Line: Tulane -4
UCF vs Tulane Breakdown and Betting Odds
The No. 22 UCF Knights (9-3) are heading to Louisiana for the AAC Championship Game against the No. 18 Tulane Green Wave (10-2) on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Green Wave are 4-point favorites. The over/under is set at 56.5 points.
UCF has dominated the all-time series, winning 10 of 12 matchups. UCF is undefeated at home against Tulane, and they have won the last five meetings overall. This includes a 7-point win in New Orleans on November 12th. Tulane’s last win over UCF came in 2015 when UCF went winless. If there is any solace for Tulane, they have held the last two matchups within a margin of a touchdown.
UCF is looking for its fifth AAC title. They last won in 2018, the second year of their back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. UCF did not begin the season ranked, but after stunning then No. 20 Cincinnati before Halloween, UCF jumped into the rankings. They have remained ranked since then, ascending as high as No. 17. They went 6-2 in AAC play, beating both ranked teams they played, including Tulane. UCF has had a difficult stretch of traveling, playing four of their last five games on the road. Regardless, UCF has a balanced attack, and they have many ways to win.
It begins with the nation’s No. 24 offense. UCF is pouring in just short of 35 points per game. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee has been particularly strong as a dual threat. He has 13 passing touchdowns and 11 rushing touchdowns. He is UCF’s leading rusher, and he averages an absurd 6.2 yards per carry. Isaiah Bowser leads the team in attempts (174) and rushing touchdowns (13), but R.J. Harvey should not go unnoticed. Harvey has ripped off 6.9 yards per carry, and he ranks second to Plumlee in total rushing. The receiving corps has multiple standouts, but Javon Baker has been the top option, racking up 710 yards and five touchdowns.
UCF has the No. 31 defense, allowing 21.3 points per game. Jason Johnson leads the team with 114 total tackles, more than doubling any of his teammates. Tre’mon Morris-Brash has had an electric season with 12 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. He also has accumulated 104 fumble return yards on two fumble recoveries. In the passing game, Divaad Wilson has three of the team’s five interceptions. Corey Thornton does not have an interception, but he has a forced fumble and seven pass deflections.
While UCF is 3-2 ATS in its last five games, they have been in a bit of a rut recently. They lost as 15.5-point favorites against Navy. Last week, they were alarmingly close to losing as 20-point favorites against one of the worst teams in the country in South Florida. These shaky performances are a major reason why UCF is a larger underdog than they were against Tulane three weeks ago. In their previous matchup, Tulane was a 1-point favorite.
The over is 3-2 in the last five games. In their last matchup, UCF and Tulane hit the over by 14.5 points.
Just one year after going 2-10, Tulane is enjoying one of its best seasons in program history. Even if they were to lose out, their 10 wins are third-most in 118 seasons of football, falling short of 1931’s 11 wins and 1998’s 12-win perfect season. Tulane has spent about half the season ranked, the first time in the polls since 1998. They were as high as No. 16, but their loss to UCF dropped them to No. 21. Tulane is looking for the school’s first AAC title. They went 7-1 in the conference in the regular season, only losing to UCF. Their other loss was against Southern Mississippi. They have two notable wins, knocking off a now-ranked Kansas State and a then-ranked Cincinnati.
Tulane has ridden the wave of a productive offense to national relevance. Quarterback Michael Pratt has had a stellar season. He has launched 21 touchdowns and rushed for nine more compared to just four interceptions. He averages 8.3 yards per attempt, completing nearly 65% of his throws. On the ground, Tyjae Spears is the engine of the operation. Averaging 15.8 carries per game, Spears has poured in 1,177 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. His 6.2 per-carry clip is elite. The receiving corps has been more of a collective effort. Seven different players have 20 or more catches, and no one has more than 30. Shae Wyatt leads the team with 582 yards while Duece Watts has punched in seven touchdowns.
Defensively, Tulane might be even better. They have the No. 18 scoring defense, surrendering under 20 points per game. They allow opposing offenses under 5.0 yards per play. From a personnel perspective, Dorian Williams and Nick Williams deliver a strong backbone. Both players have accumulated 100 tackles and at least 5.5 tackles for loss. Williams is one of two Green Wave to have four sacks. He has also picked off a pair of passes and forced two fumbles. The Green Wave has three players with multiple interceptions and forced fumbles.
In their last five games, Tulane is 4-1 ATS, only losing to UCF. They have been favored in all five games, ranging from -1 against UCF and Cincinnati to -7 against Memphis. The over is 4-1 in these games, only missing in Tulane’s win over Tulsa.
Free Pick: Tulane -4
It is difficult to beat a team twice, so Tulane gets the advantage here. While UCF has struggled with two of the lesser teams in the AAC, Tulane dismantled a competent SMU team and held onto shock Cincinnati on the road. Tulane is ascending while UCF is slipping, so Tulane -4 should be a solid bet. There could be some value in the over as both teams have dominant and explosive rushing attacks. Either team could rip off a long touchdown and create extra scoring opportunities. Expect Tulane to win their first AAC title in football and just their fourth overall since joining the conference.