Wednesday, May 18, 2011
C-USA BCS Buster: Tulsa
By Andrea Adelson
Tulsa has gotten a lot of buzz this offseason as a potential BCS buster, even with one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country. The Golden Hurricane ended last season with seven straight wins -- that included four games in which they scored 50-plus points. Tulsa ended the season with the No. 5 total offense in the nation, No. 6 scoring offense and a No. 24 ranking in the final AP poll. With 18 starters returning, expectations are high for at least a Conference USA championship.
Why they have a shot: The Golden Hurricane return two of the best players in C-USA in quarterback G.J. Kinne and all-purpose man Damaris Johnson. Kinne is on his third new offensive coordinator at Tulsa, but hopefully there will be an easy transition because of the familiarity new coach Bill Blankenship has with him and what he can do. Johnson already owns the NCAA record for career all-purpose yards and has the potential to get to 10,000. The defense got better as the season went on, with freshmen Marco Nelson, Shawn Jackson and Cody Wilson stepping up in a big way. Linebacker Curnelius Arnick should have a breakout season. The nonconference schedule is incredibly difficult, but if the Golden Hurricane manage to win all their games, they would have an excellent shot at getting into a BCS game, especially since one of those wins will be against Boise State.
Why they won't make it: See above, brutal nonconference schedule. The Golden Hurricane open the season at Oklahoma, then travel to Tulane before playing Oklahoma State at home and Boise State on the road. That means Tulsa has to play three teams projected to be in the Top 10. Of course, SEC fans are reading this thinking their teams have to do that every year. If you are good enough, you win every game. Aside from the nonconference schedule, Tulsa also must travel to play C-USA champ UCF. SMU and Houston come to Tulsa, so that could make the difference for a division title.