Tulsa (0-0) at Iowa State (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 1, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Trice Stadium (55,000) -- Ames, Iowa.
Television: FSN. Home Record: Tulsa 0-0, Iowa St. 0-0. Away Record: Tulsa 0-0,
Iowa St. 0-0. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, Iowa St. 0-0. Conference Record: Tulsa
0-0, Iowa St. 0-0. Series Record: Iowa State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A couple of bowl-eligible teams from a year ago try to get the 2012
season off on the right foot when the Iowa State Cyclones play host to the
Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday afternoon.
It was a rocky start to the 2011 campaign for Tulsa, with losses in three of
its first four games to national powerhouses Oklahoma (47-14), Oklahoma State
(59-33) and Boise State (41-21), but once it entered the Conference USA
schedule it performed much better. First-year head coach Bill Blankenship led
his team on a seven-game win streak, which allowed the Golden Hurricane to
qualify for the C-USA championship game. Although they lost their final two
games -- 48-16 to Houston in the conference championship and 24-21 to BYU in
the Armed Forces Bowl -- they still finished with an impressive 8-5 record.
Iowa State had an up and down season in the rough Big 12 Conference, finishing
with a 6-7 record and a 3-6 mark in league play. After winning their first
three games, the Cyclones dropped four in a row in October. They followed up
that stretch with another three-game win streak, which was punctuated by a huge
home win over nationally-ranked Oklahoma State, 37-31 in double-overtime -- the
Cowboys only loss of the season. That would be the high point of the season
however, as ISU closed out the year with three more losses, including to
Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl, 27-13.
Iowa State defeated Tulsa (27-6) back on Nov. 18, 1961 in the only other
meeting between these two programs.
Tulsa had one of the best offenses in C-USA last season, finishing third in
both total offense (440.4 ypg) and scoring offense (33.1 ppg), although with
three-year starting quarterback G.J. Kinne now graduated, the state of the
offense moving forward remains in question.
Taking over the duties under center is Nebraska transfer Cody Green, who threw
5 touchdowns to 3 interceptions as a backup in Lincoln the past couple of
seasons. Green is an imposing figure (6-4, 247) with a big arm and he is
expected to continue with the vertical passing attack that Kinne was so
successful with in 2011.
The Golden Hurricane use a running back-by-committee strategy in the backfield
to great success, and they return their three leading rushers from a year ago.
Ja'Terian Douglas (7.9 ypc) and Trey Watts (5.6 ypc) are big-play runners who
each gained more than 800 yards in 2011, and Alex Singleton thrived in goal-
line situations, plunging in for 8 touchdowns.
Adding to the running back carousel is Willie Carter. Although the fullback
carried the ball just 13 times a season ago, he is still an integral part of
the offensive game plan, as he was the team's leading receiver (61 rec, 868
yds, 7 TDs). Carter is just one of several veteran pass-catching options at
Green's disposal. Bryan Burnham (54 rec, 850 yds, 9 TDs) is an imposing threat
in the red zone, and Jordan James (31 rec, 391 yds, 1 TD) will be used in
underneath routes and is reliable in moving the chains.
The Tulsa defense was spotty a year ago, allowing opponents to put up 27.3
ppg, but the unit should benefit from key returning starters at each position.
Cory Dorris, Daeshon Bufford and Jared St. John all bring valuable experience
to the defensive line. All will need to pitch in order to replace the
production of the departed Tyrunn Walker (13.5 TFL, 8 sacks). The Golden
Hurricane also returns one of their most explosive playmakers in linebacker
Shawn Jackson, who hopes to improve upon a spectacular sophomore season (101
tackles, 11 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 INTs).
The secondary also appears to be in good shape. Safety Dexter McCoil picked off
a team-high six passes in 2011, and he comes into this season tied for the
program record with 13 career interceptions. Safety Marco Nelson finished
fourth on the team in tackles with 73, and cornerback John Flanders should also
give the unit a boost after missing the 2011 season due to academic
In the high-powered Big 12, Iowa State's offense did not stand out as one of
the elite. In fact, it was sub par by almost any conference's standards, as it
averaged just 22.7 ppg. The good news is that a solid core of seven starters
returns to Ames this season.
A pair of quarterbacks -- Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett -- split time in 2011
and combined for less-than-stellar numbers (2,720 yards, 16 TDs, 17 INTs).
Although Barnett took over the job in the final five weeks of last season, head
coach Paul Rhodes has chosen Jantz to be his starter for this opener. The
senior will need to improve upon his .533 completion percentage and lower his
high sack total if he wants to hold on to the job throughout the fall.
Regardless of who is under center, the Cyclones plan to run more often than
they throw once again in 2012. James White (743 yds, 8 TDs) returns as the
leading ball-carrier, and Jeff Woody (381 yds, 6 TDs) figures into the
backfield mix as well. Shontrelle Johnson, who has been cleared to play
following a neck injury suffered last season, could also have an impact.
The ISU receiving corps doesn't boast many game-breakers, especially
considering the loss of Darius Reynolds (43 rec, 695 yds, 7 TDs), but it
returns four receivers who caught at least 23 balls last season in Josh Lenz,
Aaron Horne, Jarvis West and Albert Gary.
The Cyclones defensive unit really struggled in 2011, allowing more than 427
total yards per game. They also managed to record just 17 sacks, and the return
of just one starter on the defensive line (Jake McDonough, 2 sacks) may not
help that number.
The linebacking crew figures to be much stronger than the defensive line, with
A.J. Klein and Jake Knott each coming off 100-tackle seasons.
The secondary also has plenty of leadership with the return of senior
cornerback Jeremy Reeves (70 tackles, 2 INTs) and junior safety Jacques
Washington (90 tackles, 1 INT).
Tulsa did not fare well against the Big 12 last season, allowing a total of
106 points to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but it's safe to say that the
Cyclones offense is no where near as potent as those two teams. With both
squads having question marks at the quarterback position, it's difficult to
predict how each will respond on the field in this one. Give Iowa State the
slight advantage working in front of its home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa State 28, Tulsa 27
08/31 10:31:06 ET