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Fresno State (2-1) at Tulsa (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 22, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: H.A. Chapman Stadium (30,000) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: FSU 2-0, Tulsa 2-0. Away Record: FSU 0-1, Tulsa 0-1. Neutral Record: FSU 0-0, Tulsa 0-0. Conference Record: FSU 0-0, Tulsa 1-0. Series Record: Fresno State leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: A couple of schools coming off massive offensive showings last weekend hit the field in Oklahoma on Saturday night, as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane welcomes the Fresno State Bulldogs to Chapman Stadium.
The top-scoring team in Conference USA, ranked 14th nationally entering this week with an average of 44.7 ppg, Tulsa has rebounded well from a season- opening loss at Iowa State (38-23). In fact, the Hurricane has dwarfed both Tulane and Nicholls State in the last two games, outscoring the squads by a combined margin of 111-26.
Last weekend Tulsa demolished the Colonels, 66-16, in the second of three straight games to be played at Chapman Stadium. The scoring output was the highest by the Golden Hurricane since dropping 77 on UTEP in 2008, and the 50- point margin of victory was the largest since 2009 when the team thumped Sam Houston State, 56-3.
As for the Bulldogs, they too enjoyed an offensive barrage last Saturday when they recorded a Mountain West Conference-record 55 points in the first half against Colorado, eventually securing a 69-14 triumph versus the ailing Buffaloes at home in California.
Fresno State got the job done on both sides of the ball thanks to defensive back Phillip Thomas who tied an MWC record with three interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns. For his efforts, Thomas was named the MWC Defensive Player of the Week and also gained national recognition for his performance. The Bulldogs did suffer their first two turnovers of the season against Colorado, but still the team is tied for fifth in the country in turnover margin with a plus-2.0 per game entering play this week.
Fresno State lost the most recent meeting between the teams in 2005 by a score of 31-24, but still the Bulldogs own a 4-1 edge in the all-time series.
It was a magical night in Fresno for several reasons, not the least of which was the record-setting effort put forth by running back Robbie Rouse who became the school's all-time leading rusher during a thrilling 94-yard TD run in the first quarter. Rouse, who scored a total of four times in the first 15 minutes of action before taking a seat on the bench, has now gained 3,539 yards in his career, thanks in part to three 100-yard games already this season.
Rouse, who was named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week and matched the longest rushing attempt in school history, finished with 144 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and he added four receptions for another 42 yards and two TDs. Quarterback Derek Carr piled up 300 yards and five TDs in the first half, earning him a seat on the bench for the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs registered a total of four interceptions on the night and held the Buffs to only 278 yards of total offense, and yet FSU is still giving up an average of 361.3 ypg because Oregon roughed the team up in the second game of the season.
Getting after the quarterback has been a top priority for Fresno State in the early going, with the team recording at least three sacks in each game and ranking first in the league and 10th in the nation with 3.67 sacks per game under the direction of new head coach Tim DeRuyter.
Thanks to the efforts of Rouse and Carr, Fresno State's offense has been picking up steam and is now averaging 43.7 ppg, which is tops in the conference and 16th in the country this week.
As was the case with FSU, the Golden Hurricane rolled up a massive yardage total (566 yards) last weekend, the team focusing heavily on a ground attack which produced 333 yards and seven touchdowns. Ja'Terian Douglas carried the ball a mere five times, yet gained a game-high 163 yards and scored twice, while Zach Langer and Alex Singleton both scored two times on the ground.
Because of the onslaught, Tulsa was able to get three quarterbacks some playing time as Kalen Henderson, Cody Green and Joseph Calcagni combined to hit on 19-of-34 passes for 233 yards and a score.
Green, who was formerly a starter at Nebraska before making the move to Tulsa, has thrown for just over 600 yards and six touchdowns to this point as he and his fellow signal-callers spread the wealth among a multitude of receivers. In fact, through three games there's just one player who has notched double-digit receptions, which means defenses have to be on their toes when they line up against the Hurricane.
The scoring defense for Tulsa (21.3 ppg) appears to be playing well early on, but one has to remember that the last two opponents have been anything but world beaters so perhaps the Bulldogs could put together another wildly successful effort this weekend as well.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 41, Tulsa 34
09/19 10:34:39 ET