Week 13 – Tulane at Houston

Posted Nov 23, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Tulane at Houston

Tulane (2-9) at Houston (4-7) Nov. 24, 3:30, FSN

Here's The Deal: What a difference a year makes.

At this time last season, Houston was undefeated, dreaming of a Conference USA championship and even a BCS bowl berth. This weekend, the Cougars are concluding a miserable campaign, sans any hope for a postseason appearance. First-year head coach Tony Levine, who's seen his team lose three straight, will try to use the finale as a springboard for 2013.

Tulane is in a similar position as Houston, though it's grown accustomed to idle Decembers. The Green Wave hasn't gone bowling since 2002, something rookie head coach Curtis Johnson hopes to change through improved recruiting. Tulane has also lost three in a row, peaking with its upset of SMU back on Oct. 13.

Why Tulane Might Win: As long as QB Ryan Griffin is upright, the Green Wave has a shot to finish the season on a high note.

Griffin and receivers Ryan Grant and Xavier Rush have been the bright spots in the second half for Tulane. Since returning from injury in the game with the Mustangs, the quarterback has thrown 17 touchdown passes and six picks. He'll be facing a Houston D that will attack the pocket, but has also allowed at least 35 points in the last five games, and hasn't been the same in the secondary since CB D.J. Hayden was lost to an injury.

Why Houston Might Win: The Cougars are banged-up on offense, but Tulane is moving offensive players to defense just to pick empty slots.

Both teams are hurting at this stage of the year, but Houston will enjoy an edge when it has the ball. The Green Wave ranks 115th in the country in scoring defense, laboring to get to the quarterback or make red-zone stops. And despite losing QB David Piland and RB Charles Sims to injury, Crawford Jones and Kenneth Farrow, respectively, have filled in well. Jones, in fact, threw five touchdown passes and no picks on 31-of-44 passing.

What To Watch Out For: Houston is at it again on defense. It gets overlooked, but few teams in recent years have been better at making plays behind the line than the Cougars. The D-line is suspect, but the linebackers are always quick and attacking. Three of this year's players, Phillip Steward, Derrick Mathews and Everett Daniels, have at least 10 stops for loss, a big concern for Griffin and the so-so Tulane blockers.

What Will Happen: Neither team will have much motivation in this one, but certain individual players most certainly will. Griffin and Jones, for instance, a couple of senior quarterbacks hoping to end their respective careers on positive notes. The pair will duke it out through the air, with the Cougar flipping one more touchdown pass to help finish this horrid season with a victory.

CFN Prediction: Houston 38 … Tulane 28
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Houston -12.5 O/U: 68
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 2