Sunday, December 2, 2012
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
By Brandon Chatmon
Iowa State Cyclones (6-6) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (10-3)
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET, Memphis, Tenn. (ESPN)
Iowa State take by SoonerNation's Brandon Chatmon: Big 12 Conference play was unkind to the Cyclones, who have won just two games since Oct. 6. They finished 3-6 in the conference and 6-6 overall.
Nonetheless, ISU has plenty of hope heading into bowl season with the emergence of redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Richardson in its final two games. He was 36-of-58 for 412 yards and seven touchdowns with zero interceptions in the final two games.
Richardson has played with a confidence and poise that should make Cyclones fans excited about the future. The month of bowl practices will help his development, and a good performance in ISU's bowl game could give him the confidence to take his game to another level as a sophomore.
The Cyclones feature a solid defense which allowed 23.3 points per game this season, so their offensive success tends to make the difference between a win and a loss for ISU. It’s also the final game for linebacker A.J. Klein, who has 98 tackles this season and is two tackles away from recording the third 100-tackle season of his college career. ISU surely wants to send one of the best defensive players in school history out with a bowl win.
Tulsa take from RecruitingNation's Brandon Chatmon: Tulsa earned its AutoZone Liberty Bowl berth after winning their first Conference USA title since 2005. The Golden Hurricane won the Conference USA championship game, 33-27, over Central Florida in overtime on Saturday.
Tulsa hasn’t had one spectacular individual on offense this season yet the Golden Hurricane saw three different running backs rush for 765 yards or more in 2012. Running backs Trey Watts, Ja'Terian Douglas and Alex Singleton helped TU average 240.2 rushing yards per game this season.
The Golden Hurricane won seven straight games after a 38-23 season-opening loss to Iowa State and rebounded from a disappointing 35-27 loss at SMU, which finished 6-6, before winning the C-USA title game.