It's the most wonderful time of the year. No, there's no snow, no reindeer, no mistletoe or Santa cookies. Instead there will be draw plays, corner blitzes, deep passes and tailgates. College football season is back, and just two days away.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane enters 2012 with the potential for a very merry season. The 2012 campaign begins Saturday with trip to Ames to face the Iowa State Cyclones in what could be an enormous game. As I explained in my season preview article, if Tulsa can win this game they have a very good chance of heading into the Arkansas game with an 8-0 record and a top-15 national ranking. If the Hurricane loses, they could still have a great season, but it would certainly take away a lot of excitement.
While conventional wisdom would pick the Big-12 team to win its home opener over a C-USA team, Tulsa is actually a 1 1/2-point favorite over the Cyclones.
Tulsa returns its top three rushers from 2011, three of its top four receivers and new quarterback Cody Green will look to make a major impact. Defensively, the Hurricane returns a stout defensive line along with star safety Dexter McCoil.
The Cyclones' defense allowed nearly 30 points per game in 2011 and only returns one starter on its defensive line. That's not a good combination against Tulsa's high-powered rushing attack.
ISU's offense will rely on the improvement of quarterback Steele Jantz. The junior-college transfer threw more interceptions than touchdowns in 2011 and will have to play much better if Iowa State wants to have any offensive consistency this season.
Iowa State has a vocal and loyal fan base that will fill Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, but don't expect Tulsa to be bothered. TU will draw from the experience of playing true road games at Oklahoma and Boise State in 2011 and don't underestimate the Cody Green factor. Green used to quarterback Nebraska, where every game is raucous. He started for the Huskers at ISU in 2010, coming away a winner. You better believe Green will use the been-there-done-that-factor to get his teammates ready to play.
Expect a higher-scoring affair Saturday with each school's offense overwhelming the other's defense. Tulsa has the potential for a magical year in 2012, but in order for that to come true the Hurricane must take care of business Saturday.
I say they do. 34-31 TU.