UTSA is heading to the Big Easy for a huge clash with #23 Tulane this Friday night (11/24/23). Get UTSA vs. Tulane odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is Over 52.5 points.
UTSA vs. Tulane Prediction
With a few exceptions, this is about the biggest Group of Five regular season game you’re going to see as long as the current playoff format exists. The winner of this game goes into the American Athletic Conference championship game, and based on the playoff committee’s rankings so far, will stand a pretty good chance of being selected for a New Year’s Six bowl, especially if it’s Tulane.
The Green Wave sits at #23 in the committee’s most recent rankings, a couple spots ahead of undefeated Liberty, making them the highest-ranked team from outside of the Power Five. Should they win the conference, they’d almost surely earn the New Year’s Six auto-bid that is reserved for the highest-ranked Group of Five champ. As for UTSA, with three losses, they might struggle to jump Liberty, but with a little help from the rest of Conference USA and impressive wins over Tulane and SMU, they could stand a chance.
The Roadrunners rank above Tulane in EPA per play, as they are an impressive 34th in the country, compared to 52nd for the defending conference champs. They fought hard with former AAC squad Houston, who now play in the Big 12, as the two teams played to a 17-14 final score in a gritty defensive battle. They’re one of the few Group of Five teams that stack up relatively well with Tulane’s Michael Pratt at the quarterback position; Frank Harris is also a dangerous, dynamic dual threat under center.
UTSA is going to give Tulane everything they can handle. This Green Wave team is not the juggernaut that took down Caleb Williams and USC last year, and they haven’t faced many teams as well-rounded as these Roadrunners. Most teams in the AAC don’t have the championship experience that Tulane accumulated last season, but UTSA does; they were members of Conference USA last year, which they won with a perfect conference record.
Unfortunately for the Roadrunners, that they have to go to New Orleans for this one. Tulane’s home losses are few and far between these days, and they’re often to top opposition, in tough situations, or both. For instance, their lone loss this year was at home to Ole Miss, a ranked SEC team, with Pratt unavailable, and they still stayed competitive throughout most of the contest.
These offenses are well-suited to run up the score; UTSA’s is the 22nd-fastest in the country by seconds per snap, and while Tulane doesn’t grade as well by that metric, nor by run percentage, they’re only such a run-heavy team because they so often lead for most of the game. Their passing offense grades much better, and when they need it, they use it- this game should qualify.
This is a great environment for an over; both teams desperately need this win, and they’ll push each other more than either team experiences most weeks. That being said, UTSA’s offense has already been on fire, as they’ve scored 34 or more points in each of their past seven games, cracking the 40-point plateau in four of those contests, so they should be fully able to contribute.
UTSA vs. Tulane Prediction: Over 52.5 Points
UTSA vs. Tulane Best Odds
Tulane is favored by an even three points at home, or -155 on the moneyline. You can get UTSA to win at +130 odds, and the total is set at an interesting number of 52.5 points.
UTSA vs. Tulane Key Matchups
With a pair of the conference’s biggest stars set to face off in an epic quarterback duel, both teams will be working through the air in search of big plays this Friday afternoon.
Tulane Passing Attack Vs. UTSA Air Defense
Pratt’s numbers may not jump off the page the way they did last year, as he’s missed a couple games, but in some ways he’s been more efficient than he was before. His completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating are all up from last year, so he really hasn’t missed a beat. Lawrence Keys III and Chris Brazzell II have served as Pratt’s top targets, providing him with some downfield options even while playing behind a mediocre offensive line.
They’ll have to contend with a UTSA defense that ranks 30th in the nation in EPA per play against the pass, due in large part to a pass rush that ranks 41st in PFF’s grading system. Trey Moore leads the team, and nearly the country, with a remarkable 14 sacks, as he’s led the effort from the edge. UTSA’s coverage unit isn’t as strong outside of top corner Kam Alexander, but the pass rush could overwhelm the Tulane line and give Pratt some real issues.
UTSA Passing Attack Vs. Tulane Air Defense
Harris has more or less matched Pratt’s production this season, but the receiving production hasn’t been as equally distributed. Joshua Cephus is the clear top target, with totals of 966 yards, 76 catches and nine scores all leading the team, while Tykee Ogle-Kellogg is the deep threat, as he’s averaged 17.7 yards per catch and scored seven touchdowns of his own. Overall, the unit is a formidable 37th in the country in EPA per play on passing snaps.
Tulane’s pass defense ranks 30th by the same metric, a nearly perfect match. That success is driven largely by a robust pass rush, which ranks 26th in PFF’s grading system. They’re led by edge rusher Darius Hodges with 7.5 sacks, and a remarkable pass rush win rate of 23%. The secondary is highlighted by cornerback Lance Robinson and DJ Douglas, who have combined for seven interceptions, while linebacker Jared Small has done well with underneath routes.