Tulsa at Ohio State
Saturday, 9 am PT - ABC
CRIS Opener: Ohio State -28.5 O/U 67.5
CRIS Current: Ohio State -28.5 O/U 72.5
I provided a winning wager with Tulsa as a free play recommendation last week and I’m going to back to the well on Saturday as it heads to Ohio State. This is obviously not the greatest of spots for the Buckeyes after dominating a rebuilding Bowling Green squad 77-10 and a trip to Norman to face Oklahoma on deck. Tulsa meanwhile looked much improved as they took apart San Jose State 45-10. The Golden Hurricane closed -3.5 but ended up outgaining the Spartans by 225 yards en route to the easy win and cover. Ohio State’s offense looked spectacular last week as it piled up a mind boggling 776 yards. Bowling Green was once again outmanned defensively but unlike last season, struggled to move the football with a first-year quarterback and head coach. Tulsa is on much better footing. Third-year starting quarterback Dane Evans has a host of skill position talent surrounding him and a proven track record of being able to put points on the board. In games against Oklahoma, Houston, Memphis, Cincinnati, Navy, and Virginia Tech last season, the Golden Hurricane averaged 43 ppg. That number likely won’t be reached in this matchup but Tulsa has the weapons and experience to move the ball against a talented but youthful Ohio State defense.
Tulsa’s biggest weakness has been its inability to get stops after allowing close to 40 ppg last season. Week 1 was a step in the right direction. San Jose State was held to just 287 total yards including only 53 yards on 32 carries for a paltry 1.7 yards per rush. You obviously can’t compare San Jose to Ohio State in terms of offensive acumen but I believe the Golden Hurricane made significant offseason strides as a stop unit. Tulsa was excellent as a double-digit underdog last season with easy pointspread covers against Virginia Tech (55-52 loss catching +14), Cincinnati (49-38 loss catching +22.5), and Oklahoma (52-38 loss catching +31.5). The only time they failed to cover in that role was against Navy (44-21 catching +12.5) which was a nightmare matchup for a beaten down defense late in the season. The bottom line is Tulsa has the offensive firepower and Ohio State might not have the requisite focus for 60 minutes making the +28.5 an attractive wager.