Thursday, December 29, 2011
Armed Forces Bowl: BYU vs. Tulsa
By Andrea Adelson
BYU (9-3) takes on Tulsa (8-4) in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Friday at noon in Dallas. Here is a quick preview:
WHO TO WATCH: Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne. What Kinne has been able to do with the Golden Hurricane is pretty remarkable, when you consider he has played for three different offensive coordinators. This season, Kinne became the third Tulsa quarterback to go over 9,000 yards passing in a career. He now has 9,258 career passing yards, ranking third on the school's all-time list. Kinne also has thrown 78 touchdown passes and ranks second in school history. He is five behind Paul Smith, so catching up with a huge game against BYU is not out of the realm of possibility. Kinne can run, too -- he is the only quarterback in school history to pass for more than 6,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards.
WHAT TO WATCH: Tulsa run game versus BYU run defense. Both teams rank in the top 25 in the nation in their respective categories of run offense and run defense. The Golden Hurricane have two backs that have gone for more than 800 yards -- in addition to Kinne racking up more than 400. Ja'Terian Douglas, Trey Watts and Kinne have more combined rushing yards than BYU's entire team. Seeing Douglas and Watts emerge has been huge for the Golden Hurricane -- Kinne led the team in rushing the past two seasons. BYU has been solid against the run this season, allowing only three 100-yard rushers. BYU does have a size advantage on its defensive line and rotates in plenty of players. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy has been the best player on the defense, leading the team with 10 tackles for loss and five sacks. He has come up big in run support and has defended the pass as well, so he is a definite player Tulsa must watch.
WHY TO WATCH: BYU has been one of the most consistent programs in the nation, save for last season. A victory would give the Cougars their fifth 10-win season in the past six years. It will also be the 16th 10-win season in school history, which ranks 13th among all current FBS teams, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Given that success, BYU has never won three bowl games in a row. The Cougars go into this game having won two straight bowls.
PREDICTION: BYU 30, Tulsa 27. These teams are about as evenly matched as you can get, with quarterbacks who like to run, a backfield that isn't reliant on one player and linebackers who are capable of making plays. Kinne has an edge on Riley Nelson, but BYU has the edge on defense and up front -- and that will be enough to lead BYU to the victory.