The Tulsa Golden Hurricane return to the field as they face the South Florida Bulls on the road at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, in Friday night college football at 7:30 pm EST. Tulsa's contest versus the 8th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats last weekend was postponed due to Covvid 19 concerns, however, they picked up an eight point win in their last time out on October 3rd on the road versus the Knights of Central Florida as 20.5 point dogs, covering the spread for the 2nd-straight time this year (2-0 ATS). The Bulls covered the spread in three of their five games on the season (including going 3-1 versus the AAC) when they played a solid matchup versus the Temple Owls on the road last Saturday as double-digit underdogs (14).
The Golden Hurricane have gone winless straight up in their last three contests versus their American Athletic Conference foe, yet has covered the number in two of those matchups, including as ten point dogs in their most recent battle in 2018. Currently, the Golden Hurricane are favored by 10 points, up from 9.5 at opening.
Tulsa seeks 2nd-straight victoryIt is important to begin by saying that two of Tulsa's games this season have been canceled, with the most recent being due to concerns over several of the Bearcats' players coming down with Covvid 19 symptoms. Nonetheless, I expect the team to be motivated to take the field once again versus a defense for the Bulls that is not only allowing 34 points per game thus far but has been even worse in preventing the rush. And while Tulsa is putting up just 21 points per game in two games in 2020, the rushing attack has been their most consistent in averaging 138 yards per in those contests while also coming off a 34-point output versus the Knights with the rushing attack racking up 165 yards on the ground.
Sophomore Denerik Prince (134 yds), along with junior T.K. Wilkerson (112 yds, TD) are the running back combination that the Golden Hurricane relies on to jumpstart the offense. The latter is coming off a decent rushing night versus Central Florida, while Prince is averaging over five yards per rush in 2020. Nonetheless, the Golden Hurricane needs to ramp up their air attack to stay competitive in this contest as the Bulls enter as the 12th ranked pass defense in the nation.
Of course, this means that senior Keylon Stokes (150 yds, TD) must step up along with seniors Josh Johnson (132 yds, 2 TD's) and Sam Crawford, Jr. (TD). Senior QBZack Smithis completing 61% of his passes on the year for just 439 yards, four TD's, along with two picks. Yet, he is coming off his best performance of the year in racking up 273 yards while having a TD to INT ratio of 3:1 in their win over the Knights (despite completing just 58% of his passes).
Tulsa has practiced a bend-but-not-break mentality thus far as they are coming off a matchup to where they gave up over 300+ yards passing. Nonetheless, while the unit has not been stellar in stopping the run or the pass, Tulsa allows just 21 points per game. Tulsa has had much more of a problem stopping the run thus far in 2020, allowing over 130 yards per game in each of their two games. To make matters worse, the Bulls are putting up an average of 145 yards per game, including posting 143 two weeks ago.
Despite this, linebackerZaven Collins(13 tackles, INT, three sacks) along with defensive lineman Anthony Goodlow (2 sacks) are the leaders of the unit and will attempt to limit the damage from South Florida's rushing attack.
South Florida seeks to avoid 5th-straight defeatThe defense for the Bulls is not only allowing 34 points per game in 2020 but are giving up 41 points during their four-game losing skid while going 2-2 against the spread. The unit has certainly not been effective in preventing the run in five games, as apparent by this stat (opponents rushing for 205 yards per game). And while the secondary is ranked 12th in the nation in giving up 173 yards in the air, the unit allowed over 300 yards passing to the Owls in their heartbreaking defeat Saturday.
Furthermore, freshman cornerback Christopher Townsel (4 tackles, INT) may not be able to suit up for the contest due to undisclosed reasons. One can then conclude that the Golden Hurricane will indeed be seeking to get more physical in the trenches in addition to taking more shots downfield throughout this contest.
Junior QB Jordan McCloud began the season very slow in throwing for just 269 yards, one touchdown toss, along with two picks in his first two starts. However, he rebounded in his two most recent outings in putting up just under 500 yards total while posting three touchdowns alongside no picks versus Temple. He is completing 64% of his passes while having found the most confidence on the outside in senior DeVontres Dukes (183 yds, 2 TD's) along with freshman Omarion Dollison (7 rec, 148 yds), who combined for seven catches for 105 yards with Dukes catching a touchdown.
Running back Johnny Ford has been the leading rusher for the Bulls' offense, putting up 265 yards on the ground while posting three rushing TDs. He has also caught 14 passes for 126 yards and a TD (9 ypc). Ford has scored three touchdowns in his last three contests yet could not reach paydirt versus Temple, despite having his best workload of the season in having 15 carries for 68 yards. Expect him to enter this contest with confidence as the junior is averaging nearly six yards per carry.
Stats & Trends
- Golden Hurricane are 4-1 ATS in last 5 games
- Golden Hurricane are 7-1 ATS in last 8 games
- Bulls are 2-4 ATS in last 6 home games
The Golden Hurricane may have played just two games on the year, however, when considering how atrocious the Bulls have been at stopping the run this season, expect them to ride Wilkerson and Prince early and often in the contest to soften up South Florida within the trenches. And while the Bulls' secondary is ranked 12th in the nation, I have a strong feeling that this area is just as suspect as they were destroyed by the Owls in last weekend's matchup.
Also, the Bulls are less than .500 in covering the number as double-digit underdogs in five of their last eight games, along with Tulsa being strong against the number on the road (7-1 ATS in previous eight roadies). Look for the Golden Hurricane to get back into the swing of things very early Friday night as they cover in their 3rd straight of 2020.