Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles vs. Tulane Green Wave Pick 1/4/20
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Tulane Green Wave (6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS)
When: Saturday, January 4, 11:30 a.m.
Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
Point Spread: USM +7/TULN -7 (MyBookie)
Total: O/U 56.5
These teams come in limping, as Tulane has lost five of its past six games and hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record all season. In contrast, Southern Mississippi lost its final two games and wasn’t competitive in either of them, losing to Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic. That made both teams available to the Fort Worth Bowl, which set up a local rivalry that’s gone dormant. Hattiesburg, Miss., is about 100 miles away from Tulane’s New Orleans campus, but the teams haven’t played since 2010 after realignment took Tulane out of Conference USA and landed it in the American. They’ll play four more times during the next decade, but this is set to be their only meeting of the current decade, and it gives both teams a chance to finish on a high note.
How the Public is Betting the Southern Mississippi/Tulane Game
The total has dropped a point since the game opened, falling to 56.5 points from the opening total of 57.5. There has been no change from the opening line.
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Southern Mississippi: Wide receiver De’Michael Harris is questionable with an upper-body injury; linebacker Swayzee Bozeman is questionable with a leg issue.
Tulane: Running backs Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine are both questionable with a foot injury and a wrist injury, respectively.
When Southern Mississippi Has the Ball
Watch out for Southern Miss next year if Jack Abraham continues his progression and cuts back on the interceptions, as he’s thrown for 3,329 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. His turnovers are a serious concern, however, and they really hurt the Golden Eagles in the regular-season finale against Florida Atlantic as he tossed four picks. That’s a big concern for the Golden Eagles because there isn’t a Plan B, as Kevin Perkins is the only true running back on the roster to top 200 rushing yards for the season. Perkins’ total was a mere 548 rushing yards, far below the receiving yardage of Quez Watkins and Tim Jones, who have combined for 1,864 receiving yards this season. With only eight touchdowns, the receivers’ performance suggests a USM problem with getting in the end zone, but USM can chew up a lot of yards in a hurry, which can make a big difference.
When Tulane Has the Ball
Quarterback play matters to Tulane as well, but in a different way, as Justin McMillan threw for 2,229 yards and rushed for 704, accumulating 26 touchdowns on the season. McMillan is a dynamic senior who put up some great numbers at the start of the year but has seen his interceptions tick up quite a bit as the schedule got harder. Of his ten interceptions, eight of them came in the final six games of the season, and a ninth came early against Auburn, the only one of the first six games that Tulane lost.
When McMillan hands off, Corey Dauphine can really make opponents pay, as he averaged more than eight yards per carry this season.
However, Dauphine might or might not play, which could lead to McMillan having to pass more often. Darnell Mooney is the top target for McMillan, as he hauled in 45 passes for 670 yards, showing that McMillan can throw it pretty well and is a real matchup nightmare for any mid-major foe.
Making the Green Wave a favorite this year has been akin to putting a giant neon sign that says “Bet this game”, as Tulane holds a 7-1 ATS mark this season when it’s expected to cover. Tulane has also been the kind of team that bounces back pretty quickly after a spread loss, as it has covered in each of its four games that have followed a spread loss this season. Meanwhile, Southern Miss has tended to struggle in the postseason, as the Golden Eagles have managed just one cover in their past six bowl game appearances. When Tulane faces one of its old C-USA rivals, points don’t tend to come all that easily. Tulane has seen the under go 5-0-1 in its past six against C-USA members, a stat that fits perfectly with Southern Mississippi’s stingy numbers, as the Golden Eagles have gone under the total in each of their past five games.
Weather should be pleasant and a non-factor, at 52 degrees, and partly cloudy.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
I’m not sold on Tulane, but there’s one factor that makes me think that the Green Wave is worth taking here: the fact that their skill players are mostly seniors. Most of Southern Mississippi’s players will have another chance next season, but that isn’t true of Tulane, which loses McMillan, Dauphine, and Mooney after this season. This is their final game at the collegiate level and possibly the last game of their lives, and they’re likely going to want to go out with a strong performance.
Throw in that Tulane has played better teams, and I see this going their way. Give me the Green Wave.