College Football Odds & Picks for Tulsa vs. Navy: Bet the Golden Hurricane to Win Big

College Football Odds & Picks for Tulsa vs. Navy: Bet the Golden Hurricane to Win Big article feature image
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Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Zaven Collins.

  • Linebacker Zaven Collins leads a stout Tulsa defense against Navy’s triple-option attack in AAC action.
  • The Golden Hurricane are undefeated in conference play after an eight-loss 2019 and has have their last two games in dramatic fashion.
  • Roberto Arguello lays out his betting strategy and explains why he likes Tulsa to take down Navy in convincing fashion.

Tulsa vs. Navy Odds

Tulsa Odds -12.5 [BET NOW]
Navy Odds +12.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -500/+350 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 46 [BET NOW]
Time Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN2
Odds as of Saturday afternoon and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane travel to Annapolis to face the Navy Midshipmen on Saturday. With a win, the Golden Hurricane will clinch their first appearance in the American Athletic Conference title game.

After finishing last season 4-8 (2-6 in the AAC), Tulsa has turned the tide with a 5-1 record and a perfect 5-0 mark in conference play. Tulsa’s turnaround has been sparked by its defense, which is led by a potential first-round pick in outside linebacker Zaven Collins. 

The Midshipmen look to play spoiler on Senior Night. Navy is 3-5 on the season with a 3-3 record in the AAC. With a win, the Midshipmen would finish above .500 in the conference and set themselves up for a bowl game if they can beat rival Army next week to finish 5-5. 

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Tulsa Golden Hurricane

For Tulsa to win and cover, it will need to corral the triple option on defense and avoid costly mistakes on offense, especially in the first quarter. 

The Golden Hurricane’s 3-3-5 defense has been terrific all year thanks to Collins, who at 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds is one of the most versatile linebackers in the country. His special speed, size, strength and vision combination make him a threat as a pass rusher and tackler, as well as in coverage. Collins creates Havoc in the front end of the defense, while its huge secondary (four players at corner or safety stand at least 6-foot-2) hopes to limit explosive plays.

Collins is the only player in the country to win Chuck Bednarik Defensive Player of the Week (vs. Oklahoma State), Bronko Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week (vs. SMU) and Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week (vs. Tulane) national honors in three separate weeks this year. He is tied for third nationally with four interceptions, and his two pick-sixes lead the country.

The Tulsa defensive star has also come through in the clutch, with an interception to seal the game against SMU and a game-winning pick-six in overtime against Tulane in the Golden Hurricane’s two most recent games. He’s even getting some buzz as a potential candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

The rest of the Tulsa defense has also stepped up its game this year. The three defensive linemen have done a great job eating up double teams, making plays and opening up opportunities for Collins and the rest of the defense. Their play will be key this week against Navy’s run-heavy triple-option scheme, but they have been strong against the run, allowing just 3.8 yards per carry. 

The matchup means Tulsa’s secondary will also need to be more active than usual against the run. Redshirt sophomore safety Kendarin Ray ranks second in tackles behind Collins with 46 to go along with five pass breakups. Tulsa’s cornerbacks, Akayleb Evans and Allie Green IV, have played at a high level all season and are a big reason why Tulsa ranks 15th nationally in yards allowed per pass attempt (6.0 yards per attempt). 

Offensively, Tulsa has gotten into a bad habit of starting off slowly and digging itself out of deficits in the second half with some heroic and unlikely comebacks. In its last two games, Tulsa came back from a 21-0 hole against SMU to win, 28-24, and from 14-0 with third-string quarterback Davis Brin leading the way to win 30-24 in overtime against Tulane. 

Starting quarterback Zach Smith is probable for Saturday after leaving the Tulane game with an injury. He has started slowly and heated up by the end of the second quarter in most of his starts. As long as he avoids costly mistakes in the first quarter, Tulsa should win by multiple scores.


Navy Midshipmen

If Navy hopes to keep it close or even pull the upset against Tulsa, it will need to find a path to better efficiency in its triple-option rushing attack. The lack of execution thus far in 2020 has stemmed from subpar quarterback play. The two starters this season, Tyger Goslin and Dalen Morris, haven’t succeeded in making plays on the perimeter, and as a result, the slotbacks haven’t had as much space to operate either.

The quarterbacks and slotbacks in the Midshipmen offense have combined to gain just 2.9 yards, while the fullbacks have been more efficient rushing up the middle to the tune of nearly five yards per carry. 

Some Navy fans have wanted to see more action from freshman quarterback Xavier Arline, as he figures to be the team’s future at quarterback. Arline replaced Morris late in the third quarter in last week’s 10-7 loss to Memphis, but he mustered just three carries for 12 yards with no pass attempts.

Arline is the smallest of the Navy quarterbacks, but he also boasts the best combination of speed, quickness and elusiveness among them. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get the start this week.

Although Navy’s defense posted a strong performance against Memphis last week, it will need to improve on its season averages to hold Tulsa’s spread offense in check. The Midshipmen has allowed 5.6 yards per carry (116th out of 130 teams nationally) and 7.9 yards per pass attempt (94th). Navy has to improve on its ability to get to the passer against Tulsa’s Smith, a Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award candidate. The Midshipmen enter the weekend ranked 122nd with a Sack Rate of 2.86%.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

I really want to pick Navy here with the points as I expect it to give Tulsa its best effort on Senior Night, but the Midshipmen’s uncharacteristic inefficiency in the triple option and holes on the defense are too much for me to overlook. 

Tulsa’s stout defense should rein in the Navy rushing attack, and the Midshipmen’s defense simply doesn’t create the Havoc necessary (Navy ranks 126th in Havoc created on defense at just 8.05%) to rattle Smith and make game-changing plays to keep this close. Consequently, I like Tulsa to cover at -12.5 up to -16.5.

Pick: Tulsa -12.5 (up to -16.5).

[Bet Tulsa now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]