Houston vs. Tulane Odds & Pick: Cougars Should Cover Thursday’s Season Opener
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Houston’s Clayton Tune, left, and Marquez Stevenson.
Houston vs. Tulane Betting Odds
|Houston Odds||-6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Tulane Odds||+6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-255/+200 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||58.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
Does anybody want to play the Houston Cougars?
That is the question asked by several players on the roster after having five opening games called off due to COVID-19: Washington State, Rice, Memphis, Louisiana Tech and Baylor — all interrupted by the pandemic.
The Baylor game was particularly crushing because of the late timing in the cancellation, as Holgorsen and the staff were bus-ready to open against a former Southwest Conference opponent.
The Cougars return one of the most experienced rosters in the nation, with 93% production back on the defensive side of the ball.
There is plenty of motivation for Houston, as a 38-31 loss to Tulane in 2019 prompted quarterback D’Eriq King to redshirt in what felt like a lost season. Meanwhile, the Green Wave have three games on the board for 2020, giving the Cougars plenty of film for study.
Tulane sits at 2-1 with a second-half collapse to Navy sandwiched between wins at South Alabama and Southern Miss. The Green Wave rank 13th in seconds per play, getting the most out of a rushing attack that ranks sixth in success rate. The Green Wave has rushed on more than 52% of its plays through every personnel, which helps mask quarterback Keon Howard’s underwhelming performance.
Specifically, 21 and 12 groupings provide the biggest ratio to the run game per Sport Source Analytics.
Through 57 passing attempts, Howard has yet to throw a touchdown despite the Green Wave ranking 11th in offensive finishing drives. The Houston secondary is filled with transfers from Oklahoma State, Minnesota and West Virginia, while linebacker is loaded with returning talent.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Tulane should have success in line yards, a statistic that capture an offense’s aptitude to gain the necessary yards on the ground. The Green Wave has posted a top-10 rank in line yards this season. Houston’s defensive line returns several starters, but its defensive strength is in the back-seven against the pass.
Expect the Tulane offense to struggle in passing downs, as Howard has completed just 48% in 44 drop backs without pressure.
Clayton Tune returns at quarterback for Houston, taking on a Green Wave defense that ranks 71st in passing EPA in 2020. Considering only 75 teams have seen action in 2020, Cougars wide receiver Marquez Stevenson may fill the highlight reel with his elite speed that is difficult to simulate in practice reps.
While Tulane has been able to dominate in the trenches against South Alabama and Southern Miss, the Green Wave has not contended against a highly skilled team like Houston. Disconcertingly for Tulane backers, South Alabama posted an explosive drive rate of 23% in its game against the Green Wave. Tulane has already given up 13 passing plays longer than 20 yards.
This may be Houston’s first game of the season, but the Cougars’ offensive explosiveness may result in quick strikes against the Green Wave secondary. And since Tulane is predominantly a tempo rush team, it may have an issue keeping up with the Cougars.
Pick: Houston -6.5 or better.
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