College Football Picks: Tulane Green Wave at Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Tulane Green Wave at Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Chapman Stadium – Tulsa, Oklahoma

Thursday, August 28, 2014, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS Sports Network
Opening Line: Tulsa -6 1/2
Current Line: Tulsa -6 1/2
Opening Total: 47
Current Total: 47
Opening Money Line: Tulsa -165 / Tulane +145
Current Money Line: Tulsa -250 / Tulane +210 

Tulsa opens the season against Tulane. Both teams move from Conference USA to the AAC in 2014.
Tulsa opens the season against Tulane. Both teams move from Conference USA to the AAC in 2014.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane and Tulane Green Wave open the season against each other Thursday in Tulsa. The two former Conference USA rivals move to the American Athletic Conference along with East Carolina. Tulsa leads the series against Tulane 8-2, but the Green Wave won 14-7 last year in New Orleans. Tulsa had won 8 straight games before last year in the series  that dates back to 1968.

Tulsa had a disappointing 3-9 season last year under coach Bill Blankenship. He returns for his fourth season as the Tulsa coach. Fifteen starters are back for Tulsa including 10 on defense. Tulsa averaged 191 passing and 165 rushign yards. The Golden Hurricane were outscored 34-21 on average last season

Tulane went 7-6 last year under coach Curtis Johnson now in his third year as coach. The Green Wave qualified for the New Orleans Bowl but lost to in-state rival Louisiana 24-21. Tulane has 13 starters back including 7 on offense. Tulane averaged 185 passing and 126 rushing yards. Tulane was in the bottom ten nationally in total offense at 310 yards per game.  The Green Wave scored 25 points a game and allowed 21. Tulane had a top 25 defense nationally allowing 352 yards per game on defense.

Tulane must replace leading passer Nick Montana, leading rusher Orleans Darkwa, and leading receiver Ryan Grant. Redshirt freshman Tanner Lee will likely start at quarterback, but has not thrown a pass in college. He has star potential. Devin Powell could also be in the mix at QB after throwing for 681 yards with 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions last year as Montana’s back-up.

Rob Kelley rushed for 420 yards last season with 3 touchdowns on 98 carries and also had 18 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown. Kelley is questionable because of academics.  True freshman Sherman Badie and Josh Rounds will also get plenty of carries. The offensive line returns 3 starters and should be improved.

Justyn Shackleford should be the go-to receiver after making 36 catches for 419 yards and 5 touchdowns. Xavier Rush had 17 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown and will get more targets without Grant. Devon Breaux will also get more catches.

The Tulane secondary will be among the best in the AAC led by Leonard Doss a potential All-American cornerback who had 7 interceptions last year. Safeties Sam Schofield and Darion Monroe were first and second on the team in tackles with 104 and 90 respectively. The rest of the defense only has two returning starters in linebacker Nico Marley (10 tackles for loss) and defensive end  Royce LaFrance (6.5 sacks). LaFrance faces a possible suspension.

Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans made five starts last year and threw for 898 yards with 4 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He will be the full time starter in 2014 but could be on a short leash if he struggles. Junior Joseph Calcagni could step in if Evans throws the interceptions that plagued him last year.

Running back Trey Watts is now with the St. Louis Rams in the NFL. He had 268 carries for  1,329 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also had 46 catches for 395 yards and a touchdown. Primary back-up Je’Terian Douglas is also gone after rushing for 379 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. Untested James Flanders and JUCO transfer Tavarreon Dickerson will be the feature backs.

Receiver Keevan Lucas had 32 catches last year for 442 yards and a touchdown.  Derek Patterson, Keyarris Garrett and tight end Tyler Wilson will also get a lot of catches.

Ten starters are back on defense including safety Michael Mudoh who led Conference USA in tackles with 133. Defensive end Derrick Alexander led the team in sacks with 6.5.

Tulane is 7-2 ATS overall. The under is 5-1 in the last 6 games between Tulane and Tulsa.

Tulsa is 3-9 ATS overall, 2-6 on fieldturf, and 1-5 at home. Tulsa is 8-1 ATS in the last 9 games against Tulane and was favored in each of those contests. The Golden Hurricane have covered the last 4 at home against the Green Wave.

Tulsa had their worst season since 2002 when they went 1-11. Still they should be in better shape than Tulane who loses a lot more talent. Both teams should struggle in a more difficult conference but this will be a good way to get their feet wet. I think Tulsa wins a low scoring game 20-14.

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