- Tulsa has covered in four of its last five games against the Cougars, but a trip to Houston feels especially daunting this year. Could the Golden Hurricane pull the upset for the second year in a row?
Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Houston Cougars (-16.5)
Thu. 10/4, 8:00 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Tulsa-Houston:
1. Last year, Tulsa beat Houston 45-17 as a 14-point home underdog. The Golden Hurricane rushed for 288 yards and four scores in that game, and the team was able to cover against Houston for the fourth time in the previous five meetings between the two. But this year’s Cougars are a bit different than usual since they know how to stop the run. On the season, Houston is allowing only 2.8 yards per carry, ranking 12th in the nation in that category. That will be especially important in this game, as Tulsa is a team that does most of its work on the ground. Golden Hurricane starting quarterback Luke Skipper has thrown for just 716 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions on the season. But running backs Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor II have combined to rush for 634 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. It won’t be easy for Houston, but defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio will be confident that his unit can slow that duo down. Houston defensive centerpiece Ed Oliver is one of the best players in the country, capable of essentially dominating offensive lines singlehandedly at DT.
2. Tulsa’s defense has been solid against the pass this season, allowing only 175.5 yards per game and eight touchdowns through the air. The problem is that the Golden Hurricane haven't seen a quarterback quite like Houston’s D’Eriq King. The junior has already thrown for 1,197 yards with 15 touchdowns (and only one pick) for the Cougars this year. He has also added five touchdowns on the ground. King just might be the best quarterback that head coach Major Applewhite has ever had. And considering Applewhite is one of the brightest offensive minds in the game, it’s scary to think what somebody with King’s accuracy and athleticism can do against a Tulsa defense that hasn’t exactly been stifling opponents this year, allowing 28.8 points per game. And in wide receivers Keith Corbin, Marquez Stevenson and Courtney Lark, Houston has talent at wideout that Tulsa’s secondary has little chance of shutting down for the entirety of a game.
3. The last time the Golden Hurricane beat the Cougars on the road was in 2012, when Tony Levine was the coach for Houston. The program has had six coaches since 2000, and Art Briles, Kevin Sumlin and Tom Herman were three of them. This football team has enjoyed plenty of success in that span, but Levine was one of the worst coaches Houston has had and he now finds himself on Purdue’s coaching staff. It’ll be interesting to see how Tulsa does now that Houston is happy with the leader on its sideline. Meanwhile, the Golden Hurricane has played three Thursday games under current head coach Philip Montgomery and the team is 0-3 straight up and 1-2 against the spread in those games.
Pick: Houston -16.5
Confidence level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)