For most people that haven’t watched much MWC or C-USA football this season, you’re probably expecting this to be a shootout. It’s Tulsa. It’s BYU. It has to be a shootout, right? Well, if Tulsa’s offense stays on the field for the entire game. Unfortunately, BYU’s offense won’t remind any of us of the vaunted offenses that took the field under LaVell Edwards in the 1980s and 1990s. Tulsa, though, has some firepower with QB GJ Kinne under center.
The Golden Hurricane QB has thrown for just under 2,900 yards and run for 405 on the ground, so the offense goes through him, if you will. That’ll be the key for the Cougars in this one – can they force Kinne into mistakes that give the Cougars’ offense short fields throughout the game? Kinne has thrown 12 interceptions this season, but the Cougars offense has to add to that number because the offense isn’t going to be able to move the football well enough, up and down the field. It NEEDS short fields and advantageous field position. Sure, the Cougars have averaged over 41 points a game in the last three, but that was against Idaho, New Mexico State and Hawai’i. It’s not as if Tulsa’s defense reminds any of us of the 1992 Alabama Crimson Tide, but it’ll be a stiffer test than any of the Cougars last three opponents. As such, the Cougars won’t get enough gifts from Kinne to win this game. He’ll throw for 280+ yards and a couple of touchdowns to give Tulsa an Armed Forces Bowl title.
BYU T Matt Reynolds – the NFL has liked Reynolds for a while, but I eventually think it’s going to be at the right tackle position, instead of his current left tackle spot. He should transition over to the right side and be a solid pass/run protection right tackle for the next 10 to 12 years. Tulsa doesn’t present a ton of problems off the edge, but it wouldn’t matter anyway; he’s definitely got that edge protected. As such, keep an eye on BYU’s #70 in this one.
Tulsa – 28 vs. BYU - 20
I can’t help thinking about how badly Kansas State got hosed in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl, but I’ll try to put that horrid memory behind me as I discuss this year’s matchup. Now, if you remember back to last year…okay, just go with me for a bit on this…a Syracuse and Kansas State matchup didn’t register on the meter AT ALL. Yet, it was one of the best bowl games of the season. So, don’t be scared away by the Cyclones and the Scarlet Knights, especially with the way that Iowa State QB Jared Barnett has taken control of the Cyclones offense.
Since he took over as the starter, Iowa State has won three of its last five games of the season with the two losses coming to nine win Oklahoma and ten win Kansas State. However, Rutgers’ defense isn’t in a giving mood and hasn’t been all year long. The Scarlet Knights secondary, led by leading tackler Khaseem Greene, is one of the best in the Big East and could present plenty of issues for Barnett and the Cyclone passing game. Playing at “home”, the Scarlet Knights are going to be tough to beat, especially with the best defense on the field.
Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu – I LOVE the versatility. Absolutely love it. He’ll run it. He’ll throw it. But, what he did better than all but five guys this year in college football is catch it. He had 109 receptions this year and is the main offensive threat for the Scarlet Knights. Other than Sanu’s incredible versatility what I love about him in this game is the fact that he’ll probably be matched up with Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson. Big 12 teams learned to avoid him throughout the season and he should draw the matchup on Sanu when the Cyclones play man coverage. Rutgers finds numerous ways to get the ball to Sanu, so Johnson will have his work cut out on Friday afternoon.
Rutgers – 24 vs. Iowa State - 19