This Thursday the Houston Cougars (3-1) will host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-3) in a weeknight AAC matchup. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST at TDECU Stadium and will be televised on ESPN.

Taking a look at the Week 6 college football odds, the books opened with Houston as a 14-point favorite, but that has been bet up and the Cougars are now a 18-point favorite. The total for this contest is currently sitting at 68.5 points.

Tulsa vs Houston Vegas Betting Odds & Game Preview

The Golden Hurricane come into this one off a bye. Last time out they lost 31-17 at Temple as a 6-point dog. A game many people will remember, as it was played on Thursday and was the only college game on the board. Tulsa had no one to blame but themselves in that defeat, as they actually outgained the Owls 403 to 300, but turned it over 5 times, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The Golden Hurricane have now lost 3 straight since their opening season win over Central Arkansas and are just 1-3 ATS.

The Cougars also enter off a bye. In their last contest they rolled Texas Southern 70-14 at home, cashing in an impressive cover as a massive 54.5-point favorite. It was a nice bounce back win for Houston, who suffered their only loss of the season the previous week in a 49-63 loss at Texas Tech as a 2-point dog.

Last year the Golden Hurricane pulled off a shocking 45-17 upset win over Houston as a 13-point home dog. It was one of just two wins on the season for Tulsa, who finished the year 2-10. The Cougars had won the previous 3 meetings.

College Football Free Betting Pick & Predictions: Tulsa +18

I would have to lean toward grabbing the big number and backing the Golden Hurricane to keep this within 17 points. I just feel that Tulsa is way undervalued right now and it’s a combination of them going just 2-10 last year and then starting out the 2018 season 1-3 SU and 1-3 ATS. The thing is, Tulsa has been highly competitive in all 3 of their losses, which includes a mere 7-point loss at Texas.

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The biggest problem for the Golden Hurricane has been turnovers. Tulsa has 13 turnovers in 4 games, averaging more than 3 turnovers every time they take the field. While it’s unlikely those mistakes just stop happening, it’s highly unlikely they continue to give the football away at that rate. Houston has also played their fair share of bad offenses to start the season and have only forced 5 turnovers in 4 games.

I think getting the extra week of practice couldn’t have come at a better time for Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery and I expect a much more efficient offensive showing with all the time they have had to prepare for this contest. On top of that, this is a Houston defense they can exploit. Despite having arguably the best defensive player in the country in Ed Oliver, the Cougars are allowing 30.5 ppg and 503 ypg. I know a lot of that is a result of the 63 points and 700+ yards they allowed to Texas Tech a few weeks back, but they also gave up 27 points and nearly 450 yards to an awful Rice team.

The other thing I think that gets overlooked with Tulsa’s slow start is just how much better their defense is playing. Last year the Golden Hurricane allowed 37.5 ppg and 529 ypg, which were some of the worst marks in the FBS. While we are only 4 games into the season, Tulsa is only allowing 28.7 ppg and 357 ypg. I’m not saying they are going to shutdown this high-powered Houston offense, but I think they can get off the field and that only increases their chances of keeping this within the number.

You also can’t overlook how well Tulsa has played in this series of late. While last year’s upset win will be all most people talk about, they haven’t lost by more than 14 points in each of the last 5 meetings. That includes a mere 7-point loss as a 23-point road dog in 2016.

Lastly, Tulsa has been a money-making machine in this kind of spot under Montgomery. Since he took over in 2015, the Golden Hurricane have gone an impressive 12-4 ATS as a road underdog. They are also 13-4 ATS in their last 17 after failing to cover in their last game and a perfect 8-0 ATS in their last 8 road games against a team with a high-powered offense that is averaging 31 or more points/game. Give me Tulsa +18.