The AutoZone Liberty Bowl isn’t one of the most exciting match-ups for the 2012 bowl season, but for fans of the Iowa State Cyclones and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, it should be a good one. These two teams have already met up once this season. They played opening weekend and Iowa State won, 38-23. But after the Cyclones went 6-6 and the Golden Hurricane finishing 10-3 on the season, this may be a different game this time.
Both teams arrived in on Wednesday to a snow-covered Memphis landscape. Starting safety, Jacques Washington from the Cyclones even got stranded in the Tulsa airport due to travel delays. Iowa State head coach, Paul Rhoads joked in his press conference saying that he called Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship asking him if he could hitch a ride with his team. In case you were wondering, Washington didn’t get to do that, naturally. He finally arrived later in the day.
Both teams considered moving their first practice to an indoor facility, but Rhoads declined stating that the players were used to the cold and weather.
The Cyclones tout an underrated defense, but with the mid-season loss of linebacker Jake Knott, they really haven’t been the same. Knott was the backbone and was with the team the last time the two teams took the field. The Golden Hurricane offense played well this season and has a good pair of running backs, Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas, who both average over six yards per carry. They also both almost hit the 1000-yard rushing mark on the season.
Tulsa has a great chance at getting redemption for the opening day loss against Iowa State. This isn’t the same two teams that played in week one. While Tulsa seemed to improve from week-to-week, the Cyclones really suffered when their defensive leader went out to injury.
While the game may not have that big-name, big-game feel to it, it actually should be decent. The game is set for Monday at 3:30 EST.