Tulsa Golden Hurricane (0-0) vs. Tulane Green Wave (0-0), 8:00 p.m.
EST, Friday, September 4, 2009, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans,
La., TV: ESPN
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Tulsa -13.5/Tulane +13.5
Just one year after winning a school-record 11 games, the Tulsa
Golden Hurricane get their due as the feature team in the opener of
ESPNs Friday Night college football schedule when they travel to New
Orleans to play Conference USA foe the Tulane Green Wave in the
For the second straight year the Golden Hurricane finished with the
top offense in the country, rolling up 569 yards a game en route to
their 11-3 season. But this year will be a good test for head coach
Todd Graham, as the Hurricane graduated their top passer, rusher and
receiver as well as three offensive lineman from that high-octane
Tulane and head coach Bob Toledo can take heart that things can only
go up for the Green Wave in 2009, because just about everything went
wrong for them in 2008. The Wave struggled to a 2-10 record last
season, mainly because they suffered through the loss of 20 different
starters over the course of the year. Now that everyones out of the
training room and back on the field, Toledo and the Green Wave are
hoping to turn things around this season.
Football oddsmakers opened the game with Tulsa as 14-point favorites,
but the early steam at the window has caused the point spread to drop
the hook to 13.5 points. The over/under total opened at 63.5 and has
also moved slightly, up to 64.5 at most of the offshore sportsbooks on the Internet and the books in Las Vegas.
This years version of the Tulsa no-huddle offense is still full of
talent, but full of just as many questions like who will replace
David Johnson at quarterback. Graham at his press conference with the
media earlier in the week refused to reveal who will be this years
starter, saying instead that all three of his candidates will play.
Junior Jacob Bower had 14 attempts last year, and A.J. Whitmore only
had five attempts, but both of them are locked in a battle with true
freshman Sharodrick Beaver for the job. It could become Beavers job
in the long-run, a double threat to run or throw who has drawn
comparisons to West Virginias Pat White.
Whomever calls the signals, hell have plenty of game breakers to
distribute the ball to as running back Jamad Williams is back after
rushing for 467 yards and 3 touchdowns (6.4 yard ave.) as a backup in
08. The receiving core will be solid as well, with both Slick
Shelley (612 yds., 7 TD) and Demaris Johnson (608 yds., 9 TD) ready
to step up and fill in for the loss of Brennan Marrian. Johnson, a
New Orleans native, is also a threat to take it to the house in the
return game as he ran back two kickoffs for scores last season and is
set to take on the role of punt returner in 2009 as well.
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The Green Wave on the other hand is expected to start sophomore Joe
Kemp at quarterback. Kemp was one of the 20 starters eventually
knocked out for the season, playing in a QB-rotation before having
his best game versus Rice in late October (201 yds., 2 TD) only to
drop two weeks later at Houston.
Kemp wont have to do it alone because running back Andre Anderson
(864 yds., 7 TD in 7 games) and receiver Jeremy Williams (437 yds., 5
TD) are both back healthy and ready to rack up bigger numbers in 09.
Defensively this game will be very interesting because both squads
boast solid units.
Tulsa returns eight starters from last years 78th-ranked defense,
and Graham has stated that improvement is not only needed, but
expected since they might need to play more snaps with a brand new
quarterback on offense. The Tulsa offense may struggle as well
because Tulanes defense boasts the CUSAs best secondary and the
14th-ranked unit in the country allowing just 172 yards per game in 08.
Last year a severely banged-up Tulane defense was defenseless against
the Tulsa run, as the Hurricane racked up 489 yards on the ground in
a 56-7 laugher. In fact, the Golden Hurricane have yet to lose to the
Green Wave since they started facing each other in Conference USA,
winning all four games by an average score of 45-to-12.
The Hurricane have also covered the spread in all four games, even
last year as 28.5-point favorites, while the under cashed in at the
window in three of the four.
Badgers Pick: I fully expect Tulsa and their quarterback, whomever it is, to get that offense rolling once again. But it may take some
time to get it going, which is why Im going with the under of 64.5
here. Take the under at 64.5.