Monday, December 31, 2012
Pregame: AutoZone Liberty Bowl
By David Ubben
Iowa State (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) vs. Tulsa (10-3, 7-1 Conference USA)
WHO TO WATCH: Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein vs. Tulsa's three-headed monster at running back. The Golden Hurricane won their conference on the backs of Trey Watts, Ja'Terian Douglas and Alex Singleton, who all topped at least 765 yards this season. Watts broke a 77-yard run and finished with 125 yards the first time these two played, but the other two were largely quiet. The problem for Iowa State? Klein's partner in crime, Jake Knott, won't be on the field after suffering a shoulder injury and undergoing surgery earlier this season.
WHAT TO WATCH: If either team can get its passing game rolling, it might win this one easily. There's been inconsistency on both parts, but Nebraska transfer Cody Green is the headline for the Golden Hurricane. Iowa State has started three different quarterbacks this season but landed on freshman Sam Richardson late in the season. He's showed promise, and Tulsa hasn't seen him, but senior Steele Jantz threw for 281 yards in the first matchup.
WHY TO WATCH: Is the second verse the same as the first or not? Tulsa dominated the first quarter of the season opener, racing to a 16-7 lead and looking like the clearly better team. Iowa State handled its business from that point forward. The Cyclones outscored the Golden Hurricane 24-0 over the next two quarters and earned a solid win over an eventual 10-win team to kick off the season. This is the Big 12's only bowl matchup against a non-AQ team, but Tulsa's a squad that knows a lot about winning games.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 27, Tulsa 21. Shontrelle Johnson rushed for 120 yards in the first game, but he's out with a knee injury this time. Still, we'll see James White and Jeff Woody perform admirably in support of Richardson. Josh Lenz hauls in a touchdown grab and tops 100 yards receiving, while the Cyclones prevent the Golden Hurricane from having a 100-yard rusher. Only four teams topped 24 points this season against Iowa State, and Tulsa will go 0-2 on trying to reach that mark.