Southern Miss vs Tulane – Armed Forces Bowl Pick – January 4th

I’m not sure if everyone has realized this yet, but college football is just about over, y’all. Hey, I’m not happy either but we got to see some great games and I hope you made some good money along the way.

Including this Saturday’s matchup from south Texas, there are just 4 college football games left on the schedule this season. I cry.

While the sports betting world is hyper-focused on the national title game dream quarterback matchup of Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence, Southern Miss and Tulane are playing in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Exactly. It’s too late to cancel Christmas but you can definitely postpone that Saturday trip to Home Depot to fix the dishwasher.

Tulane and Southern Miss aren’t situated too far from one another. Just 114 miles to be exact and even shorter as the crow flies. Sorry, I can’t help it. The southerner always comes out of me when I start talking about football in, well, the south.

The Tulane Green Wave finished out the 2019 regular season like a big green wave of methane. In other words, they lost 3 in a row and 5 of 6. Each defeat was to a team with a winning record but not a good look going into a bowl game. It’s been so long, though.

They played their final game on December 1st. The Wave is 6-6 and hasn’t really beaten a team with a winning record all season. Their opponents, the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss, aren’t very good either.

They scored 7 points against the Alabama Crimson Tide and the biggest win in 2019 for the Golden Eagles was against UAB, a team that was smoked 49-6 in the Conference USA title game and lost their bowl game as well.

I don’t know how these teams are qualifying for bowls. I think there are too many of them but follow the money and you’ll find your answer.

Let’s do our best to break down these two teams, the betting lines, and make our predictions on a winner and/or point total.

Spread:

  • Tulane -7 (-110)
  • Southern Miss +7 (-110)
Money line:

  • Tulane -240
  • Southern Miss +200
Total Points:

  • Over 51.5 (-110)
  • Under 51.5 (-110)

*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag

Beginning with yards per play over the course of the season, we see that Tulane and Southern Miss are nearly equal in that regard allowing 5.9 and 6.0 respectively which is good enough for 36th and 32nd in the nation, respectively.

The Golden Eagles have been slightly outscored by their opponents this year while Tulane puts up 31 and allows around 29. Okay, those numbers are virtually identical-shout out to MMA commentator Mike Goldberg.

These next ones are literally identical-shoutout to, well, we all know someone who would say this. On defense, each squad allows 5.6 yards per play. Tulane allows opposing offenses, though, a 40% third-down conversion rate.

That’s around average for the college game but their opponents from Mississippi rank 12 in the nation allowing teams less than 1 first down conversion out of every 3 attempts.

Redzone scoring defense is about 3 percentage points to the good for Southern Miss. Right now, I’m leaning towards the Eagles.

USM did a masterful job at mixing up the passes and runs this season as they sit nearly at a clean 50/50 each way.

Here’s where it starts to get interesting.

Tulane loves to run the ball as they have done so on 61.5% of their plays from scrimmage all season long. The Wave rolls in averaging 245 yards on the ground every game while the Eagles are very stout stopping the run. They have only allowed 114 yards per game. Something will have to give here.

Just like Tulane ranks 13th in yards per rush, guess where SMU sits in the country in yards per pass? Yup, 13th with 8.7.

SMU gives the ball away an even 2 times per game while Tulane averages 8.5 penalties per contest, 3 more than the Eagles this season.

This one is really going to come down to which team is better prepared. Who got fat and lazy over the holidays? Players are kids and they had over a month off with zero competitions.

I’m sure there will be guys out there who aren’t as well prepared as they could have been but we have no way of knowing.

Southern Miss’s run defense is much better than the pass defense of Tulane and with two teams this bad, 7 points feels like a lot.

If the underdog is losing in the second half, at least they can rely on their strength to get them back in the game or within the 7 point spread, at least.

Also, it’s the passing defense of Southern Miss that is its biggest weakness and Tulane is a run first, fast, and last kinda ballclub.

As long as the Golden Eagles can manage not to turn the ball over in critical situations, I think they can hang with the Green Wave long enough for a backdoor cover if not contend for a victory.

The Bet
SOUTHERN MISS +7
-110

In Conclusion

4 games left?! Yea. It goes by so fast.

Can we petition these universities and see if we can’t squeeze out another month of college football? It’s umpteen times more fun than the NBA and that season might as well be year-round.

What is it now? October to what? July? How many free throws do you want to see James Harden make?

Anyways, my point is that we should enjoy these last few games while we have the chance.

Bowl games are excellent betting opportunities also, especially these lesser-known games which don’t appear to have gotten much attention from the sportsbooks.

This one should be fun and tune in early for the flyover!

Support your Armed Services!

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Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.