NCAAF Friday night picks: SMU vs. Tulane, BYU vs. Houston
The Friday Night Lights are typically reserved for the prep ranks. In a bizarre coronavirus-plagued college football season, this Friday belongs to AACtion, with not one, but two games to enjoy featuring ranked teams.
We have odds and picks for SMU vs. Tulane and BYU vs. Houston, as well as Saturday's marquee games featuring Central Florida vs. Memphis and Cincinnati vs. Tulsa.
#17 SMU vs. Tulane, 6:00 p.m., ESPN
Fri, October 16 2020, 10:00 PM
Tulane Green Wave
Southern Methodist Mustangs
The Green Wave are more unpredictable than a tsunami in 2020. Arguably the most volatile team in all of college football, Tulane giveth just as quickly as they taketh away.
Against Navy, Tulane surged out to a 24-0 lead, only to then give up 27 unanswered to the triple-option team and lose on a field goal at the horn.
Last week, the Green Wave built up a 24-7 lead against Houston, a team playing in its first game of the 2020 season. Despite five turnovers by the Cougs, Houston put up 42 points in the final 2.5 quarters to win by three scores.
Tulane is college football’s version of the Atlanta Falcons.— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) October 9, 2020
Thursday, Tulane led Houston 24-7 - & lost 49-31
Last month, Tulane led Navy 24-0 - & lost 27-24
This week’s opponent has lost big leads, yet the wheels have not fallen off quite as dramatically as they have for Tulane. In a matchup between a pair of Top 25 teams a week ago, the Mustangs built up a 24-3 lead over Memphis in the second quarter, before almost squandering it all away by halftime.
Tied with just over a minute to play, quarterback Shane Buechele put SMU in scoring position to set up the game-winning 43-yard field goal.
After throwing for 474 yards and three touchdowns against Memphis, Buechele is ranked seventh in the nation in passing, with an average of 331.5 yards per game. Buechele also ranks in the top 10 in passing touchdowns and passer rating.
Even though each team has its fair share of ups and downs, SMU has a decisive advantage at quarterback to help the Mustangs steady the ship. Facing one of the nation’s worst pass defenses (ranked 55th out of 73 teams, and that includes one game against a triple-option team that didn’t pass), Buechele has enough to out-gun the Green Wave Friday night.
#15 BYU vs. Houston , 9:30 p.m. ESPN
Sat, October 17 2020, 1:30 AM
Brigham Young Cougars
If you thought Buechele was a talented passer, wait until you see the quarterback for the other Friday night road favorite.
BYU’s Zach Wilson has completed an astounding 81.6 percent of his passes through four games, the highest mark in America. He ranks third in passer rating, averaging more than 310 yards and two touchdowns per game through the air.
Wilson’s incredible play has college football fans reminiscing of a time where Steve Young was slinging it for BYU and Ty Detmer was throwing his way into Heisman lore. The first four games of the season have been impressive, but Brigham Young is untested. That changes on Friday.
It took Houston about a month longer than it expected to finally hit the gridiron. After three games were postponed by COVID-19, the Cougars started slow against Tulane. Once they turned on the jets, five turnovers couldn’t stop them from winning.
Expected to be a high-flying affair, Houston finished its opener against Tulane with positive momentum. Dana Holgorsen’s Cougars should be able to clean up the sloppy play enough to keep up with BYU and cover the spread as home dogs.
Central Florida vs. Memphis
Sat, October 17 2020, 7:30 PM
Central Florida Knights
The Knights’ offense had looked unstoppable with Dillon Gabriel leading the way. Then Central Florida hit a wall in the second half and scored just three points against Tulsa. The Knights eventually fell 34-26 to snap UCF’s 21-game home win streak. This isn’t a great bounce-back spot for UCF.
Despite the extended off time from COVID-19, Memphis quickly knocked off the rust and almost pulled off the difficult win over SMU. Playing at home and getting points, it’s hard not to take the points in what appears to be a toss-up game.
#8 Cincinnati vs. Tulsa
Sat, October 17 2020, 4:00 PM
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa’s win at UCF will make bettors think twice about this game. Don’t buy into the hype from last week’s win too much.
Cincinnati’s defense has suffocated opponents. The fifth-best scoring defense in the country has held opposing offenses to an average of 12.3 points per game.
Tulsa has one of the 10 worst scoring offenses in America. This equation isn’t too difficult to solve.