Tulsa vs. South Florida Predictions, Odds, Preview

  • October 22, 2020
  • By Jonathan Willis
  • VegasInsider.com

Rookie head coach Jeff Scott is still looking for his first FBS victory with South Florida. The Bulls knocked off The Citadel in their first game, but they have lost four straight games coming into Friday night’s tilt with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

Tulsa has not played since upsetting UCF in Orlando three weeks ago, but the Golden Hurricane are double-digit favorites as of Wednesday evening.


  • Week 8 Matchup: American Athletic Conference (AAC)
  • Expert Picks: Vegas Insiders
  • Venue: Raymond James Stadium
  • Location: Tampa, Florida
  • Date: Friday, October 23, 2020
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • Bet: BetMGM | BetRivers | FanDuel | PointsBet | All

Tulsa-South Florida Betting Odds

Line Movements

  • Spread: Tulsa -10
  • Money-Line: Tulsa -370 South Florida +310
  • Total: 51

Tulsa has had success in Florida this season, notching a road win over UCF in early October already this season. (AP)

How to Handicap Tulsa-South Florida

The Bulls were a little shaky in their season-opening win against The Citadel. They didn’t have much success in the passing game, and they largely used their defense to cover the spread.

We saw how much work Scott had to do with the program in their next game though, as Notre Dame smashed South Florida 52-0. The Bulls had just 11 first downs, and the offense continually left the Irish with great field position.

USF lost to Cincinnati and East Carolina by three scores in its first two conference games, but the Bulls nearly knocked off Temple last week. The offense came alive and USF almost secured an outright upset as a 14-point underdog. They easily covered the number to continue alternating ATS wins and losses, moving to 3-2 ATS on the season.

Tulsa has only played two games this season, but the Golden Hurricane have looked very impressive in both outings. Their defense stifled Oklahoma State’s high-powered offense in a 16-7 loss back in mid-September, and they scored one of the biggest upsets of the 2020 season with a 34-26 victory over UCF on October 3.

The Golden Hurricane easily covered the spread in both of those games. They were underdogs by over 20 points against both teams, but their defense ensured they stayed within the number and that both games went under the total.

Betting Analysis – Golden Hurricane

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • Overall: 1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS, 0-2 O/U

Tulsa has looked superb on defense this season. Although the Golden Hurricane only rank 60th in defensive SP+, they have held two of the country’s most explosive offenses in check.


They are allowing just 21 PPG and 366 YPG after playing Oklahoma State and UCF, and USF’s offense is a considerable step down from those two units.

This defense is giving up just 4.5 yards per play. Linebacker Zaven Collins has been a menace with three sacks, two pass defenses, and an interception, and TieNeal Martin has four pass defenses.

However, you can explain away some of this success. Oklahoma State lost standout quarterback Spencer Sanders on the Cowboys’ second possession, and UCF committed 18 penalties to continually shoot itself in the foot three weeks ago.

We haven’t seen much out of Tulsa’s offense through two games. The Golden Hurricane are only averaging 20.5 PPG and 358.0 YPG, as the ground game has struggled. Deneric Prince has run well averaging 5.6 YPC, but Tulsa is averaging just 3.6 YPC as a team through two games.

Quarterback Zach Smith had some big completions against UCF, bouncing back from a mediocre performance against Oklahoma State by averaging 9.4 YPA with three touchdowns and an interception against the Knights. Keylon Stokes has been his favorite receiver with 10 receptions for 150 yards.

Betting Analysis - Bulls

  • Overall: 1-4 SU, 3-2 ATS, 3-2 O/U

We’ve seen significant improvement out of sophomore quarterback Jordan McCloud over the course of this season. McCloud was not sharp in his first three starts, completing 31 of 51 passes for 269 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

However, he looked much better against East Carolina and Temple, completing 41 of 61 passes for 480 yards with three touchdowns in those two outings. Three other quarterbacks have thrown at least one pass for South Florida this year, but it’s clear that McCloud is Scott’s first choice.

Noah Johnson will make at least a handful of appearances though. Johnson has not been great as a passer this season, completing just 10 of 21 passes for 92 yards, but the senior is a mobile threat and is averaging 4.0 YPC this year.

The Bulls have two promising young running backs in Johnny Ford and Kelley Joiner Jr. Both players are sophomores, and they have combined to run for 470 yards at 5.1 YPC. This offensive line has surrendered 17 sacks on the year though, so the overall rushing numbers don’t look so good.

No receiver on USF has more than 200 receiving yards this season. Freshman Omarion Dollison is a promising young player though, averaging 21.1 YPC. This unit should put up much better numbers as McCloud continues to improve, but Scott is likely to start giving the underclassmen more run in a clear rebuilding season.

The cumulative numbers for this defense aren’t great. USF is allowing 40.8 PPG and 402.2 YPG, but the Bulls have been really hurt by their offense giving opposing teams so many short fields. This defense has had a very tough time getting to the quarterback as well with Antonio Grier Jr.’s three sacks being USF’s only sacks through five games.

Historically Speaking


South Florida has won all three games in this series, but none of the three Bulls’ wins have been by more than one score. The Bulls knocked off the Golden Hurricane 38-30 in Tulsa back in 2014, and they secured a 27-20 victory over this team three years ago.

USF was a 24-point favorite in that game, but Tulsa hung tough the whole way. The Golden Hurricane nearly knocked off the Bulls for the first time in 2018, but they fell 25-24 as a 10-point underdog. The last two games between these teams have both gone under the total.

Last Season

Tulsa came within seconds of scoring its first win over USF two years ago. The Golden Hurricane led 24-10 with just over seven minutes remaining, but Blake Barnett led the Bulls on two long touchdown drives to bring the team within striking distance prior to a 22-yard game winning field goal from Coby Weiss with two seconds on the clock.

Both teams struggled to throw the ball in that game. USF’s Blake Barnett completed just 17 of 39 passes for 237 yards with an interception, while Tulsa’s Seth Boomer went 6-21 for 79 yards and a touchdown. It’s no surprise given those numbers that both teams tried to run the ball as much as possible with USF running 47 times for 250 yards and three scores, and Tulsa running 49 times for 220 yards and two touchdowns.

USF went to 6-0 with the win, but the narrow victory was a sign of things to come. After a win over UConn the following week, the Bulls lost their last six games to close out the 2018 season.

Notable Betting Trends

-- Tulsa is 7-1 ATS in its last eight road games

-- The under is 4-1-1 in USF’s last six home games

-- The under has hit in four straight Friday night games involving USF and five straight Friday night games involving Tulsa

Tulsa-South Florida Predictions

  • Score Prediction: Tulsa 24, South Florida 21
  • Best Bet: Under 51
  • Best Bet: South Florida +10

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