TULSA, Oklahoma – You can make the case that, across the entire nation, the most difficult first four weeks of the season belong to the University of Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane faces three teams ranked in the top eight and plays a conference road game in the first month of the year, with only one of those games at home.
Difficult start or not, the players say they're up for it.
"I love the schedule. It's going to give us the publicity that we want," said senior linebacker Curnelius Arnick. "It gives us a chance to shine. If it was up to me, I'd throw a couple more Big 12 or Pac-10 schools in there."
Tulsa opens the season on the road against the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners on Sept. 3. They travel to Tulane the following week before returning home for No. 8 Oklahoma State on Sept. 17. They wrap up the month against No. 7 Boise State in Idaho.
"It's a great opportunity for us," said senior lineman Tyler Holmes. "We put ourselves in a [good] position the last few years and we've won a bunch of games. We just have to go out there this year and take advantage of them."
Tulsa met the local media for the first time as a team on Thursday. The tone of the sessions was upbeat with players touting their hopes of a Conference-USA championship chances as very real. Tulsa was picked to finish second in the conference in a media poll from writers around the league.
Tulsa's schedule has the chance to make them or break them early on. New head coach Bill Blankenship called the non-conference matchups ‘measuring stick' games.
By comparison, the Sooners will play three of the top nine teams in the nation over the course of the season, but those games are all spread out. The Cowboys are ranked No. 8 in the country and will play the Sooners and Texas A&M. Both are ranked in the top nine.