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3* UTEP +14.5 over Tulsa - Tough to pass up two touchdowns in a game that has all the makings of a classic shoot out with the last team with the ball getting the win. These two teams have a couple of things in common starting with their weak schedules. Both teams play an incredibly soft schedule. I mean, heck, we're talking about Conference USA here. Tulsa's record of 6-1 sure does look good on paper, as does their defense giving up 14, 10 and 6 in their last 3 games. But two of those games were against 1-6 Memphis and 3-4 East Carolina. If you look at their schedule, their most impressive win was the 20-6 win over Southern Miss. When they stepped up in class to play BYU, they were spanked to the tune of 49-24. They played at NAVY and barely escaped with a win, 24-23. So much for stellar defense. For those keeping track at home, Navy lost to Rutgers 34-0. That should give you an idea of just how unimpressive this 7-1 record is.
UTEP no bargain either. Like Tulsa, they can put points on the board. But they can't stop anyone. They have given up some big time points to some bad football teams. But they did hang tough with a decent 5-3 Texas Tech team and they led 5-3 Houston (who almost beat Miami) 17-10 at the half.
What stands out most in this game, is that these two teams are very familiar with each other. BOTH teams returned 7 players on offense, and 9 players on defense this year. So just about all of the guys who were on the field for this game last year, will be on the field this year. Why is that important? Because last years game saw UTEP pull out a 41-38 win in a game that was tied on 5 different occasions! Talk about close. In 2004 it was Tulsa squeaking by 37-35. So this UTEP squad not only knows it can play with Tulsa, it knows it can beat them. Confidence on the UTEP side of the ball shouldn't be a problem Friday Night.
This is a HUGE Conference USA game as Tulsa is 3-0 in the Conference while UTEP is right on their heels at 2-1 and very much in contention. Getting +14.5 points in an important match up that the dog can certainly win straight up is just too much to pass up here. We make Tulsa about a 6 point choice here, but certainly would not be surprised to see UTEP win. If you look at most 14 point college football favorites, it's safe to say that seeing the dog win outright would be a pretty big upset. We just don't think a UTEP win here would classify as a big upset.
Both teams can score. Both teams can be vulnerable defensively. The last two have been close as can be and this one has big Conference implications.
3* UTEP +14.5 OVER TULSA