Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-6 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Camping World Independence Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday, December 26, 2015 at 5:45PM EST
Where: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TLSA +13.5/VT -13.5
Over/Under Total: 61.5
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane meet the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Independence Bowl on December 26 in Shreveport. When looking at this game, most will note it for the fact that it is Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamers final game, with this being the 23rd straight bowl game for the Hokies. At the same time, its still an entertaining matchup between this pair of 6-win teams, each of whom would like to end the season on a high note. The Hokies would love to send Beamer out with a victory after nearly 3 decades of honorable service. But Tulsa is looking to end the season with a big upset win, with Virginia Tech being nearly two-touchdown favorites.
Virginia Tech did not have what anyone would call a successful season and the hopes were actually pretty high heading into 2015. It started with an 18-point loss to Ohio State. Losses to East Carolina and Pittsburgh had them sitting at 2-3. A win over NC State and losses to Miami and Duke left them at 3-5. But they won 3 of their last 4, with all three of those wins coming on the road and they enter this game with some decent momentum.
Tulsa had a streaky season. They started off at 2-0, before dropping games to Oklahoma and Houston, a pair of really tough opponents. They also lost to East Carolina and then lost again to Memphis. Two wins followed, before losing two straight to Cincinnati and Navy. On one hand, four of their 6 losses were to good teams that were ranked. And no one ever said Tulsa was a top-25 team this season. At the same time, their best win was probably a week two road win at New Mexico. Their other five wins came against teams with a combined won-loss record of 10-51. And thats a main reason why you have two 6-6 teams with one being a 13.5 favorite.
Tulsa has a pretty good offense, with the nations 11th-ranked aerial attack and an average of 36 points per game. They are led by junior quarterback Dane Evans, who had nearly 4000 yards on the season. His top receiver Keyarris Garrett was 20 yards off the nations lead with 1451 yards. Joshua Atkinson was near 1000 yards with 65 catches. And they have a nice deep threat in Justin Hobbs. But theres a bit of a disconnect, with Evans having only 22 TD throws on nearly 4000 yards worth of production. Their top 3 receivers have only 13 combined touchdowns despite almost 3000 receiving yards. But they like to punch it in with short-yardage maven Zack Langer, who scored 17 touchdowns this season. On the ground, they are led by DeAngelo Brewer, with Ramadi Warren adding a lot of punch. To their credit, its the 14th ranked offense, but they never really had it come off against a really good team.
There are a few contenders for the worst defense in bowl season and Tulsa would be a top entry in that contest. They allow a ghastly 38.6 points a game on average, ranked 124th against the pass and 119th against the run. They allow an average of 531 yards per game. And lets remember, they faced 5 teams with a combined record of 10-51 this season and still managed to post these numbers. They will occasionally step up with a big play, but that doesnt come close to making up for how porous they are.
Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer missed a lot of time this season and it did hurt the Hokies offense in terms of continuity. But his return has this offense moving a little better. Its all relative, as this wasnt a team that was going to have an exceptional offense at any rate. Brewer works well with a nice receiver in Isaiah Ford, who has ten TD receptions. Pass-catchers Bucky Hodges and Cam Phillips are big players in this offense. The run-game can be a bit pedestrian, led by Travon McMillian and his 961 yards, but how will they do in this game against a truly substandard Tulsa defense? Against some of the dodgier defenses that they faced this season, they were fairly prolific and will be looking for more of that in the Independence Bowl.
The Virginia Tech defense gave up an average of 24.2 points per game this season and were 9th in passing defense. They are pretty tough up front and this defense actually led all of college football with 15 recovered fumbles. Can their pass-defense withstand the Golden Hurricane attack? Their ability to do that will go a long way toward determining if they win and cover the spread in this matchup.
The urge is going to be to take Virginia Tech, with this being Beamers last game. The books know that and have adjusted the number accordingly. And while Tulsa didnt beat a good team this year and their defense is comical, this point spread doesnt represent good value for a Virginia Tech team that had a lot of problems this season. While it is Beamers last game, there is a reason its his last game and that makes it hard to buy into them as such big favorites. A lot of components of this matchup are in their favor, but the storyline where they cover the spread almost seems to conveniently arrived-at. Im taking the Golden Hurricane.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane plus 13.5 points.
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