Tulsa may be a quarter-way through the 2012 campaign, but the truth is, we don't know much more about TU than we did before the season started. The Golden Hurricane has only played one game against a formidable opponent (Iowa State), and was wildly inconsistent. The past two have been against inferior opponents, and while TU has looked very good in both, you have to wonder if the improvement is just a benefactor of the competition level.
We'll find out exactly where the Hurricane stands Saturday night when the high-powered Fresno State Bulldogs come to town, fresh off a 69-14 thumping of Colorado. The Bulldogs' offense has been on a roll, averaging 515 yards and 44 points per game this season. The Dogs' only loss of the season came at Oregon, where they still scored 25 points.
Fresno is led by Derek Carr, younger brother of former Bulldog great David. Carr has been stellar, throwing for eight touchdowns and just one interception so far this season. Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship is well-aware of the challenge ahead.
"He's (Carr) really managing the game very well, throwing at a very high percentage, somewhere around a 70 percent completion rate" Blankenship said. "He's got very good weapons with him, he's got their all-time leading rusher and they've got a couple of top receivers."
But before you worry too much, it is important to point out that Tulsa's offense has been pretty explosive in its own right. In fact, TU's offense has been slightly better. The Hurricane is averaging 525 total yards and 45 points per game.
Fresno head coach Tim Deruyter recognizes the explosiveness of the Hurricane's offense and the difficulties that come with trying to stop it.
"They're uptempo, they're going to spread you out, they're going to go multiple personnel groupings and they've got some explosive players" Deruyter said. "You look at them, they've got backs who break tackles and go the distance, they've got receivers who can go up and catch the ball over people."
If you like high-scoring shootouts, there's a very good chance this will keep your attention.
The defense that can string together some stops and either hold the opponent to some field goals or even force a few turnovers will win this game. While Fresno's offense has looked great so far, I'm just not quite sold on the entire package yet. Their two wins are over Weber State and a terrible Colorado team, and don't forget they only won four games last season. It's hard to get a read on either one of these teams, but I just feel Tulsa has more talent across the board, not to mention the game is in Tulsa.
I'll take the Hurricane. 38-31.