Tulane hosts North Texas on Saturday (10/21/23) in an intriguing AAC matchup. In this article, find a full matchup preview and the latest betting odds. In addition, find our best bet which is Tulane -20.
North Texas Mean Green Vs. Tulane Green Wave Prediction
Last Friday, Tulane earned its first road win over Memphis since 1998, and it was Tulane’s seventh straight road win. Now, the Green Wave returns home for a matchup against a North Texas team coming off its first AAC win. The Mean Green are off to a 1-1 start in conference play with a brand new coaching staff and quarterback.
North Texas has played the second-easiest schedule in the country by FPI, however, and they haven’t faced an FBS program with a winning record all season. Meanwhile, Tulane ranks 28th in strength of record as their five wins have come by an average of 18 points per game. They also played very close with Ole Miss despite quarterback Michael Pratt being out.
Pratt has since returned to the lineup, and he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the Group of Five. However, it’s Makhi Hughes who has really caught my attention these past two weeks. I had concerns about Tulane replacing Tyjae Spears this season, but Hughes, a true freshman, has stepped up with back to back games with 120+ rushing yards.
North Texas’s run defense should provide a great opportunity for Hughes to continue that production and Pratt should have plenty of success throwing the ball. The Mean Green rank 12th in pace of play, so they’ll spot Tulane extra possessions. That’s problematic in a game where their defense is outmatched.
Willie Fritz will become Tulane’s all time leader in games coached on Saturday, and his team is arguably the class of the Group of Five. North Texas has a huge jump up in competition level here, and it will be a shock to the system, especially in front of what will be a raucous crowd in New Orleans.
North Texas Vs. Tulane Prediction: Tulane -20
North Texas Vs. Tulane Best Odds
NTX @ TULANE
Oct. 21, 2:30 PM
Odds updated October 21st, 2023, at 5:45 pm
Tulane is currently favored by 20 points at home in this AAC matchup, which has come up a bit from an opener of -19.5. The total currently sits at 63 points, so the oddsmakers are projecting a final score of around 41-21.
North Texas Vs. Tulane Key Matchups
This was always going to be a mismatch for North Texas, but the emergence of running back Makhi Hughes means the Mean Green are overmatched against the run and pass. Let’s take a look at both here.
Michael Pratt Vs. North Texas’s Pass Defense
Michael Pratt is arguably the best quarterback in the Group of Five, and while he dealt with a knee injury earlier in the season, he remains incredibly dynamic. His deep ball has been in full force this season as he’s completing an impressive 55.6% of his 20+ yard throws – that’s tied for the ninth-best mark in the country per PFF.
North Texas’s defense grades out pretty well against the pass, but they’ve faced four backups, an FCS team, and Navy who doesn’t throw the ball. In its first matchup against a high level quarterback, I expect this defense to struggle mightily. They simply don’t have the defensive backs to match up here.
After an up and down first half, #Tulane QB Michael Pratt completed 7 of 9 his passes in the second half and showed his NFL level traits against Memphis.
His eye manipulation of the defense allowed him to throw dig routes over the MOF and hold safeties on vertical routes. pic.twitter.com/yS1iMriFdI
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 14, 2023
Makhi Hughes Vs. North Texas’s Run Defense
True freshman Makhi Hughes has taken the mantle from Tyjae Spears, and he’s emerging as a difference maker. Hughes had 22 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns against UAB. He followed it up with 26 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown against Memphis. Hughes will help keep defenses honest so they can’t just key in on the pass.
North Texas runs a 3-3-5 defense that’s very weak up front as they rank 130th in rushing EPA/play allowed. The Mean Green have allowed 274.4 rushing yards per game, which leads the FBS by a sizable margin – the next-closest team has allowed 230.8. Hughes should continue his breakout this week.
— Colton Pool (@CPoolReporter) September 30, 2023