CFN Liberty Analysis - Tulsa 31, Iowa St 17
Posted Dec 31, 2012

CFN's thoughts and analysis on Tulsa's solid victory over the Cyclones.

- AutoZone Liberty Tulsa 31, Iowa State 17

Tulsa broke open a close game with 24 unanswered points and a defense that didn't allow an Iowa State score after the first quarter. Alex Singleton ran for three short scores and quarterback Cody Green added an eight yard score. The aggressive Tulsa defense got stronger, stopping ISU time and again with five sacks and allowing just 2-of-14 third down conversions, but the Cyclones were hot early with a 69-yard Ernst Brun touchdown grab and a 31-yard Jeremy Reeves pick six. That was it as Tulsa's running game controlled things the rest of the way.

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane had the ball for close to 23 minutes in the second half. … Tulsa came up with five sacks and the O line didn't give up any. … QB Cody Green completed 11-of-23 passes for 93 yards with a pick, and he ran ten times for 58 yards and a score. … RB Trey Watts ran 25 times for 149 yards. … RB Alex Singleton ran 15 times for 35 yards and three touchdowns. … LB Shawn Jackson made nine tackles with two sacks with a forced fumble.

Iowa State: QB SB Richardson completed 10-of-21 passes for 129 yards and a score with a pick, and he ran ten times for a team-leading 46 yards. … WR Ernst Brun caught four passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. … LB A.J. Klein made 19 tackles with a broken up pass and a tackle for loss. … CB Jeremy Reeves made six tackles with a pick and a tackle for loss.

Richard Cirminiello

Tulsa's Shawn Jackson is part-linebacker and all-enforcer. He plays the game with an attitude, which became contagious to his teammates today. The Golden Hurricane allowed just nine first downs and no points over the final 34 minutes.

Don't underestimate the importance of this victory for Tulsa and head coach Bill Blankenship. Not only is it No. 10 on the year and avenges an opening day loss, but beating a Big 12 opponent sort of validates all that the Conference USA champs achieved in 2012.

Love the depth of the Tulsa backfield, which has given fits to opposing defenses all season long. Trey Watts was outstanding, Ja'Terian Douglas continued to swing for the fences and Alex Singleton is one of the country's most underrated short-yardage backs. Watts and Douglas are just juniors.

It'd be a bold move, but if the Hurricane had a better alternative behind center, it ought to consider moving QB Cody Green to tight end or defensive end or linebacker. He's a nice athlete, who'll annihilate defenders when leaving the pocket, but he continues to offer precious little upside as a passer.

Tough game on many fronts for Cyclones QB Sam Richardson. Still, with a full season to adapt to the offense and the personnel, he'll shows signs of being the kind of player Paul Rhoads can build an offense around. Just because he took a beating and the stat line was feeble doesn't mean that the Liberty Bowl wasn't a very valuable experience for the rookie from Winter Park, Fla.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

1) Bill Blankenship, the head coach of Tulsa, pulls in a yearly salary of $800,000, which is 85th among Football Bowl Subdivision coaches. He has now won 19 games in two full seasons. Few coaches are giving their schools more bang for the buck.

2) If you think Iowa State was disinterested in this regular season rematch, think again. The Cyclones played with great passion in the first half. Tulsa looked slow and overwhelmed when Iowa State rolled to a 17-7 lead. The Golden Hurricane simply responded, punishing Iowa State at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Tulsa's hitting and blocking pounded Iowa State into submission. Iowa State responded by losing focus, chiefly in the form of late-hit penalties that aided Tulsa drives, allowing the Golden Hurricane to extend their lead as the game wore on.

3) Conference USA went 4-1 this bowl season. Few national observers expected as much. The league that endured a terrible regular season, one year after Houston's C-USA title game loss deprived it of a huge BCS payday, certainly answered the call in its five bowl games.

4) We're still waiting for someone other than Baylor to provide an impressive bowl performance. Anybody home, Big 12 Conference? Oklahoma and Kansas State need to step up in early January.