UCF vs Tulane Odds & Picks: How to Bet the Green Wave Offense

UCF vs Tulane Odds & Picks: How to Bet the Green Wave Offense article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt (left) and running back Tyjae Spears (right).

UCF vs Tulane Odds

Saturday, Dec. 3
4 p.m. ET
UCF Odds
-115o / -105u
Tulane Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The AAC has been nothing more than the most entertaining carnival ride when it comes to the attendees and location of the championship game.

Cincinnati and Houston both failed to finish strong in the month of November, allowing Central Florida and Tulane to rise in conference standings.

The Knights secured a crucial victory over the Green Wave in Week 11, only to lose home-field advantage in a subsequent loss to Navy. Yulman Stadium will once again serve as a backdrop for these teams looking to earn the title of conference champion with a probable New Years' Six bowl berth.

UCF head coach Gus Malzahn is seeking his first-ever AAC Championship in his second year at Central Florida. With an SEC and Sun Belt Championship already in the hardware cabinet, Malzahn is looking to make his first trip back to a New Year's Six game since Auburn competed in the 2018 Peach Bowl, ultimately losing to his current team.

Tulane head coach Willie Fritz looks to bring a conference title for Tulane, the first since a 1998 crown in Conference USA. Famous for expanding the triple option at Georgia Southern, Fritz had never been a head coach at the Power Five level before his stop in New Orleans.

There may not be a better candidate for Coach of the Year, as Fritz leads FBS with a 10-2 mark against the spread this season.

Central Florida Knights

There's no reason to think Central Florida will not execute the same plan that won this very game less than a month ago.

Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee missed the second half of the South Florida game with a hamstring injury, putting his status for the championship game in question.

Plumlee's performance on the ground was essential in the win over Tulane, as he provided 169 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Of the 18 rushing attempts, only one was a scramble.

A healthy Plumlee is paramount to Central Florida's offensive success in the AAC Championship.

John Rhys Plumlee 20 yard TD run! #UCFpic.twitter.com/9nZrKPx2Cd

— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) November 27, 2022

While the offensive explosiveness has come all on the ground, Central Florida is successful on long down and distances. The Knights rank 20th in Passing Downs Success Rate that's juxtaposed next to a rank of 10th in third-down conversion rate.

The offensive line is graded as the second-best nationally by PFF in pass blocking — an element that will become an important factor when backup quarterback Mikey Keene is under center.

Defensive coordinator Travis Williams has been a staple on Malzahn's staff. The former Auburn linebacker and graduate assistant for the 2010 national title team runs a 3-3-5 scheme with a varying number of players standing at the line of scrimmage.

The scheme has allowed UCF to place top-25 against the explosive pass but outside the top 100 against the explosive run.

A mid-FBS Havoc rating covers up the lack of interceptions this season, as just five of the Knights' 50 passes defensed have been hauled in for a turnover.

UCF has found strengths in Defensive Finishing Drives and red-zone defense, but Tulane exposed scoring situations with three touchdown passes within six yards of the goal line.

Tulane Green Wave

In the first season under offensive coordinator Jim Svoboda, the Green Wave have been efficient in scoring opportunities. In 72 drives that crossed the opponents' 40-yard line, Tulane has averaged 4.5 points for a rank of 19th in Finishing Drives.

The Green Wave scored 31 total points in five scoring opportunities against this UCF defense, nearly maxing out against one of college football's best red-zone stop units.

Quarterback Michael Pratt is having his best season to date, cutting his turnover-worthy play rate by more than half from 2021.

The bread-and-butter of Tulane's offense has been the ground attack, with a split ratio of zone and gap rush attempts. Tyjae Spears has been a force on the ground, averaging 3.8 yards after contact while accumulating nearly 1,200 yards on the ground.

Spears and Pratt have combined for 25 rushing touchdowns this season, giving every defense a reason to lock down the rush when defending Tulane.

The Tulane defense continues to contrast in different areas. The Green Wave secondary ranks fifth in coverage nationally, allowing just 2.5 passes per game to exceed 20 yards. Cornerback Jarius Monroe has twice as many pass breakups as any other player on the defense.

The ability to stop the explosive pass in any down and distance has worked well for a defense that has consistent issues stopping the run.

Tulane sits outside the top 100 in Defensive Line Yards and Stuff Rate. The Green Wave play a healthy amount of defensive snaps in standard downs after allowing more than 100 first downs to opposing rushing this season.

Linebacker play is crucial for the defense, as both Nick Anderson and Dorian Williams rank top-60 individually in stops, per PFF.

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UCF vs Tulane Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UCF and Tulane match up statistically:

UCF Offense vs. Tulane Defense
Rush Success1459
Line Yards9105
Pass Success1859
Pass Blocking**281
Finishing Drives5376
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Tulane Offense vs. UCF Defense
Rush Success5530
Line Yards4741
Pass Success3979
Pass Blocking**3291
Finishing Drives1931
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling6454
PFF Coverage735
SP+ Special Teams8662
Seconds per Play24.7 (32)27.0 (81)
Rush Rate59.1% (27)60.0% (22)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

UCF vs Tulane Betting Pick

The biggest question heading into the game is Plumlee's health. Malzahn said after the USF game that his quarterback's hamstring has been a chronic issue through the end of the season.

Only Plumlee and Malzahn know if there will be a limited snap count or a modified playbook to take out designed rushing attempts.

#UCF coach Gus Malzahn told us QB John Rhys Plumlee is dealing with a hamstring injury. Malzahn said Plumlee wanted to return but ultimately Malzahn felt like it was the safe decision to keep him out.

— Jason Beede (@therealBeede) November 27, 2022

The handicap for this game comes down to the difference between Central Florida's two quarterbacks.

Plumlee was the biggest factor for UCF's victory over Tulane a month ago, averaging nearly 10 yards a carry. Increased snaps for Keene is an advantage for Tulane, as the Central Florida backup has posted just 10 rushing yards this season.

Tulane battled UCF to the end because of its success in scoring opportunities. Spears averaged a massive 16.3 yards per carry on eight rushing attempts, busting a 70-yard scamper to put the Green Wave inside the 10-yard line for their first touchdown.

Once Tulane fell down, 24-7, Spears' rushing attempts were traded out for Pratt's passing attempts. The Tulane offense is most comfortable methodically going downfield at 27 seconds per play, leaning on the dual ground attack in scoring opportunities.

Both the point spread and total are linked to Plumlee's mobility. If Plumlee's hamstring were fully healthy, it would drive plenty of tickets on the Knights and an over. Meanwhile, increased snaps for Keene would favor Tulane and the under.

Both of these offenses had a field day in scoring position when they played each other, and more of the same can be expected in the AAC Championship.

With Plumlee's health in question, look for Tulane to find similar offensive success. If the Green Wave can match the 6.2 points per scoring opportunity from a month ago, this number will go over the total.

Pick: Tulane TT Over 30.5 or Better

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