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Tulsa vs. East Carolina

Betting Line - Analysis

9/5/10

Very interesting game between two teams likely headed in opposite directions. It can be much easier to handicap an early season college football game involving teams from major conferences. Certain teams are always going to have talent regardless of how many starters they lose. But when you are dealing with a conference such as Conference USA, you really never know what you're going to get. For East Carolina, the cupboard is bare. Half the players that were there a year ago are history. They return just 2 players on defense and 4 on offense, and they lose the coach that was responsible for their recent success, Skip Holtz.

Tulsa on the other hand, after winning, 8, 10, and 11 games for 3 straight years, had a very disappointing 2009 going 5-7. Improvement is expected in 2010. They have just about their entire offense back from last year and still maintain some key defensive players as well.

The betting line on this game opened up Tulsa -7 and has risen to as high as -9 in some spots, making Tulsa a hefty road favorite to open the year. If the reasons mentioned above aren't enough to explain why they are favored so heavily on the road, here's one more......Revenge! Other than a 45-0 loss to Oklahoma last year, their worst defeat was a 44-17 setback at home, to East Carolina. You can be sure that each and every Tulsa Golden Hurricane player has been reminded of that score over and over again.

It's not as if Tulsa was "bad" last year. Other than the Oklahoma and East Carolina games, they were competitive each time out. They played some good teams close, such as Boise State, where they lost by just a touchdown, and Houston where they lost a 46-45 shootout. A bounce here and there and their 5-7 season could easily have been a winning year. No reason not to expect improvement in 2010.

We really don't like to lay points in college football. We prefer to find value with underdogs. We especially don't like to lay points on the road in conference games and we sure as heck don't like laying points in games where the line has already moved against us, which is the case here. We'd consider the Tulsa side at -7 or less here. Where the line is now, we'd pass the game.

That being said, it seems likely that Tulsa wins this game. They should have the better talent and without a doubt have the added motivation of avenging a humiliating home loss a year ago. So we'll make a slight lean towards Tulsa -8 which is still available at a few sportsbooks.

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