Week 11 – Tulsa at Houston

Posted Nov 9, 2012

Week 11 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Tulsa at Houston

Tulsa (7-2) at Houston (4-5) Nov. 10, 5:00, CBS Sports Network

Here's The Deal: Tulsa took a stab at an SEC team, Arkansas, a week ago and came up just short. Big whoop. The win would have been great, of course, but the program remains resolute on being this year's Conference USA champ. The Golden Hurricane has yet to lose a league game, standing in complete control of the West Division. It would love nothing more than to padlock a berth in the conference championship game on the back of an old nemesis, Houston.

The Cougars have shown intermittent signs of life in 2012, but have largely been comatose in the encore to last season's 13-win campaign. Over the last three games, for example, Houston has escaped UTEP and been scorched by SMU and East Carolina. In Greenville last week, it never threatened, looking like a squad that's going to skip college football's second season for just the second time since 2004.

Why Tulsa Might Win: The Golden Hurricane is the markedly more consistent team. And now it won't have to face two of Houston's best players.

The Cougars will be without RB Charles Sims, who twisted an ankle, and all-star CB D.J. Hayden, who tragically had to undergo emergency surgery to repair a tear in the main blood vessel that goes to the heart. Houston will be vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. The defense already had major issues, slipping to 108th in the country. It'll have its hands full trying to contain the assertive, league-best ground game of Tulsa, whose wave of quality backs include speedy Ja'Terian Douglas, versatile Trey Watts and north-south Alex Singleton.

Why Houston Might Win: Tulsa can be beaten through the air. The Cougars will have to in order to get back to .500.

The Golden Hurricane is 100th nationally in pass defense. And its tenacious pass rush will be somewhat neutralized by a talented Houston O-line. QB David Piland, fresh off a four-touchdown effort, should get the time he needs to find an open man. His ensemble of receivers is deep and improving, including veterans Daniel Spencer and Dewayne Peace and rookies Larry McDuffey and Deontay Greenberry. While sophomore RB Kenneth Farrow isn't Sims, he is a physical former three-star recruit who is itching for the spotlight.

What To Watch Out For: Houston will do whatever it possibly can to force Tulsa into third-and-long situations. In obvious passing situations, Hurricane QB Cody Green has not been up to the challenge this season.

The Nebraska transfer has been a disappointment in his first season in Conference USA, throwing with poor consistency and questionable mechanics. Green is only completing 53% of his passes, and hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since Oct. 6. The Cougars might as well stack the box with athletic safeties and linebackers, and take their chances with the Tulsa passing attack.

What Will Happen: Houston doesn't have the talent to stack up with Tulsa. And now it has the emotional strain of thinking about a hospitalized teammate.

The Cougars' bodies will be at Robertson Stadium, but many of their minds will understandably be at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Winners of seven straight conference road games, Tulsa will employ a familiar blueprint to get to No. 8 in a row. The Hurricane will bludgeon the Houston D into submission, while its own defense chases Piland from the pocket. Tulsa will delight in blowing out the Cougars, who are leaving the league for the Big East in 2013.

CFN Prediction: Tulsa 35 … Houston 21
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Tulsa -3 O/U: 68.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Skyfall, 1 – Wreck It Ralph): 2