Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: BYU vs Tulsa 2011 Armed Forces Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 12/30/11: Prior to the start of the season, the BYU decided to become an independent program with the hope that setting its own schedule would mean sneaking into a BCS bowl. The Cougars fell short of the goal, finishing 9-3, but the record was good enough to earn BYU a trip to the Armed Forces Bowl against Tulsa (8-4). The Golden Hurricane was one of the top teams in Conference USA and faced a tough out-of-conference schedule. Both teams will look to end the year on a high note, and the Cougars are one-point favorites in Friday’s game.

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Neither side is likely to be lacking confidence heading into this matchup. BYU has won eight of its last nine games, dominating on both sides of the ball in the past month. Meanwhile, Tulsa has won seven of its last eight games and all four of the team’s losses have come to teams that were ranked inside the top 10 at some point during the year. With both teams playing their best football leading up to the game, an entertaining game could be on tap.

Offensively, both sides averaged more than 30 points per game, utilizing balanced attacks. The Golden Hurricane has the overall edge in offensive production by roughly four points per game, and senior quarterback G.J. Kinne is a big reason why. He threw for 25 touchdowns and more than 2,800 yards, and his mobility makes him a threat outside the pocket as well. BYU counters with Junior Riley Nelson under center, and while Nelson is also an effective dual-threat QB, the edge in experience definitely goes to Kinne and the Golden Hurricane.

In terms of playmakers, Tulsa running back Ja’Terian Douglas could steal the show. He led all backs by averaging 8.2 yards per carry this season, and if he can rip off some long runs, it will open things up for Kinne and the rest of the offense. For the Cougars, receiver Cody Hoffman has taken care of the explosive plays. He finished the season with seven touchdowns and more than 800 yards, and if BYU is going to hit a big play in the passing game, it is likely going to come from Hoffman. With both teams putting up similar offensive numbers, one or two big plays could be the difference in the outcome.

The X-factor in the game could be the BYU defense. The unit ranks in the top 25 nationally in scoring, allowing less than 21 points per game. The Cougars’ defense got stronger as the year progressed, allowing seven points or less in three of the final five games. The defense passed the test against tough competition as well. BYU allowed just 13 points on the road against Ole Miss and just 17 points on the road against Texas. Tulsa’s offense has been effective this season, but a hot BYU defense could hold the Golden Hurricane in check.

In the end, the similarities between these two teams on offense should create an interesting matchup. Although Tulsa has the edge in explosiveness and is more likely to hit a big play, the Golden Hurricane defense has been significantly worse than the BYU unit. The Cougars’ strength on both sides of the ball should carry BYU to a win.

Prediction: BYU Cougars (+1.5) Cover the Spread

Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: BYU +1.5 to cover the spread

Armed Forces Bowl: BYU vs Tulsa
Date: 12/30/11
Time: 12 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds - Favorite: Tulsa -1.5 Total: Over/Under 57.5

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