Houston Cougars and Tulsa Golden Hurricane Meet for Conference USA West Division Crown

#8 Houston Cougars at Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Chapman Stadium – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Friday, November 25, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports Net
Opening Line: Houston -3
Current Line: Houston -3
Opening Total: 74 1/2
Current Total: 75
Opening Money Line: Houston -150 / Tulsa +130
Current Money Line: Houston -150 / Tulsa +130

UTEP Vs Houston Cougars Betting Preview
Houston QB Case Keenum leads the Cougars into Tulsa in a battle for the Conference USA West Division Championship. Houston is a 3 point favorite.

Though the official Conference USA Championship game isn’t until next week, the consensus is 11-0 Houston and 8-3 Tulsa are the two best teams in the conference. Both are 7-0 in conference as they meet for West Division title. Houston is #8 in the country under Coach Kevin Sumlin and is not only going for the conference and division titles, but a spot in a lucrative BCS bowl game as well if they run the table. The Cougars are one of two undefeated teams in the country along with #1 LSU. Tulsa is coached by Bill Blankenship, and has 3 losses to top 10 teams Oklahoma, Oklahoma St and Boise St this season. The Golden Hurricane have won 7 straight games since then. Houston leads the overall series 19-17 against Tulsa including 9-7 in Tulsa. Tulsa won last year’s meeting 28-25 in Houston.

Last week, Houston hosted SMU. The Cougars were 19.5 point favorites on the college football betting line. Though the Cougars had a “struggled” on offense, by their standards, they still racked up over 500 yards and 37 points. Houston had been averaging over 600 yards and 53 points before the SMU game. Houston was up 23-0 at the end of the third quarter, but had to settle for 3 short field goals. SMU scored midway through the fourth to pull within 16 points, but the Cougars scored 2 late touchdowns to make the final 37-7. Houston had 513 total yards including 365 passing yards. Cougar quarterback Case Keenum, a contender for the Heisman Trophy, threw for 318 yards and a touchdown, and also added a rushing touchdown. Back-up Cotton Turner also threw a touchdown pass late when the game was decided. Running back Michael Hayes rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown, and had 3 catches for 78 yards. Receiver Justin Johnson had 9 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. Gino Collins caught a 43 yard touchdown pass for his only reception of the day. SMU had only 263 total yards, including just 24 rushing yards and 16 first downs. The Mustangs had 7 penalties and 2 turnovers.

Houston has the #1 ranked offense in the country averaging 618.3 yards a game including the #1 passing attack with 447.5 yards a game and average 170.8 rushing yards a game. The Cougars are scoring 53.1 points a game. Houston has 12 turnovers and has allowed 11 sacks this season. The Cougars are 94/168 on third and fourth down conversions. Houston is 51/60 scoring in the red zone with 41 touchdowns. On defense, The Cougars are allowing 381.4 yards a game and 21.4 points a game. Houston is allowing 169.5 rushing yards and 211.8 passing yards a game. Houston has forced 22 turnovers and 29 sacks this season. Cougar opponents are 73/187 on third and fourth down conversions, and 27/39 in the red zone with 24 touchdowns. Houston has 6 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Keenum is 309/421 (73.4% completion) passing with 4,269 yards, 38 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also has 41 carries for 54 yards and 3 touchdowns. Turner has 5 touchdown passes and an interception, along with 2 rushing touchdowns, in limited action this season. Running backs Bryce Beall, Charles Sims,  and Hayes split most of the carries.  Hayes has 109 carries, 621 yards, and 8 touchdowns, along with 33 catches, 401 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Sims has 83 carries, 702 yards, and 9 touchdowns, and 32 catches, 425 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Beall has 53 carries, 311 yards, and 7 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 102 yards.  Including Hayes and Sims, six Cougar receivers have at least 26 catches. Patrick Edwards has 66 catches, 1,315 yards, and 14 scores. Edwards has just under 1,500 all purpose yards and has a punt return for a touchdown.  Tyron Carrier has 74 catches, 805 yards, and 5 touchdown catches. He has a kick return for a touchdown, and has over 1,300 all-purpose yards. Johnson  has 56 catches, 804 yards and 8 touchdowns. E.J. Smith has 26 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Daniel Spencer only has 11 catches but has two touchdowns.  Kicker Matt Hogan is 78/78 on extra points and 10/12 on field goals with a long of 35 yards. Houston has no players listed on the injury report.

Last week Tulsa traveled to El Paso to take on the UTEP Miners. The Golden Hurricane were 13.5 point favorites. Tulsa jumped out to a 14-0 lead early. UTEP pulled to within 6 points at 21-15 when Tulsa running back Trey Watts had a 94 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Golden Hurricane went for 2 and converted. It started a run of 29 straight points for Tulsa as they were up 50-15 at the end of the third. Tulsa also had a 34 yard interception return for a touchdown during that stretch. Tulsa ended up winning 57-28. Each team had 2 turnovers. Tulsa had 500 total yards including 283 passing yards from quarterback G.J. Kinne who also had 3 touchdowns and an interception. Kinne rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown. Running back Ja’Terian Douglas had 14 carries, 109 yards, and a touchdown. Watts had 10 carries, for 69 yards and 4 catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Clay Sears had 7 catches for 93 yards. UTEP had 443 total yards including 266 passing yards. UTEP had a safety but missed 2 extra points.

Tulsa averages 465.1 yards a game including 256.5 passing yards, and 208.5 rushing yards. Tulsa averages 35.7 points a game. Tulsa has 28 turnovers and has allowed 15 sacks this season. Tulsa is 69/159 on third and fourth down conversions, and 40/49 scoring in the red zone with 30 touchdowns. The Golden Hurricane allow 408.2 yards a game including 272.5 passing yards and 135.6 rushing yards. Tulsa gives up 25.7 points a game. Tulsa has forced 25 turnovers and 21 sacks this season. Hurricane opponents are 87/203 on third and fourth down conversions, and 32/43 scoring in the red zone with 23 touchdowns. Tulsa has 3 interception returns for touchdowns and a kickoff return.

Kinne is 209/319 passing (65.5% completion) for 2,683 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions along with 99 carries, 361 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Back-up Kalen Henderson has 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in limited action. Douglas has 102 carries, 853 yards, and 4 touchdowns, plus 6 catches for 33 yards. Watts has 131 carries, 781 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 25 catches, 206 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Watts returns kicks and punts as well and has over 1,300 all-purpose yards. He has the only kick return for a touchdown for Tulsa. Alex Singleton had 78 carries, 273 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Receiver Willie Carter has 57 catches, 826 yards, and 6 touchdown receptions, plus 2 rushing touchdowns. Bryan Burnham has catches, 707 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Sears has 32 catches, 405 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Ricky Johnson has only 11 catches but has 3 touchdowns. Kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick is 47/49 on extra points and 12/14 on field goals with a long of 52 yards.

Tulsa is 7-4 against the spread and the total is 4-7 this season. Houston is 9-2 ATS and the total is 7-4 this season. Tulsa has covered the last 2 games against Houston. The underdog is 5-0 ATS in the last 5 and the home team is 4-1 in those games. The Cougars are 6-0 ATS in conference games, as a favorite, after a straight up win, and overall, 5-0 after a cover and following a straight up win, 8-3 after allowing 20 points or less, 5-13 as a road favorite, 8-21 in road games against teams with winning home records, 1-4 after a favorite of 3 points or less, and against teams with winning records. Tulsa is 5-0 ATS following a straight up win, 4-0 after a cover, and in November, 12-2 in conference games, 5-1 against teams with winning records, 13-3 at home against a team with winning road records, 16-5 overall, 6-2 after scoring 40 points or more, and as an underdog, 6-2-1 after a win by 20 points or more, 11-4 on turf, and 5-2 as an underdog of 3 points or less.

The total for this game is 75 points, and these two explosive offenses might reach that by halftime. This is the fourth top 10 team Tulsa has faced, and they were beaten soundly in every one. However, that was way back in September, and the Golden Hurricane are playing a lot better. I do think Houston -3 is good value for a team that has covered 9 of the 11 games they have played this season.

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