I’m laying the points with TULSA. This game sets up very much like the “Opening Day” matchup between BYU and Arizona in the Las Vegas Bowl. In that game, BYU came in with the much better record (Cougars were 10-2, Wildcats were 7-5) and also was ranked in the Top 25. Yet, Arizona, which was not ranked in the Top 25, was the favorite. Naturally, the majority of the betting public was quick to back the ranked team which was getting points. However, I felt there was good reason that the unranked Wildcats were favored and used them as my “Opening Day Main Event.” Arizona went on to win by 10 points.
Tonight, it’s Ball State which brings the better record and the Top 25 ranking to the table. Yet, its unranked Tulsa which is currently a slight favorite. Once again, I feel that there is good reason for this and the unranked team will be the one which emerges victorious. Give the Cardinals credit for having a great season. However, the schedule wasn’t exactly difficult, as Indiana was the toughest non-conference opponent. Still, the Cardinals went 12-1 and that’s impressive no matter what the schedule is like. The only problem is that the lone loss came in their last game, an upset to Buffalo in the MAC Championship game. While it can go both ways, in my experience, more often that not can be very difficult for previously undefeated teams to bounce back from a late season loss, particularly if it came in their final game. Don’t believe me? Just ask Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide! Making matters much worse, the Cardinals will have to try and “bounce back” against a very tough opponent and without their coach on the sideline. That’s because Brady Hoke (MAC Coach of the Year) has moved on to San Diego State. While Stan Parrish will surely enjoy success here, dealing with the team’s first loss while also dealing with the coaching change may be hard on the players. As Ball State Athletic Director Tom Collins noted: “Change is always difficult, and even more so for young adults…”
The Cardinals score plenty of points, finishing with an impressive 36.6 points per game during the regular season. The Golden Hurricane score even more than that though – a lot more. In fact, Tulsa averaged a whopping 47.4 points and 565.1 total yards per game, stats which were second to only Oklahoma. I expect the Golden Hurricanes to be the more focused team tonight and for them to keep piling on enough points to earn a convincing victory. *Blowout GOM