg through the first four contests. They rank 66th with 248.8 passing yards per game and 52nd with 179.8 rushing yards per game on offense. At quarterback, Pratt has completed 63.5% of his passes for seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
Tulane has been strongest on the defensive end, ranking fourth with just 228.8 total yards per game allowing and eighth with 11.8 ppg allowed. Against the pass, Tulane has allowed just 102.5 yards per game, which is the best in the nation.
Houston took a loss despite winningBefore the season, Houston was voted the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference this year in the media poll. Between the lines, Houston is just 1-3 ATS this season, with all four games going over the total. Last Saturday, Houston beat rival Rice 34-27 as a 17-point favorite.
The Cougars are averaging 32.8 ppg through four games, ranking 70th with 248.3 passing yards per game and 84th averaging 145.3 rushing yards per game. Clayton Tune has led the offense with a 64.8 completion percentage, seven touchdowns, and three picks. He has also added 138 yards and two scores on the ground.
On the defensive end, the Cougars have had more of an issue, ranking 115th with 443.3 total yards allowed per game, behind a pass defense that is 122nd, giving up 295 passing yards.
The Cougars have dealt with some significant injuries early in the season. This week the team received the bad news that All-AAC second-team defensive end Derek Parish will miss the rest of this season after tearing a bicep against Rice. Parish had five sacks, 20 tackles, and a forced fumble through the first four games.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Houston came into the season with high expectations and opened the season with two emotional overtime games against instate non-conference opponents (UTSA & Texas Tech). Since coming home, the Cougars have not been at full strength or played their best in either the 18-point loss to Kansas or the seven-point win over Rice. The Cougars' offense has been decent, but the defense has really struggled, and they won't take a step forward this week after losing Derek Parish. I expect Tulane to come in even more focused after missing an opportunity to improve to 4-0. The Green Wave are a well-balanced team, and their pass defense is going to make it tough for Clayton Tune and the Cougars to get going. And even if Tune does get going, the Green Wave can also win a shootout if need be, as the Houston defense will struggle to get key stops. It'll be a Black-Out on Friday night, but I see the fans going home unhappy, as the dog wins this game outright.
Full-Game Total Pick
On offense, Houston ranks 64th averaging 5.6 yards per play, and Tulane ranks 66th averaging 5.5 yards per play. Defensively, Houston also allows 5.6 yards per play which is 69th, while Tulane has allowed just 4.1 yards per play which is 10th. I expect the Tulane offense to be able to move the ball at their regular pace against Houston, but the Cougars' offense is better than their defense, so I expect them to have more success against Tulane highly ranked D than previous opponents. Both quarterbacks in this game can make big plays, but they are also not above making a turnover that could lead to points going the other way. With both squads putting up more than 30 ppg so far, this total is low. I am taking the over.