For the third time in just 391 days, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will meet the Iowa State Cyclones on the gridiron. For the first time of the three, Thursday's showdown will take place at Chapman Stadium in Tulsa.
Tulsa opened the 2012 season at Iowa State, followed by a rematch in last season's Liberty Bowl. The tiebreaker is just days away, so it's time to take a look back at last season's matchups.
Despite Tulsa's success during the 2012 season, the Golden Hurricane had a bumpy start.
On the road in Ames, Iowa, TU held a 16-7 lead in the second quarter and was driving for more. But with 14:12 left in the second, standout receiver Bryan Burnham fumbled the ball after hauling in a catch, and it was all downhill from there.
The Cyclones outscored Tulsa 31-7 the rest of the afternoon en route to a 38-23 final. The score wasn't indicative of how closely-contested that game was, but there was no doubt Tulsa had a lot to fix.
The Hurricane committed three turnovers and allowed 441 total yards to a lowly-regarded ISU offense. Cyclone quarterback Steele Jantz torched the TU defense, tossing 32/45 for 281 yards and two touchdowns.
In the first meeting, record-setting running back Alex Singleton totaled just three carries for one yard and no scores.
After winning the Conference USA championship and earning a spot in the Liberty Bowl, TU earned a second shot at the Cyclones.
Things were much different this time around. Tulsa discovered Singleton's talents to the tune of 800 yards and 24 touchdowns, while the Hurricane defense had stiffened significantly – not allowing another 440-yard performance the rest of the season.
A lot had changed for the Cyclones, too. Jantz was replaced by dynamic freshman Sam Richardson while ISU entered having lost seven of nine games.
Tulsa entered having won 11 of its 13 games since the season-opener, and played with a confidence level ISU couldn't match.
TU ran a whopping 60 times for an incredible 317 yards and four touchdowns en route to the convincing 31-17 win, claiming the Liberty Bell trophy. Tulsa's defense held the Cyclones to just 268 yards, only nine first downs and just 2-14 on third-down conversions.
Thursday night it's winner-take-all in this three-game series. TU and ISU don't have any future meetings on the schedule – so for now, this is it.
Iowa State enters 0-2 after losses to FCS-power Northern Iowa and in-state rival Iowa. Thursday night will be the Cyclones first trip outside the state of Iowa since last season's Liberty Bowl.
The Hurricane doesn't exactly enter this game on fire, suffering blowout losses in the season opener at Bowling Green and last week at Oklahoma. TU did win its home opener, topping Colorado State, 30-27, on a last-second field goal. A win over a Big-12 opponent would be a supreme confidence booster for this young Golden Hurricane team as it prepares to enter C-USA play in two weeks.
Check back Thursday morning for a complete game breakdown along with a prediction.