UMass vs. Tulane Football Picks, Odds, Predictions: Back the Minutemen on Road?
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Pratt (Tulane)
- Tulane hosts UMass as part of college football's Week 1.
- With the hiring of Don Brown, the Minutemen look to be on an upward trend -- at least by their standards.
- Kyle Remillard previews the game and offers up his best bet.
UMass vs. Tulane Odds
UMass heads down to Louisiana for a matchup against Tulane to kick off its season.
The Minutemen have been among the bottom-five teams in the nation over the last decade. The program hopes to change that with its hiring of Don Brown for his second stint with UMass. Brown will have a ton of production returning from last season to work with.
Tulane is coming off its worst season in a decade after winning just two games last year. The Green Wave hope to limit the self-inflicted wounds after averaging over two turnovers per game last season.
UMass lost all its matchups last season by double digits. But can the Minutemen do enough to keep this game within the four-touchdown spread?
Things haven’t been pretty for UMass since jumping back up to FBS in 2012. In the 10 years since rejoining the FBS, the program has a record of 20-92. But this season, they bring in Brown for his second stint as head coach.
Brown is a local legend around New England. He guided Plymouth State to two perfect regular seasons and led Northeastern to its only Division I AA playoff appearance.
Brown was with UMass for five years and led it to the 2006 National Championship game at the FCS level. He has spent the last dozen seasons guiding Power Five defenses from Michigan to Arizona.
The Minutemen are coming off of a 1-11 season, which featured all 11 losses coming by double digits. The program was outscored by an average margin of 16-43 and ranked among the bottom of the country in nearly every advanced metric out there.
But if there is a reason for optimism it comes in the form of returning production. UMass was one of the youngest teams in the nation and ranks fourth nationally in returning production, according to TARP.
Running back Ellis Merriweather is the star of this offense after putting up over 1,100 rushing yards and over five yards per carry. The offense will continue to lean on him, but it must find some production through the air.
Quarterback Brady Olson completed less than 50% of his passes while averaging just 5.3 yards per attempt. The starting job is still vacant, as Brown listed five possible options on the depth chart.
UMass depth chart – 5-way OR at QB, which may be a record… pic.twitter.com/tJo5L1ZXJv
— College Fantasy Football (@FBSFantasyFoot) August 31, 2022
The UMass defense was hard to watch last season, allowing 43 points per game. The defense came away with just two interceptions and a total of 14 sacks last season, both among the bottom-three in the nation.
But with a head coach who earned the nickname “Dr. Blitz” that should surely improve this season.
Despite Tulane winning just one more game than UMass last season, the bar is set significantly higher for the Green Wave. Half of the team’s 10 losses came by just one possession.
Head coach Willie Fritz had the deck stacked against the program right out of the gates. Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana, causing some chaos within the program early in the season.
Also, the Green Wave had an insane schedule, including Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Cincinnati, SMU, UAB and Houston all before Halloween.
The offense returns nine starters, including four from the offensive line. Last year’s group was largely mediocre, averaging 28 points and 5.6 yards per play.
Quarterback Michael Pratt averaged 7.3 yards per pass attempt and just shy of 200 yards a game. The running game was highlighted by lightning quick Tyjae Spears, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry.
The Achilles heel of the offense last season was its turnover woes. The program averaged over two turnovers per game after tossing 13 interceptions and losing a dozen fumbles.
The defense had a slew of problems last year and only held two opponents to below 20 points last season. The Green Wave allowed 5.8 yards per play, which ranked 91st in the country last season.
They were decent against the run (3.9 yards per play), but struggled mightily through the air (8.1 yards per play).
UMass vs. Tulane Betting Pick
There is no secret that UMass has been one of the worst teams in college football over the last few seasons. That said, Brown has a lot of returning production to work with and will put the team in a position to be competitive.
UMass will find success running the ball against a Tulane defense that was disappointing last season. Merriweather is going to get a heavy workload in this game, and UMass will attempt to control the clock.
Tulane’s defense was susceptible to allowing big plays, as it ranked outside the top 100 in Explosiveness against the rush last season.
The Green Wave had major turnover issues last season, coughing the ball up over twice per game. The Minutemen are going to be blitzing constantly in this matchup, pressuring Pratt to make quick decisions with the football.
It’s not easy to back a team with a recent track record like UMass, but my numbers have Tulane favored by 25 in this matchup. I see value with the Minutemen catching over four touchdowns.