Throughout the week, we've talked about what factors will likely determine the outcome to this game. Everything from coaching to players to ball-security to crowd noise.
The matchups have been broken down and every angle has been covered. So instead of the regular matchup breakdown, this week we're going to drop some fun facts and things to watch for (and of course the prediction).
• Saturday will mark the fourth time the Golden Hurricane has played for the Conference USA championship. UCF will have now been the opponent on three of the four occasions.
• TU defeated the Knights in Orlando to claim the 2005 C-USA title in the Hurricane's first year as a member of the conference. Now, TU will look to beat UCF again, this time in the Knights' final season as a member of the conference.
• Tulsa leads the all-time series against UCF 4-2 and is 2-0 against the Knights at home.
• Bill Blankenship is 6-0 in his two seasons against opponents from C-USA's East division.
• TU has never lost a home game to an East Division opponent not named East Carolina. 0-2 all-time at home against the Pirates, 12-0 all-time at home against others.
• Senior safety Dexter McCoil has 17 career interceptions, one shy of the Conference USA record held by Louisville's Anthony Floyd.
• Senior running back Alex Singleton has 38 career rushing touchdowns. His 39th would tie him for fifth place on Conference USA's all-time rushing touchdown list with Chicago Bears Pro-Bowler Matt Forte.
• Junior tailback Trey Watts needs 97 rushing yards to become the 13th player in TU history to reach the 2,000 career rushing yard mark. Ja'Terian Douglas reached the milestone earlier in the season. If Watts can get there, it would mark only the second duo of teammates in TU history with 2,000 career rushing yards (Micheal Gunter & Ken Lacy in 1982).
• Senior fullback Willie Carter needs 37 total yards to reach the 2,000 total yards mark for his career.
• A win would give TU its fourth 10-win season in six years.
A popular discussion in the NFL is the difficulty of handling a team during the regular season and then again in the postseason. The thought process is that it's hard to beat a good team on multiple occasions under different circumstances, but that's the challenge facing the Golden Hurricane Saturday.
The Knights will want revenge. They'll want to send a strong message in their final game as a member of C-USA. They want a championship.
With ECU, SMU, Houston, Tulane, Memphis and of course UCF leaving for the Big East this offseason, Tulsa is the unquestioned face of C-USA moving forward. The Golden Hurricane also wants to deliver a message: this is now their league.
I expect a similar matchup to what we saw the first time around: good defense, efficient offense and the game coming down to a handful of little plays.
I also expect a similar result.
I'll take Tulsa, 27-23.