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Tulane vs. South Alabama Betting Odds & Pick: Will the Green Wave Expose the Jaguars? (Saturday, Sept. 12)

Tulane vs. South Alabama Betting Odds & Pick: Will the Green Wave Expose the Jaguars? (Saturday, Sept. 12) article feature image

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Tulane Green Wave football team.

  • South Alabama and Tulane meet on Saturday night in a matchup that should help define season expectations for both teams.
  • The Green Wave must evaluate if Keon Howard is an apt successor to Justin McMillan at quarterback.
  • Meanwhile, South Alabama must reveal its true colors: Are the Jaguars ready to take the next step as a program? Or was their Week 1 victory over Southern Miss a fluke?

Tulane vs. South Alabama Odds

Tulane Odds -10.5 [BET NOW]
South Alabama Odds +10.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -435/+330 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 52 [BET NOW]
Time 7:30 p.m. ET

Odds as of Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

South Alabama hit the biggest moneyline upset of Week 1, dispatching Southern Miss with ease 32-21 in Hattiesburg. The road victory represents a massive jump for a USA program that was reeling after a 2-10 campaign in head coach Steve Campbell’s first season in Mobile.

The next challenge for South Alabama is to prove that its opening week win against Southern Miss was a product of the Jaguars’ aptitude rather than the Golden Eagles’ present state of turmoil.

This also presents difficulties for gamblers trying to decipher whether the Jaguars really improved that dramatically year-over-year, or if they were simply facing a rudderless opponent that was unable to handle its off-field distractions.

Early line movement (TU-11.5 → TU-8.5) saw a preponderance of tickets (63%) on Tulane, but big money appears to be moving in favor of South Alabama (62%).

Are sharps sniffing out a repeat performance from South Alabama, or will Tulane’s triple-option offense create problems for their Sun Belt opponent?

Check out our free NCAAF odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.

Encouraging Signs for Jaguars Offense

Examining South Alabama’s opener, it’s clear to see that the Jags are far more explosive on offense than they were in 2019 — when the Jags ranked 114th in plays of 20 or more yards for the season.

In the first half alone against Southern Miss, USA’s sophomore signal-caller Desmond Trotter connected on a 73-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Tolbert and a beautiful 49-yard back-shoulder throw to Jalen Wayne. The Jaguars proved in one evening of football that they can produce chunk plays and also have the passing game to stretch a defense both vertically and horizontally.

Green Wave Defensive Outlook

Defensively, Tulane regressed down the stretch in 2019, in part because of an injury to All-AAC linebacker Patrick Johnson (torn labrum). Now healthy, Johnson rejoins a Green Wave front-seven that returns four starters and adds Power Five-transfer linebacker Kevin Henry. As a result, Tulane should improve in run defense after allowing 156 yards per game and 4.32 yards per carry last season.

Stifling and effectively forcing South Alabama away from its ground game early would be beneficial for defensive coordinator Jack Curtis. Since taking over as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator in 2018, Kenny Edenfield’s offenses have averaged 252.2 rushing yards per game in their victories and just 137.9 per game in losses.

Despite South Alabama’s strides in terms of explosive plays, the Jags’ Trotter is still a gambler with the football, reporting a 4.8% interception rate over his last three starts. With an interception rate that high, forcing South Alabama to put it in the air 30 or more times would be a wise game plan for Tulane.

The Green Wave secondary was especially ball-hawkish in 2019, ranking among the top 35 teams in passes defended and interceptions. Tulane’s coverage unit retains a pair of playmaking safeties that will almost certainly impact Saturday night’s game.

Willie Fritz’s Triple-Option

Willie Fritz’s option offense is no picnic to prepare for, and the fact that this game was scheduled on August 6th is favorable for the Green Wave. South Alabama does have the advantage of annually facing Georgia Southern, a program and offense once run by Willie Fritz.

Nonetheless, Fritz’s offense at Tulane is clearly distinctive from the Eagles’ variant. Green Wave offensive coordinator Will Hall tailors the offense and pass-rate to his particular quarterback rather than executing a “system” offense.

Tulane’s Ace in the Hole

The spark plug for that offense this season is redshirt senior quarterback Keon Howard, who was officially named the team’s starter last week. Howard started nine games for Southern Miss in 2017 before transferring to Tulane, and he saw action in four games last season.

The former three-star prospect from Mississippi powerhouse Laurel High is the perfect triggerman for Tulane’s option attack, possessing the requisite experience to make the offense sing.

And in a year with so much uncertainty, the fact that both Fritz and Hall have publicly praised their fifth-year quarterback for dominating fall practice gives me confidence that the Green Wave will be able to move the ball effectively.

It also doesn’t hurt that Tulane’s offensive line returns five players this fall that have starting experience, including NFL prospect Corey Dublin at guard.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Check out our new CFB PRO Report, where we highlight factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.

Given the reasons for optimism on both sides, this pick came down to line movement, which broke through the key number of 10. I believe the value is in backing the road favorite and relying on a talented option attack to give an emerging but young South Alabama defense fits.

Pick: Tulane-9

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