2012 Liberty Bowl Breakdown: Iowa St vs. Tulsa
Who: Iowa State Cyclones (6-6) vs Tulsa Golden Hurricane (10-3)
When: New Year's Eve, 3:30 PM EST
Line: Cyclones by 2
Ross: Welcome to game two of the three-game Iowa State-Tulsa series! These two teams met in Ames at the start of this season (ISU won 38-23) and they'll meet in Tulsa at the start of next season. So, yes, in the span of fourteen games, they'll play each other three times. Hooray for diversity! Iowa State opened the season 3-0 but went just 3-6 once the season hit Big XII play. They scored their annual upset over a ranked team (then-ranked #15 TCU), gave Kansas State one of their toughest games of the year (a 27-21 loss), and didn't really have any bad losses. Tulsa rattled off seven straight wins after their loss to Iowa State, but lost to SMU and Arkansas in the season's closing stretch.
Normally a C-USA team losing to an SEC team wouldn't bring any shame... but Arkansas was such a mess this year and Tulsa was pretty good, so that one is more of a head-scratcher than it otherwise would be. In their first encounter, the Iowa State offense was unusually prolific (they scored 38 points, their second-highest total of the year) and they kept the high-flying Tulsa offense in check (just 23 points). Will anything be different in the rematch? UCF and Arkansas were the only other defenses to hold Tulsa to 23 points or fewer this season and with ISU missing one of their best defensive players (LB Jake Knott), I have my doubts. Iowa State probably needs to score at least 28 points to win this game... unfortunately their anemic offense scored less than that in 7 of their 12 games this year. I think Tulsa knots up this three-game series at one apiece.
TULSA 35, IOWA STATE 27 Kevin: It's tough to beat a team twice in one season so the big question is if the Cyclones can do it twice against Tulsa. Iowa State plays a tough style that I don't think Tulsa plays well against. In the C-USA, Tulsa doesn't play against many teams that like to run the football so I think the Cylones will find a lot of success in that aspect of the game. This will come down to Tulsa's offense vs the Cyclones defense and whoever wins that war will win the game. IOWA STATE 26 TULSA 23
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