BYU Cougars (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS, 8:00 p.m. EST, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Friday, December 30, 2011, Gerald Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas, TV: ESPN
by Scotty L, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Brigham Young -2.5/Tulsa +2.5
Over/Under Total: 55.5
The BYU Cougars and Tulsa Golden Hurricane meet in Dallas on December 30 in the Armed Forces Bowl. This is a tale of two teams who have overcome tribulations to salvage successful seasons. A month into the year, you would have received long odds predicting BYU and Tulsa to be 9-3 and 8-4, respectively.
BYU opened the season at 1-2. A 44-point home loss to Utah showed them in horrific form, as they appeared to be one of the weaker BYU teams to come down the pike in a long time. They went on to win 8 of their last 9 games, with a loss to Mountain West Conference champions TCU being their only setback in the past 3 months. They did a great job resurrecting the season, especially in the midst of a QB controversy.
Tulsa began this campaign with even less success, getting off to a 1-3 start. Tough scheduling all but guaranteed a rough start for Tulsa, however, as they drew Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Boise State in 3 of their first 4 games. That can take a lot out of a team, but the Golden Hurricane showed tremendous resolve by since scoring 7 straight wins. They lost a bad one to high-powered Houston, 46-18 in their last game, but that alone doesnt soil what has been a good year for Tulsa.
Illustrating both teams overachieving ways is what they have done at the betting windows since their bad starts. Combined, these teams have covered the spread in 11 of the last 12 games. So its safe to say these teams are both somewhat overlooked and underrated. Tulsa will have a shorter trip, which could result in more fan support, but BYU fans usually travel well. This should be a good, close game.
BYU, entering this game on the heels of 3 straight wins, might have better momentum. Their defense, undependable at the beginning of the season, has rounded into shape. In their last 5 games, their only loss was to TCU. If you remove that game, BYU has outscored its opponents 181-37 during that stretch Their defense has become increasingly stingy as the season has worn on and they enter this game in excellent form.
TCU losing to Houston so badly was an unfortunate way to end the season, but in 5 straight covers preceding that defeat, they beat the spread by a combined 84.5 points. They should theoretically fare better against a more manageable BYU offense. And their own offense is a very balanced unit–in the top 40 in both the run and pass. QB G.J. Kinne had a good season, with 5 receivers catching at least 25 balls and 3 being legitimate big-play threats. They also have a pair of running backs in JaTerian Douglas and Trey Watts, who have both run for over 800 yards.
Tulsas balanced attack will be going against a BYU D that is in the top 30 against both the run and the pass. The Cougars have only given up more than 28 points once in the past 9 games. QB Riley Nelson, who filled in for benched and now-departed Jake Heaps, had a nice season, with 16 touchdown passes against only 5 picks. Their running backs are a committee of 5 backs, who all have at least 250 yards on the ground. Their best offensive threat is big WR Cody Hoffman (53-827-7). If he has a big game, that will make it awfully tough on Tulsa.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Tulsas 4 losses were all to teams who at the time they played were ranked in the top ten. But in this game of similar-styled teams who both offer good balance, one might be inclined to take the team with the more robust defense and that appears to be BYU. They have given up a little over 20 points per game and thats a number that would be lower if you wipe away games that occurred before the Cougars found their footing this year.
A couple key clutch defensive plays could spell the difference for the Cougars. Look for an underrated BYU team to get the job done en route to a win and cover. Take the BYU Cougars minus 2.5 points.
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