Houston Cougars vs. Tulane Green Wave Pick 10/7/21
Houston Cougars (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. Tulane Green Wave (1-4 SU, 2-3 ATS)
When: Thursday, October 7, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans
Point Spread: HOU -4.5/TUL +4.5. Bet it cheaper (-105 instead of -110 at BAS!)
Total: O/U 60.5
These teams have gone in entirely different directions since their opening week, as Tulane has steadily gone downhill since an impressive Week 1, and Houston has gradually overcome a poor start. The Cougars have now won four straight and made a big statement against Tulsa, suggesting that this is a team that’s a lot better than it showed to start the season.
On the other hand, Tulane appears to have shot its wad in the first two weeks of the season, as the Green Wave got crushed by Mississippi and have since lost to UAB and East Carolina, the latter of which saw the Wave barely compete. Tulane has been tough on Houston when the teams have met in New Orleans, as the Wave has won the past two matchups in the Crescent City. In fact, this series has been very even since the teams joined the American: Houston is just 4-3 against Tulane, and the home team has won the last five matchups.
How the Public is Betting the Houston/Tulane Game
The sharp money is backing Houston, and so is the public. The line briefly went on the board at -2.5 for Houston, but it’s already risen to -4.5 at most books. If you like the Cougars, you might want to jump on them as soon as possible. So far, 64 percent of tickets are on the Cougars.
Running back James Fulbright III (knee) is out for the season.
Wide receiver Mykel Jones (knee) is out for the season.
When Houston Has the Ball
Alton McCaskill has to be thinking that big things are coming in this game, as he’s facing a defense that gives up an average of 207 yards per game on the ground. McCaskill was huge for the Cougars a week ago against Tulsa, rushing for three touchdowns, and he’s contributed seven scores on the ground this year for Houston. So far, that’s proven a much better way for Houston to go than putting the ball in Clayton Tune’s hands, as Tune has been the classic high ceiling, high floor type of quarterback.
When Tune has been at his best, he’s put up some excellent numbers, but against Texas Tech, he wasn’t anywhere close to his best, tossing four interceptions in the game. However, Tune has looked a lot better since facing the Red Raiders, throwing just two interceptions in his past four starts. Tune has been a good bet for two touchdowns per game for most of the season, as he’s hit two scores in three of five games on the year. But with such an inviting run defense and one that the Cougars have punished previously, Houston might not bother to get Nathaniel Dell involved and instead use him as a decoy to allow McCaskill to take over.
When Tulane Has the Ball
Taking care of the football has to be a bigger point of emphasis for Michael Pratt, who has thrown five interceptions in his past two starts. Tulane has been at its best when it’s been a quality running team, but the Green Wave has really struggled to move the ball on the ground this season. Cameron Carroll has done an excellent job with nearly five yards per carry, but the Wave’s weak defense has meant that Tulane has to go away from him too often and put the ball in Pratt’s hands.
In recent games, the results haven’t been great. Pratt’s completion percentage is still under 60 percent, and the Wave doesn’t have the ground game needed to overcome that. Tyrick James gives Pratt a solid target for shorter completions, but for the most part, the Wave has to make big plays happen in order to produce some points. So far, that’s not happening anywhere near often enough.
There are two reasons to approach with caution: Houston’s success allergy and its recent struggles in New Orleans. The Cougars have covered just twice in their past 13 games after a straight-up win, and they’re just 7-19 ATS in their past 26 games after a win on the spread. Plus, the home team has covered the number in four straight meetings in this series, which gives the Wave reason to think they can pull a surprise.
Plus, Tulane is at its best when it’s able to play as a home underdog: the Green Wave have covered in six straight as a dog at Yulman Stadium. They’ve also been at their best when scoring a lot of points, as the over has cashed in five of Tulane’s past six contests. But points haven’t exactly come easily in this series: the under has cashed in five of seven in New Orleans in this series, and the favorite has covered in 14 of the last 17 matchups.
Humidity will be in the air in Louisiana, as this will be a warm night for football. Temperatures will sit in the high 70s, eventually lowering to 71 on a sticky night in New Orleans. Wind will blow at five miles per hour.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
A year ago, Tulane forced five Houston turnovers and built a 24-7 lead behind an abundance of short fields. It didn’t make a bit of difference, as the Wave blew the lead and ended up with a 49-31 loss. This one seems to be no better for Tulane, as Houston is hitting its stride, and the Wave still doesn’t have anything resembling a ground game.
Look for Houston to run all over Tulane in this contest; 4.5 points seems to be far too low. Give me the Cougars to pull away. (Note: this game has now moved up to -6 on most boards, but you can still get it at 5.5 at BetOnline.)