Coach Todd Graham has the Golden Hurricane striving for larger ambitions despite tacking up a 21-7 (13-14 ATS) record the last two seasons. Tulsa has played in the Conference USA title game the last two years and came up short on both occasions. He wants the program to revert back to 2005, when Tulsa won the inaugural C-USA championship. That goal starts tonight when they visit Tulane as 13.5-point favorites. At last check, about 85% of bettors at Sportsbook.com were siding with Tulsa.
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It won’t be a simple task, since Graham has to replace a quarterback and five other offensive starters. Junior Jacob Bower has earned the inside track at quarterback, after being an understudy last season. The offensive line has to be rebuilt in order for Bower to succeed. If these elements come together quickly, Tulsa can build on its 8-3 ATS September record.
Defensively, eight players return, however, according to the coach they need to play with more conviction, after conceding 30 points or more six times last season. “Defensively, we have to get back to doing what we’ve done in the past of being successful, and that’s a relentless attitude to run to the ball and get back to a hard edge mentality defensively,” Graham said. “What we have to improve on defense is not giving away too many one play drives.”
Sportsbook.com has Tulsa as 13.5-point road favorites with total of 64 and they are just 4-7 ATS in that role under Graham.
Tulane has won six games in two years under coach Bob Toledo and everyone associated with the program understands this has to be the year to start showing positive signs. “We feel like we’ve really got to turn this thing around,” receiver Jeremy Williams told the Times-Picayune. “We’re not waiting on the future. We’ve got to do it now.”
The Green Wave welcome back seven offensive starters and redshirt sophomore Joe Kemp who won the quarterback derby. Tulane will be helped by the return of RB Andre Anderson, who was fourth in the nation in rushing and all-purpose yards when he went down to injury in game seven. They will need to score points to hang with Tulsa, however, they are just 4-10-1 ATS when getting points at home.
Tulane comes into this season with misleading defensive statistics. The Green Wave was 14th in the country in pass defense, allowing 173 yards per game. That was at least in part to surrendering 218 (5.7 yards per carry) yards per game on the ground. Senior DE Logan Kelley anchors a very experienced defensive line that must upgrade its game in 2009. Tulane is 7-23-1 ATS in its last 31 conference matchups.