Following their major Conference USA championship game victory over UCF, the Golden Hurricanes look to finish their season on a high note against Iowa State in this year's Liberty City Bowl.
The game will be held on New Year's Eve and should be a healthy little appetizer to all the ridiculously great slate of games heading into the new year.
Iowa State hails from the Big 12 and looks to show Tulsa what BCS-conference football is all about, while Tulsa will be fighting for national respect and possibly a top 25 finish if things can go their way. Both teams' strengths and weaknesses matchup fairly well and I wouldn't be surprised if this was one of the more entertaining bowls of the season.
Where: Memphis, Tenn.
When: Dec. 31, 2012 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Radio: Tulsa, KRMG-AM 740—Iowa State, KGYM-AM 1600
Live Streaming: tulsahurricane.com/allaccess/
Betting Line: Iowa State -3.5
It's no secret that Tulsa hangs their hat on the running game and with the 11th best rushing attack in the nation, who can blame them?
Because their rushing attack is so potent, the Golden Hurricanes currently have two separate running backs within 150 yards or less of 1,000 rushing yards on the season. Therefore, tuning into this game gives you the chance to see two different players eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark in the same game on the same team! I mean, how many times does that actually happen?
Speaking of those two RBs from Tulsa, another thing to look out for has to be the Cyclone's defense and how they handle Tulsa's prolific rushing attack. It will undoubtedly decide the game and prove if Tulsa has benefited from a fairly easy schedule or if their ground game is the real deal.
QB - 7 - Cody Green 6-4, 247, JR
15 - Kalen Henderson 6-0, 210, SO
RB - 22 - Trey Watts 5-11, 190, JR
25 - Ja'Terian Douglas 5-11, 189, JR
WR - 12 - Jordan James 6-2, 203, JR
6 - Derek Patterson 6-0, 184, FR
WR - 1 - Keyarris Garrett 6-4, 207, SO
4 - Khiry Cooper 6-3, 205, Sr
WR - 26 - Thomas Roberson 6-3, 195, SO
2 - Joshua Atkinson 6-2,185, FR
FB - 34 - Willie Carter 6-2, 231, SR
41 - Cody Wilson 6-0, 232, JR
OT - 72 - Jared Grigg 6-4, 280, SR
68 - Garrett Gladd 6-4, 302, FR
OT - 73 - Brian DeShane 6-3, 305, SR
75 - Davis Walton 6-3, 285, JR
OG - 77 - Jake Alexander 6-2, 294, SO
76 - Garrett Stafford 6-5, 301, FR
OG - 65 - Gabe Moyer 6-2, 291, JR
74 - Stetson Burnett 6-4, 303, JR
C - 53 - Trent Dupy 6-2, 285, SR
52 - Billy Lafortune 6-0, 251, FR
DE - 93 - Cory Dorris 6-4, 260, SR
54 - Derrick Alexander 6-2, 270, FR
DE - 50 - Jared St. John 6-2, 250, SR
97 - Brentom Todd 6-3, 239, SO
DT - 92 - Derrick Jackson 6-2, 294, SR
99 - Derrick Luetjen 6-3, 279, FR
DT - 56 - Daeshon Bufford 6-3, 292, SR
98 - Jack Jewell 6-5, 287, JR
LB - 27 - DeWitt Jennings 5-10, 211, JR
33 - Mitchell Osborne 6-2, 210, SO
LB - 2 - DeAundre Brown 5-11, 217, SR
53 - Jake Sizelove 6-0, 211, SO
LB - 40 - Trent Martin 6-2, 242, FR
43 - Donnell Hawkins 6-1, 221, JR
CB - 21 - John Flanders 5-10, 170, SR
15 - JD Ratliff 5-9, 170, SR
CB - 7 - Lowell Rose 6-1, 193, SR
9 - Dwight Dobbins 5-9, 173, SO
SS - 26 - Dexter McCoil 6-4, 222, SR
30 - Luke Snider 5-10, 178, SO
FS - 20 - Marco Nelson 6-0, 192, JR
22 - Michael Mudoh 5-10, 198, FR
OT Brian DeShane: Out for Season (Leg)
LB Donnell Hawkins: Out for Season (ACL)
WR Josh Atkinson: Out for Season (Ankle)
WR Bryan Burnham: Out for Season (Knee)
TE - 86 - Kurt Hammerschmidt, 6-6, 271, Sr
84 - Ernst Brun, 6-3, 240, Jr
LT - 71 - Carter Bykowski, 6-8, 303, Sr
69 - Kyle Litchenberg, 6-6, 294, Jr
LG - 64 - Ethan Tuftee, 6-4, 318, Jr
78 - Bob Graham, 6-5, 293, So
C - 74 - Tom Farniok, 6-4, 280, So
67 - Sam Tautolo, 6-3, 304, Sr
RG - 65 - Jacob Gannon, 6-7, 286, So
73 - Shaban Dika, 6-5, 318, So
RT - 79 - Brayden Burris, 6-6, 298, Sr
76 - Jamison Lalk, 6-6, 275, Fr
QB - 2 - Steele Jantz, 6-3, 224, Sr
7 - Jared Barnett, 6-1, 199, So
RB - 8 - James White, 5-8, 187, Jr
21 - Shontrelle Johnson, 5-9, 196, Jr
WR - 19 - Josh Lenz, 6-0, 194, Sr
15 - Chris Young, 5-11, 197, Sr
WR - 18 - Albert Gary, 5-10, 196, Jr
3 - Aaron Horne, 5-9, 178, Sr
WR - 1 - Jarvis West, 5-7, 165, So
9 - Quenton Bundrage, 6-2, 184, Fr
LE - 87 - David Irving, 6-7, 262, So
85 - Devin Lemke, 6-4, 225, Fr
DT - 90 - Cleyon Laing, 6-4, 290, Sr
93 - Brandon Jensen, 6-5, 280, So
NG - 94 - Jake McDonough, 6-5, 290, Sr
95 - Walter Woods III, 6-0, 308, Jr
RE - 38 - Roosevelt Maggitt, 6-3, 246, Sr
50 - Willie Scott, 6-2, 231, Jr
LB - 27 - C.J. Morgan, 6-3, 213, So
26 - Deon Broomfield, 6-0, 196, Jr
LB - 47 - A.J. Klein, 6-2, 244, Sr
52 - Jeremiah George, 5-11, 225, Jr
LB - 20 - Jake Knott, 6-3, 239, Sr
55 - Jevohn Miller, 6-1, 242, So
CB - 2 - Jansen Watson, 5-9, 184, Jr
3 - Kenneth Lynn, 5-10, 161, Fr
CB - 5 - Jeremy Reeves, 5-7, 166, Sr
8 - Matt Thomas, 5-10, 167, So
SS - 24 - Durrell Givens, 6-0, 211, Sr
14 - Jared Brackens, 6-1, 205, So
FS - 10 - Jacques Washington, 6-1, 213, Jr
26 - Deon Broomfield, 6-0, 196, Jr
RT Brayden Burris: Questionable for Bowl Game (Leg)
QB Steele Jantz: Questionable for Bowl Game (Concussion)
RG Shaban Dika: Out Indefinitely (Undisclosed)
LB Jake Knott: Out for Season (Shoulder)
RB Trey Watts
Tulsa heads into the Liberty Bowl with the 11th best rushing attack averaging a bit over 240 yards per game and Trey Watts has to be the main reason why.
The junior running back is the focal point of the Golden Hurricanes' rushing attack and will most likely eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season in this bowl game. Look for Watts to be given a healthy amount of touches and if he can get rolling along with his fellow running back teammate, Ja'Terian Douglas, Tulsa could find themselves in the driving seat of this year's Liberty Bowl.
WR Josh Lenz
As one of the team's senior leaders as well as ISU's leading receiver, Josh Lenz will need a big game for his Cyclones to come out on top. The 6'0" pass-catcher possesses sure hands and has caught almost half of Steele Jantz touchdown passes this season.
Jantz is a serviceable QB but will need a savvy receiver like Lenz to find holes in the defense and make himself readily available on big third downs. If Lenz can get himself open and help Jantz out as much as possible, it will cut down on his QB's mistakes and possibly give this offense the lift they need to finish their season off with a big win.
Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas versus Iowa State's Front Seven
If you've been paying attention to anything I've written up to this point, then you expected this to come up again, but I can't help it. This matchup will decide the game and it's that simple.
If Tulsa's two-headed backfield can rack up yards and first downs on the ground like they have been all year, they will win the game. If ISU's front seven can stunt the Golden Hurricanes' rushing attack and force them into third and longs, they'll have a great chance. Keep a very close eye on this matchup.
Steele Jantz versus Tulsa's Secondary
Iowa State has to provide some sort of offense in order to win this game and what better person to look for to step up than senior QB, Steele Jantz.
Jantz has been serviceable at best during his time at Iowa State but does possess the experience to have an effective day. If the Cyclone's field general can eliminate all turnovers and move the ball at key times, ISU could finish their season with a winning record after all.
It's simple enough.
Tulsa will win if they can rush for over 250 yards.
This team lives and dies with the run game and with two dangerous backs in Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas at their disposal, this offense must move the ball effectively on the ground. If the Golden Hurricanes can dominate on the ground, they will control the tempo of the game and remain in an offensive position they can best excel at.
A strong run game will also give their defense plenty of time to rest and keep the pressure off of Cody Green, who performs much better as a sidekick to Tulsa's rushing attack.
As simple as it is for Tulsa, it is just as simple for Iowa State.
They simply cannot let the Golden Hurricanes run wild with their two-headed backfield. Now of course, this is much easier said than done, but if the Cyclones can stifle Tulsa's rushing attack and force Cody Green to beat them with his arm, they could very easily pull this one out against a solid opponent.
Shutting down the run has its obvious advantages but also should give ISU an edge in the turnover department as well as the time of possession department where many games are won and lost.
Iowa State has played some formidable opponents close this season but I don't see them taking out the Golden Hurricanes in this one. I expect Tulsa to move the ball extremely effectively on the ground with their two talented backs which will not only produce points, but keep the Cyclones' offense off the field and provide their defense with ample amount of rest.
When ISU does reach the field I don't see enough offensive firepower on their roster in order for them to keep up with Tulsa's excellent rushing game. Steele Jantz and company will put some points on the board but as Tulsa continues to rack up points via the ground, this ISU offense will begin to turn the ball over and become dangerously one-dimensional.
That's right people Tulsa will prevail and fairly easily at that.
I see Tulsa winning, 38-21.