Tulsa vs. SMU prediction: Golden Hurricane will cover

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VSiN’s college football expert is putting his money on a couple of underdogs on Saturday afternoon.

Tulsa at SMU (-6.5, 62.5)

Tulsa needs to win this game to have a crack at bowl eligibility. It would be a major accomplishment for Philip Montgomery’s team after opening the season with a loss to UC Davis, followed by Oklahoma State and Ohio State. This is actually one of the better 5-6 teams in the country, as Tulsa ranks in the top 50 in offensive yards per play and just barely outside the top 60 in defensive yards per play allowed.

SMU’s season has really hit the skids. After starting 7-0, the Mustangs lost on a walk-off kick return touchdown against Houston and have now lost three of the past four games. Reports are that TCU is keyed in on SMU head coach Sonny Dykes to be the next sideline boss in Fort Worth. SMU and TCU is a big-time rivalry, and the idea of Dykes going to the Horned Frogs can’t sit well with anybody involved.

The SMU offense has really bottomed out of late and has managed just 5.95 yards per play in conference action. The AAC is not exactly known for defense, but the Mustangs have not been firing on all cylinders for a while now.

Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery
Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery
AP

Tulsa is a team on a mission. SMU is just waiting to find out which bowl game is in their future. The Golden Hurricane are getting a few too many points in this game. I think it should be closer to 3.5 or maybe even 3 with the way the teams are trending and what is at stake. Sprinkle the moneyline here, too. Tulsa could very well win outright.

Burke’s bet: Tulsa +6.5 with a Tulsa moneyline sprinkle (+185).

UL Monroe at Louisiana (-21.5, 54.5)

The Battle on the Bayou takes place on Saturday between Louisiana-Monroe and the team formerly known as Louisiana-Lafayette. Last year’s game ended 70-20 in favor of the Ragin’ Cajuns after the previous two games were nail-biters at 31-30 and 31-28, both in favor of the Cajuns.

Louisiana has the Sun Belt Championship Game on deck against Appalachian State. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 0-2 against the Mountaineers in SBC title games and were not able to play for the title last year because of COVID-19 cases with Coastal Carolina. This unlucky team has won the West Division all three years with a title game and has zero conference championships to show for it.

While this is a rivalry game, Louisiana is liable to be looking ahead to App. State. Along with that distraction, head coach Billy Napier is being courted by Florida, among other programs, so he may be moving on at the end of the season.

The Warhawks have been extremely well-coached by Terry Bowden and are one of the most improved teams in the nation. Their results from this season include big upset wins over Troy (+23.5) and Liberty (+32.5) and they were very competitive last week against LSU.

Louisiana has the talent to win this game in a big way, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have not shown much of a killer instinct throughout the season. I think the Warhawks can hang around here and make this one interesting.

Burke’s bet: UL Monroe +21.5.

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