Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE (4-2, 2-0 C-USA)
Tulsa has handled the teams that it should have beaten and lost to the teams it should have lost to, but now that conference play is in full swing, things should get interesting for the Golden Hurricane. After this week’s game against an unpredictable UTEP team, Tulsa has four consecutive games against strong opponents that could determine the outcome of the Golden Hurricane’s season.
Best-case scenario: Tulsa finds the rhythm that led them to strong first and fourth quarters against Boise State and uses that to propel them through the conference season and to their third consecutive West Division title. The Golden Hurricane go on to the conference championship and defeat Marshall for the conference crown.
Worst-case scenario: Tulsa’s offense, including its offensive line, plays as poorly as it did against Boise State in quarters two and three, and the Golden Hurricane get dominated by the strong offenses of Houston and SMU and the strong defenses of East Carolina and Southern Miss. The Golden Hurricane find themselves in a rebuilding year trying to figure out what happened to the dominance they enjoyed the past two seasons.
Prediction: Tulsa doesn’t get through this second half unscathed. Their inconsistent play will come back to haunt them, especially against Houston and East Carolina. Tulsa still will finish as one of the conference’s top teams and end up in the Armed Forces Bowl.