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         === Golden Hurricane and Cyclones collide in Liberty Bowl ===
 
 Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - After kicking off the 2012 season with one
 another, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and Iowa State Cyclones will close things
 out as they meet in this year's Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.
 
 "There's no question that Iowa State is well-coached and obviously, like us,
 have gone through transition since we met in the season opener," said Tulsa's
 head coach Bill Blankenship. "Iowa State has tremendous talent on their
 football team and played an excellent schedule in the Big XII Conference."
 
 Iowa State began the season with a 38-23 victory over Tulsa and added two more
 victories over Iowa (9-6) and Western Illinois (37-3), but it went 3-6 in Big
 12 action to finish at the .500 mark with a 6-6 overall record. Coach Paul
 Rhoads guided the team to a few impressive decisions over Baylor (35-21) and
 TCU (37-23) and it came up just short in its regular-season finale versus West
 Virginia (31-24).
 
 Blankenship's unit rebounded from its season-opening loss to the Cyclones by
 winning seven in a row before suffering a hard-fought road loss at Arkansas
 (19-15). The Golden Hurricane then won their next two games over Houston
 (41-7) and UCF (23-21) before losing to the inspired and now Hawaii Bowl
 champion SMU Mustangs (35-27) in the regular-season finale. Tulsa bounced back
 to down UCF in the Conference USA Championship game by six points in an
 overtime thriller to repeat as league champions. Blankenship was named the C-
 USA Coach of the Year after leading the program to a 10-3 record which
 included an 8-1 mark in league action and a perfect 6-0 display at home.
 
 This will be the third meeting in history between these program on the
 football field. Iowa State also won the first encounter in 1961. Tulsa is also
 scheduled to face the Cyclones in the fourth week of the 2013 season as well.
 
 Tulsa is one of the few teams from the C-USA that relies on its rushing attack
 for production. It is hard to argue with the results as the Golden Hurricane
 rank 11th in the FBS in rushing offense (240.3 ypg) and third in the
 conference in scoring offense (35 ppg). The team racked up an average of 500
 yards per contest over its last four outings.
 
 Tulsa's smash-mouth style features a stable of talented rushers, whose
 different styles continuously keep opposing defenses guessing.
 
 "They are over 3,000 yards rushing on the season," said Rhoads. "This is a
 very talented group and they have different styles to go along with those
 players."
 
 Ja'Terian Douglas (857 yards, seven TDs) and Trey Watts (959 yards, three TDs)
 have both shown off speed, vision, and elusiveness when handed the ball to
 kick the offense into higher gear. Alex Singleton (187 carries, 761 yards) is
 not as explosive as his co-workers in the backfield, but his bruising rushing
 style has yielded 21 rushing touchdowns and an average of 10.2 points scored
 per game.
 
 With a run-first offense, Cody Green accepted the role of game manager for the
 majority of the season. However, the junior QB has evolved into more of a
 threat late in the season including 413 yards passing at SMU. Green enters
 the bowl game with 2,499 yards, 17 TDs, and 10 interceptions with a 54.5
 percent completion rate.
 
 Sophomore wideout Keyarris Garrett made three touchdown receptions versus UCF
 to go along with a career-high 130 yards in the first matchup against the
 Knights. He then added 138 yards total on 12 receptions in the regular-season
 finale and C-USA Championship to bring his season total to 826 yards and nine
 TDs on 64 catches.
 
 The Tulsa defensive unit is the best from the C-USA with only 353.9 yards
 allowed and is second to UCF with only 24.2 points given up per contest.  The
 unit has made big plays in the backfield consistently with 104 tackles for
 loss, 48 sacks, and 24 total takeaways.
 
 DeAundre Brown has been one of the best linebackers in the country, filling up
 the stat sheet with 125 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and an
 interception. Senior DL Jared St. John is the team's leader with 11.5 sacks
 and Dexter McCoil will be looking to add to his team-best total of four
 interceptions.
 
 ISU was inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball this season as it
 scored over 30 points five times but was held to 21 or less on five separate
 occasions. Overall, the Cyclones averaged 25.2 points and 371.2 yards of total
 offense.
 
 Freshman quarterback Sam Richardson took over the offense in the closing weeks
 of the season and gave ISU a glimpse of its bright future. The rookie passer
 did not start against Kansas, but came in to complete 23-of-27 attempts for
 250 yards and four scores. The following week he went 13-of-31 for 162 yards
 and three TDs, but made up for his poor accuracy by gaining 119 yards on 18
 rushes.
 
 Senior wideout Josh Lenz led the Cyclones with 48 yards on four catches with a
 score versus WVU. Lenz tallied team-high totals of 430 yards and six scores on
 29 receptions. ISU has a very deep receiving corps as 10 different players
 have at least 100 yards and the same number have made at least one touchdown
 grab.
 
 The ISU rushing attack revolves around Shontrelle Johnson (504 yards, 115
 carries) and James White (469 yards, 89 carries). Johnson's only 100-yard
 performance this season came versus Tulsa in the opener.
 
 Defensively, the Cyclones allowed 444.8 yards of total offense per contest to
 their opposition, which ranked 98th in the FBS. However, they only gave up
 23.3 points per game, which was the 36th best mark in the country.
 
 Senior linebacker A.J. Klein was the heart and soul of the defensive unit with
 98 total tackles and a interception which he returned for a touchdown.
 
 "He (A.J. Klein) will be prepared to play both places because this is a team
 that has ran the ball extremely well and utilized more two back offensive
 sets," said Rhoads. "There's great potential for him and Jeremiah (George) to
 be on the field at the same time."
 
 George is second on the squad with 83 total tackles. Durrell Givens and
 Jacques Washington tied for the team-lead with three interceptions each.
 
 
 
 12/31 08:33:30 ET