IOWA STATE CYCLONES (6-6)
vs. TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE (10-3)
Liberty Bowl - Memphis, TN
Kickoff: Monday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Iowa State -2.5, Total: 51
Monday's Liberty Bowl in Memphis will feature two schools that have already played against each other this year, Iowa State and Tulsa.
Iowa State finished the season 3-6 (SU and ATS), all against Big 12 opponents, while Tulsa went 8-1 SU (6-3 ATS) in conference play and captured the C-USA title. These severe weather-nicknamed teams met in Week 1 in Ames, resulting in a 38-23 Cyclones victory. Each school rushed for 160 yards that day with the Golden Hurricane committing three turnovers to just one for ISU. Freshman QB Sam Richardson has been huge in two starts for the Cyclones, throwing for 412 yards, 7 TD and 0 INT. Tulsa has 240 rushing YPG (11th in nation), with three players gaining more than 750 rushing yards.
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Much has changed for Iowa State since it went on a 24-0 run during the season-opening win over Tulsa. QB Steele Jantz threw two TD passes that day, while RB Shontrelle Johnson rumbled for a career-high 120 yards and a touchdown. But Jantz has now been replaced by Richardson, while Johnson, who hasn't reached 75 yards in a game since, will miss this contest with an injured right knee. Richardson played well in the regular-season finale versus West Virginia, throwing for 3 TD and rushing for 119 yars. ISU's defense has struggled all season in the explosive Big 12, ranking 113th in the FBS in passing defense (280 YPG) and 100th in total defense (445 YPG). And with three-time all-conference LB Jake Knott doubtful for this game after shoulder surgery, it won't be easy to stop Tulsa's powerful ground game. The Cyclones also get very little penetration at the line with just 1.25 sacks per game (T-108th in nation) and 4.3 Tackles For Loss per game (T-110th in nation).
Tulsa is playing in its eighth bowl in the past 10 years, and is still riding high from a 33-27 overtime win in the Conference USA title game on Dec. 1. Senior RB Alex Singleton won that game with his 41st career TD and 22nd end-zone trip this season. He has scored at least two touchdowns in nine of 13 games this year. But the Hurricane have two other players with more rushing yards than Singleton, Trey Watts (959 rush yds, 3 TD) and Ja'Terian Douglas (857 rush yds, 7 TD). Tulsa doesn't have a great air attack (221 YPG, 74th in FBS), but junior QB Cody Green (2,499 pass yds, 17 TD, 10 INT) has played well recently, throwing for 818 yards (273 YPG), 7 TD and 3 INT in the past three games. He's also done a great job of avoiding negative plays, as Tulsa allows the fifth-fewest amount of sacks in FBS this year (0.7 per game). Tulsa's defense is anchored by a stout defensive line, most notably star DLs Jared St. John (11.5 sacks) and DeAundre Brown (9 sacks). The Hurricane have the third-most sacks in the nation (3.7 per game) and they rank fourth in the country in Tackles For Loss (8.0 per game).