Armed Forces Bowl Preview: Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs BYU Cougars

2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Gerald Ford Stadium – Dallas, Texas
Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs Brigham Young Cougars
Friday, December 30, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Pick
Current Line: Tulsa -1
Opening Total: 55 1/2
Current Total: 56 1/2
Opening Money Line: Tulsa -110 / BYU -110
Current Money Line: Tulsa -120 / BYU +100

G.J. Kinne and the Golden Hurricane are a 1 point favorite over BYU in the Armed Forces Bowl Friday in Dallas.

The BYU Cougars finished the season 9-3 under coach Bronco Mendenhall in their first year as an independent. The Cougars take on the 8-4 Tulsa Golden Hurricane of Conference USA in the Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas Friday afternoon. Tulsa is coached by Bill Blankenship in his first year as coach. BYU has losses at Texas 17-16, at home to arch-rival Utah 54-10, and against TCU 38-28 in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.  BYU has wins over Ole Miss 14-13, Central Florida 24-17, Utah St 27-24, Oregon St 38-28, and Hawaii 41-20. BYU is 11-17-1 all time in bowl games. They won the New Mexico Bowl last year 52-24 against UTEP. It was the first time since the 2001 Liberty Bowl that BYU played in a bowl other than the Las Vegas Bowl.

Tulsa has losses at Oklahoma 47-14, and at Boise St 41-21, and home losses to Oklahoma St 59-33, and Houston 48-16. All are in the top 20 in the BCS standings. The Houston loss to end the season snapped a 7 game winning streak for Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane have wins over Tulane 31-3, North Texas, 41-24, Rice 38-20, SMU 38-7, Central Florida 24-17, Marshall 59-17, and UTEP 57-28. Tulsa is 8-9 all time in bowl games. The Hurricane have won 3 straight bowl games, including a 62-35 thrashing of Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. BYU leads the series 6-1 against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane got their only win in the series in the last meeting in 2007. The two were briefly conference rivals from 1996 to 1999 in the WAC.

Tulsa averages 454.4 yards a game including 249.8 passing yards, and 204.6 rushing yards. Tulsa averages 34.1 points a game. Interestingly, Tulsa is #23 in total, rushing, and scoring offense. Tulsa has 31 turnovers and has allowed 15 sacks this season. Tulsa is 75/174 on third and fourth down conversions, and 42/53 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns. The Golden Hurricane allow 420.7 yards a game including 289.3 passing yards and 131.3 rushing yards. Only Arizona and Memphis gave up more passing yards than the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa gives up 27.6 points a game. Tulsa has forced 26 turnovers and 24 sacks this season. Hurricane opponents are 95/220 on third and fourth down conversions, and 37/48 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns. Tulsa has 3 interception returns for touchdowns and a kickoff return.

Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne is 230/359 passing (64.1% completion) for 2,876 yards, with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions along with 112 carries, 405 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Back-up Kalen Henderson has 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in limited action. Running back Je’tarian  Douglas has 108 carries, 884 yards, and 4 touchdowns, plus 9 catches for 54 yards. Trey Watts has 147 carries, 843 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 29 catches, 230 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Watts returns kicks and punts as well and has over 1,500 all-purpose yards. He has the only kick return for a touchdown for Tulsa. Alex Singleton has 82 carries, 279 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Receiver Willie Carter has 61 catches, 868 yards, and 7 touchdown receptions, plus 2 rushing touchdowns. Bryan Burnham has 50 catches, 737 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Clay Sears has 35 catches, 438 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Ricky Johnson has only 11 catches but has 3 touchdowns. Kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick is 48/50 on extra points and 15/17 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. Three Tulsa defensive players are listed as questionable or out for the bowl game.

BYU is averaging 410.8 yards a game including 165.8 rushing yards and 245 passing yards. The Cougars score 30.6 points a game. BYU has 25 turnovers and has allowed 14 sacks. The Cougars are 95/182 on third and fourth down conversions, and 40/51 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns. BYU is allowing 316.3 yards a game including198 passing yards and 118.3 rushing yards. The Cougars are allowing 20.3 points a game. The Cougars are in the top 27 in all categories. BYU has forced 21 sacks and 23 turnovers this season. Cougar opponents are 72/184 on third and fourth down conversions, and 24/33 scoring in the red zone with 14 touchdowns. BYU has 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns this year but has allowed 4.

Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps  split the snaps at quarterback this season for BYU, but Heaps transferred to Kansas last week and left the Cougars  Heaps was 144/ 252 passing (57.1% completions)  with 1,452 yards, 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. Nelson is 99/162 passing 961.1% completions) for 1,467 yards, 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 75 carries for 376 yards and a touchdown. Running back J.J. Di Luigi has 106 carries, 546 yards, and 3 touchdowns along with 25 catches for 259 yards. Michael Alisa has 85 carries, 455 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 5 catches, 55 yards, and a touchdown catch. He is doubtful with an ankle injury.  Joshua Quezada has 77 carries for  274 yards and a touchdown, and 4 catches for 21 yards. Bryan Kariya has 67 carries, 271 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 12 catches, 84 yards and a touchdown.  Seven Cougar receivers have at least 23 catches this year. Cody Hoffman has 53 catches, 821 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Hoffman has almost 1,700 all purpose yards and a kickoff return for a TD. Ross Apo has 34catches, 453 yards, and 9 touchdowns. J.D. Falslev has 29 catches, 299 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with a punt return for a touchdown.   McKay Jacobson has  23 catches, 279 yards, and a touchdown.  Six other Cougars have caught a touchdown pass, including the running backs. Kicker Justin Sorensen is 45/45 on extra points and 14/24 on field goals with a long of 46 yards. Twelve Cougar players are listed on the injury report as questionable, doubtful, or out, including 3 running backs, 3 tight ends, and 4 defensive players.

BYU is 8-4 against the spread and the total is 6-6 this season. Tulsa is 7-5 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season. The Golden Hurricane are 5-1 ATS after failing to cover, overall, and after scoring 20 points or less, 4-1 after a straight up loss, in bowl games, and after allowing 40 points or more, 7-2 after a straight up loss of 20 points or more, 5-2 against teams with winning records, 7-3 after a double digit home loss, and 11-5 on turf. The Cougars are 6-0 ATS against teams with winning records, and overall, 5-0 after a straight up win, and after a cover, 4-0 as a favorite, 7-1 after a win by 20 points or more, 6-1 after scoring 40 points or more, 5-1 on turf, 4-1 as a favorite of 3 points or less, and against Conference USA teams, 6-2 in December, 5-2 in neutral site games, and 2-5 in Friday games.

BYU struggled on offense earlier in the season but is moving the ball much better since Nelson took over as the full time starter. Tulsa is awful at stopping the pass, so this could be a shootout. BYU has a stout defense, but Tulsa’s offense is explosive. Over 56 1/2 is the play here, as the game itself is a toss-up. However, if you are going to play BYU you might as well take them on the money line at +100 instead of laying -110 at +1.

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