Tulsa-Iowa State Rematch To Have Much Different Look

Friday, December 28th 2012, 1:23 am
By: News On 6

You know the words. You hear the song every New Year's so feel free to sing along.

"Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?"

Scrap that.

This New Year's Eve, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will be reunited with an old acquaintance: Iowa State.

TU opened the 2012 season against the Cyclones, took a 16-7 lead, then couldn't hang on.

The Golden Hurricane will look to sing a different tune this time around when they face an Iowa State squad that looks almost nothing like the one they saw on Sept. 1.

The season opened in Ames with Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett battling for the starting quarterback role with Jantz eventually winning the job. Now there's a new guy in the mix, freshman Sam Richardson, who has turned in two very impressive performances in as many opportunities.

Richardson's mobility adds a new dynamic to the Cyclones' attack. In his two starts, Richardson has thrown for 412 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions, while also scampering for 162 yards and a score.

In addition to the quarterback change, the Cyclones will be playing without two of their best players—guys who played big roles back on Sept. 1.

Linebacker Jake Knott, who had 11 tackles in the previous matchup, had season-ending shoulder surgery, and Shontrelle Johnson, who ran for 120 yards and a touchdown last time against the Hurricane, is out with a knee injury.

Iowa State isn't the only team that has a different look to it. The Golden Hurricane was facing an identity crisis back in September as Bill Blankenship's offense was transitioning from its 2011 form, a spread-it-out passing attack under former quarterback G.J. Kinne, to the 2012 version, one of the most dominant running games in the country.

At the time, TU's No. 1 receiver was Bryan Burnham, whose fumble was the turning point in the first matchup. Leading 16-7 and on the move, Burnham coughed it up and Iowa State seized the momentum it would never relinquish. I'm in no way condemning Burnham, who is an excellent player, but it was his injury that left TU without a proven go-to-guy and pushed the coaching staff to focus on the run game that worked so well this season.

Burnham's injury also allowed sophomore Keyarris Garrett to emerge as a star. Garrett grabbed the spotlight by the throat, hauling in 826 yards and nine touchdowns on the season and seems to get better every week.

In addition to Garrett's rise, senior running back Alex Singleton broke out to have one of the most impressive seasons for any player at any position in school history. Singleton turned from a seldom-used goal-line specialist into a record-setting face of the offense. The A-Train carried for 765 yards and a whopping 21 touchdowns, shattering TU's single-season TD record, all-time rushing and total TD records and moving into No. 5 all-time on the Conference USA rushing touchdown list.

Singleton only received three touches in the first meeting in Ames. Think that'll change?

Iowa State is a team on the decline (3-6 since 3-0 start) while Tulsa is red hot, winning 10 of 12 since the season-opener. You can read into that if you want, but bowl games tend to be about as predictable as a coin flip.

One thing is certain: the sequel will have a much different look than the original. We'll have to wait until New Year's Eve to find out if it has a better ending for the Golden Hurricane.