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Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. South Florida Bulls Point Spread - Pick

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-8 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. South Florida Bulls (8-1 SU, 4-5 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: TLSA +22/USF -22
Over/Under Total: 68

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane come into Raymond James Stadium on Thursday for an AAC matchup with the South Florida Bulls. On one hand, we see the 8-1 Bulls, riding high and looking for a big finish to a successful campaign. The Golden Hurricane, meanwhile, are 2-8, looking to play the role of spoiler. These conference teams haven't played since 2014. South Florida looks to be a lot stronger, but Tulsa has been tough in certain spots this season. South Florida last played on the 4th in a 37-20 win over Connecticut. Tulsa last played on the 3rd, in a 41-14 loss to Memphis. Who can get the win and cover at Raymond James Stadium this week?

South Florida has been cruising lately for the most part, a 4-point loss to Houston a few weeks ago being their only setback of the season. Both teams come into this game with nearly a two-week break from their last games. Even though South Florida beat UConn on the road by 17 in their last game, they haven't covered the spread in the last 3 games and aren't in quite the same form we saw in mid-season as they were pounding teams like Illinois, Temple, ECU, and Cincinnati. Maybe a little extra time off could help, as they had perhaps been run a bit ragged. At their best, they're a team that offers a lot of balance on both sides of the ball. They can really run the heck out of the ball and air it out with effectiveness, as well. And on defense, they are giving up less than 20 points a game on average, while being tough across most areas.

The Bulls' offense is led by a dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers. He should pass 2000 yards passing early in this game, while he has also added 751 yards rushing with 9 touchdowns. With D'Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice, along with Flowers, they can really apply an effective and steady ground-game, probably the best in the conference. Aerially, Flowers have been efficient at times, but it hasn't quite taken hold as some would have thought. Flowers works well with a good weapon in receiver Marquez Valdez-Scantling, as well as Tyre McCants and Darnell Salomon. This offense puts up an average on nearly 40 points a game.

The South Florida defense is actually pretty good—a balanced unit that can get a lot of things done. They have been really good against the opposing run-game, with very few teams able to exploit them on the ground. Through the air, they're nearly as good. And what makes them a difference-making unit is their propensity toward making big plays. No team in the entire nation has picked off more balls than this defense with 18 interceptions, led by S Devin Abraham, CB Deatrick Nichols, and CB Mazzi Wilkins. And they have the most-robust pass-rush in the conference, led by Bruce Hector and Mike Love up-front applying the pressure.

It's not easy to sugar-coat a 2-8 record. That's not how Tulsa saw things panning out. But for all their issues, they've been able to retain a certain spoiler vibe. Four of those eight losses were close ones. They covered the spread against both Toledo and SMU—two of the better teams in the conference, losing only narrowly. So while they are 2-8 with a defense that has sometimes sunk to comedic levels this season, they aren't always the easy-pickings some suspect they will be.

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The Tulsa offense isn't so awful, putting up a per-game average of 31 points. But with a "D" that gives up an average of 38 points a game, that's how you end up going 2-8. Offensively, they aren't that good at airing it out. QB Luke Skipper has taken over in recent weeks and the results haven't been appreciably better. They rely on a strong run-game. With D'Angelo Brewer, they can get a lot done, but will miss Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor, who are both injured. They also get some good ground-work from their quarterbacks, though Skipper isn't as adept in that area as his predecessor Chad President. Aerially, they rely on Justin Hobbs and Keenen Johnson. But despite almost 1300 combined yards between the two, they have only found the end zone a combined three times.

The big issue for Tulsa is a defense that can often be exploited, even by offenses that aren't very good. Only two teams in the whole nation yield more yardage than the 547.5 yards per game this defense allows on average. They are nearly equally-inept against the pass and the run. Teams have run the ball on them with gusto this season, with opposing quarterbacks often having a feeding frenzy. There have been a few big performances from this group, giving up just 17 in a big win against Houston, for example. So there has been a wide range of form, but it's usually toward the bad end of that equation for the Golden Hurricane "D." Making it worse is how few big plays they make, whether it is turnovers, sacks, or anything that could aid the overall team cause. More often than not, this side of the ball has been a huge liability this season.

At home and against a 2-8 team, South Florida can't afford to overlook a team that can be quite effective, especially when not taken seriously. But after an extended break, I'd expect head coach Charlie Strong to have his team ready to take this stretch run of the regular season seriously. There are some big things on the table for the one-loss Bulls in Strong's first season at the helm. Tulsa, meanwhile, is still trying, but probably looking for the finish line at this point. And with a lot of their offensive firepower on the shelf, I don't see how they keep pace with the Bulls on Thursday.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the South Florida Bulls minus 22 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Tulsa vs. South Florida game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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