It’s not often that a team will come away with a Bowl win when passing for just 93 yards, but that is exactly what the Tulsa Golden Hurricane did in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on New Year’s Eve. The Golden Hurricane avenged an opening week loss to the Iowa State Cyclones and came away with a 31-17 victory.
Tulsa has made a living pounding the football all season, and they continued that trend against the Cyclones today. The Golden Hurricane averaged 240 yards rushing a game in 2012, which was good enough for 11th in the entire country. Not only that, but Tulsa was able to run the ball by committee all season long. Running backs Trey Watts, Ja’Terian Douglas, and Alex Singleton all had at least 120 carries and 700-plus yards on the ground this year.
When you are able to plug multiple backs into your offense and not lose a step, a big portion of the credit has to go to the offensive line. Tulsa’s big men up front were in fine form in the Liberty Bowl, creating massive holes you could drive a truck through. Many times the Cyclones’ defenders weren’t making contact with the Tulsa running backs until they were 5-10 yards past the line scrimmage. It’s not like the Golden Hurricane were doing any fancy misdirection plays either, the majority of their rushing yardage came right up the gut.
Tulsa also bounced back from some adversity early on in the game. Iowa State actually jumped out to a 10-0 lead midway through the first, and was up 17-7 by the end of the opening quarter. The Golden Hurricane didn’t panic, however, and stuck to the game plan of running the football. It really shows what kind of confidence they have in the offensive line and running game. A lot of teams would have started to throw the ball more frequently when down two possessions to try and narrow the gap quickly, which can often lead to mistakes and turnovers.
This game was won and lost at the line of scrimmage. Tulsa simply was just much more physical than Iowa State at the point of attack. It was kind of a throwback to the type of football you just don’t see that often anymore. With all the passing we see at both the college and pro levels thanks to the restrictions on defensive backs in coverage, it was a breath of fresh air to see a game decided by the offensive line. It’s cliché, but those guys never get enough credit.
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