Tulsa Golden Hurricane
(5-7, 5-6-1 ATS in 2009)
East Carolina Pirates
(9-5, 7-6 ATS in 2009)
It isn’t often that you see two teams playing a conference game right at the outset of the season, but for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and the East Carolina Pirates, the prime college football betting action gets started right away on Sunday afternoon.
Tulsa was one of those teams last season that seemed to get it all together just a tad too late to make a run. The team averaged 410.1 yards per game and parlayed that into 29.2 points per game, but the defense struggled at times and big plays just weren’t happening on either side of the ball. QB GJ Kinne is determined to change that mindset this year, as the Golden Hurricane are once again a favorite in Conference USA. Kinne led the team in both passing (2,732 yards, 22 TDs, 10 INTs) and rushing (399 yards, 5 TDs). Men like Jamad Williams and Charles Clay are going to have to step up in the backfield for the Golden Hurricane to keep up with some of the best offenses that this conference has to offer, though. Expect to see big things out of WR Damaris Johnson this season and in this opening game of the year. He is only a junior this season, but he already has 131 receptions and nearly 2,000 yards on his career in the receiving game, and he has tallied a total of 5,164 all purpose yards in just two years. Needless to say, Johnson will be all over the field once again for Tulsa.
The Pirates might have won Conference USA last year, but they certainly aren’t expected to duplicate that performance this season. ECU is now without HC Skip Holtz, who really built this program into the conference tycoon Also gone are both QB Patrick Pinkney and RB Dominique Lindsay. Last year’s reserve running back and this year’s projected starter, RB Brandon Jackson was booted off the team. Yes, things are getting hairier by the minute for the Pirates right now, and the ship might be sinking. This team isn’t anywhere near as strong this season as they were in years past, and both the offensive and defensive numbers should really lack for it. Based upon what we see, at least on paper before the games are played, the Conference USA champs from last year will be fortunate just to make a bowl game in 2010. The only hope might be that there is enough of a holdover from the defense which allowed just 21.9 points per game last season to carry ECU to some ‘W’s.
This won’t be one of those games that ends in a victory, though. Yes, ECU is full of spirit and the program is always one that finds ways to spit out quality ball players, but this squad is just significantly different now that Holtz is gone. Tulsa is a team that is on the uptick, and the oddsmakers have this one 100% right. As long as Mother Nature cooperates, the Golden Hurricane are going to roll into Greenville and escape town with a comfortable victory.
Selection: Tulsa Golden Hurricane -8.5