Houston-Tulsa Betting Preview: Cougars Playing at Historically Fast Pace

Houston-Tulsa Betting Preview: Cougars Playing at Historically Fast Pace article feature image

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: D’Eriq King

  • Houston has one of the fastest offenses in the country, but Tulsa isn't far behind in pace.
  • Here's how to find betting value in the over/under for this Thursday night matchup.

Houston-Tulsa Betting Odds

  • Line: Houston -18
  • Over/Under: 70
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET on Thursday
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of 11 a.m. ET on Thursday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.

Houston has always played fast. Since the start of the Kevin Sumlin-Case Keenum days almost a decade ago, the Cougars have built high-powered offenses that put defenses on their heels.

This year is no different. Under new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles (formerly of Baylor and FAU), Houston is averaging 3.32 plays per minute. That would be the fastest pace of any team since 2005, when CFBAnalytics.com’s data begins.

The Metrics

By Steve Petrella

Think about all the lightning-fast offenses of the last decade: Art Briles’ Baylor, plus Texas Tech and UCF the last two years. Houston’s playing faster than all of those teams.

Because of this speed, the Cougars are averaging 16 possessions per game, tops in the country. Their opponents are averaging 15.75, which is tied for fifth. There will be a lot of opportunities for both Houston and Tulsa to score in this game.

If you just multiplied average number of drives by points per possession, you’d project 52 points for Houston in this one.

You’d also think that monster 3.32 plays-per-minute number might regress a little when Houston doesn’t need to play as fast against a not-so-quality opponent.

But consider this: Two weeks ago against Texas Southern, the Cougars still ran 90 plays in a 70-14 win. They averaged 3.13 plays per minute and attempted 49 passes. There’s no slowing them down, no matter the opponent.

So what about Tulsa? Will it hold up its end of the offensive bargain? The Golden Hurricane have averaged 4.78 yards per play, tied for 117th in the country.

But they also play fast, ranking sixth in adjusted pace and 16th in plays per minute.

Bet to Watch

By Ken Barkley

I’m taking the over — I have 69.5, it’s currently 70 — now that the thunderstorms in the Houston area are apparently minimal, and there should be very little wind.

These teams run a very high number of plays, and are interested in moving the ball up and down the field.

Houston gave up a billion points to Texas Tech in Week 3, and has shut down three other teams. The problem for Houston is that those three teams were Rice (one of the worst teams in the country), FCS Texas Southern and an Arizona team that continues to have no idea what to do with Khalil Tate.

The Cougars are 85th in defensive S&P+, and I’m not sure that’s likely to improve.

For Tulsa, the offensive numbers haven’t looked like they normally do, but the Golden Hurricane have also played Texas and Temple — two defenses that can really show up in certain spots.

They actually had 400 total yards against Temple, but five turnovers prevented them from scoring more points.

I think these are offenses likely to improve and defenses unlikely to stop much, both factors occurring more than the market currently thinks.

The Pick: Over