Iowa State and Tulsa will meet for the second time this season when they square off in the 2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on December 31st. The teams opened the season against each other with Iowa State coming out on top 38-23 at home. The Cyclones went 3-6 in Big 12 conference play and finished the regular season bowl eligible at 6-6. Tulsa won seven straight games after losing their opener to Iowa State and head into the bowl game with an overall record of 10-3.
When Tulsa is on Offense
Tulsa ranks 28th in the nation in scoring at 35.0 points per game. The Golden Hurricane were great running the football this season and rank 11th with 240.2 yards per game on the ground. Tulsa has a three-headed monster in the backfield in running backs Trey Watts, Alex Singleton, and Ja’Terian Douglas. Watts had the most rushing yards (959) and also had 326 yards receiving. Singleton is huge (6’1″, 260lbs) and led the team in carries (187) and rushing touchdowns (21). Douglas had the best yards per carry on the team averaging 6.6 yards per carry. In the first game with Iowa State Douglas had 11 carries for 55 yards, Watts had 10 carries and 125 yards, and Alex Singleton had 3 carries for 1 yard.
The Cyclones rank 36th in scoring defense allowing 23.3 points per game. Iowa State should expect Tulsa to run the ball more than they did in their last meeting. The Cyclones rank 68th in the nation in rushing defense and gave up 4.21 yards per carry to opposing running backs.
When Iowa State is on Offense
Iowa State ranks 83rd in the nation in scoring at 25.2 points per game. The Cyclones have gone through several quarterbacks this season. Steele Jantz was the starter in the first meeting against Tulsa and Jared Barnett also got his share of snaps. In the final two games, freshman Sam Richardson stepped in at quarterback and played very well. Richardson threw for 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in the last two games. However, in a loss to West Virginia to end the season, Richardson only completed 41.9% of his passes.
The Golden Hurricane rank 40th in scoring defense allowing 24.2 points per game. Tulsa was outstanding rushing the passer this season and are 3rd in the nation with 48 sacks. Defensive end Jared St. John led the team with 11.5 sacks and linebacker DeAundre Brown had 9 sacks. Tulsa will have to make sure not to lose containment on Sam Richardson when rushing the quarterback. Richardson ran for 119 yards against West Virginia in the regular season finale.
2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl Pick Against the Spread
Iowa State is currently a 1-point favorite over Tulsa in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Iowa State easily won the first matchup between these teams, but that game was over three months ago. The teams that will play each other in the Liberty Bowl are different than the teams that played on September 1st. Iowa State is now quarterbacked by Sam Richardson and Tulsa will give the Cyclones a large dose of Alex Singleton this time around. I like Tulsa’s ability to run the football with three talented running backs and I think their defense will be able to harass Richardson enough to force him to make some mistakes. I’m taking Tulsa to win this game in a close, hard-fought battle.
Prediction: Tulsa 31 – Iowa State 28