It’s only taken two years for coach Philip Montgomery to bring a winning football team back to the city of Tulsa. Tulsa not only won ten games in 2016, they became the first school in NCAA history to produce a 3,000 yard passer, two 1,000 yard receivers, and two 1,000 yard rushers! One of those 1,000 yard rushers, D’angelo Brewer, will be returning for his senior season to help this team pick up where they left off; but with Tulsa facing nine bowl teams this season, it will be no easy task.
September 2 @ Oklahoma State - Tulsa will open their 2017 season by traveling to Stillwater to face an in-state rival for the first time since 2011 where Oklahoma State came away with a 59-33 victory in Tulsa. Many people remember that game (or try to forget it) because it didn’t start until midnight and Tulsa lost their starting quarterback in the first quarter.
Nothing seemed to go Tulsa’s way in that game but the Golden Hurricane will look to pull off the upset in Boone Pickens Stadium against a Cowboys team who also finished last season with ten wins and a dominating bowl performance. Oklahoma State finished 2016 ranked #11 in the BCS rankings and will no doubt start 2017 ranked in the top 15 with the return of Mason Rudolph and James Washington . A win here would be a huge confidence booster for Tulsa and could very well bring a momentum for the Golden Hurricane to carry into the rest of the season.
September 9 VS UL Lafayette - To find any history on this matchup, you have to go all the way back to 1992. This is a team that seems to still be hurting from the winning seasons and bowl victories that UL Lafayette had to vacate because of the NCAA violations committed by former assistant coach, David Saunders. The Golden Hurricane currently hold a two win streak against the Ragin’ Cajuns but UL Lafayette leads the series total at 5-4. Tulsa should have no problem extending their win streak to three wins against UL Lafayette and even the series at 5-5.
September 16 @ Toledo - These two teams haven’t faced each other in over 50 years. Jason Candle is coming into his second season as head coach of the Rockets and he led them to a 9-4 season in 2016. Toledo had some tremendous success in the passing game last season with Logan Woodside throwing for over 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns with only nine interceptions. This could be an exciting matchup for Tulsa.
September 23 VS New Mexico - Bob Davie’s Lobos have found some success in the Mountain West Conference over the past two years. The Lobos feature a strong running game, including a dual-threat quarterback in Lamar Jordan. New Mexico finished the season at 9-4, 6-2 in conference play which helped them tie for first place with Boise State. Tulsa had no problem handling New Mexico in 2014, handing the Lobos a 40-21 loss in University Stadium. This time around, Tulsa looks to have similar results only this time, they’ll get to do it in front of their home crowd.
September 30 VS Navy - The Midshipmen had tremendous success over the last few years and in 2016 it was no different. Navy dominated the AAC and finished with an impressive 10-4 record and 7-1 in conference play. Navy lost their bowl game against LA Tech on a last second field goal but still managed to finish in the top 25 in the final BCS rankings. This game has a lot of meaning behind it for the Golden Hurricane. Last season, Tulsa was unable to contain Will Worth, who ran for three touchdowns and threw for one leading Navy to a 42-40 win in Annapolis. The Golden Hurricane will no doubt be looking for revenge in their first conference game of the season when the Midshipmen head into town. This one should be great.
October 7 @ Tulane - Willie Fritz had some success at Georgia Southern, but his first season as head coach of Tulane didn’t bring the same success. Tulane finished dead last in the AAC at 1-7. The Golden Hurricane had no problem handling Tulane in Tulsa last season as they handed the Green Wave a 50-27 loss. 2017 shouldn’t be any different.
October 14 VS Houston - This is one that I think every Tulsa fan is waiting for. Houston was the talk of college football last season after taking down a top-ranked Oklahoma and even Lamar Jackson’s Cardinals. The Cougars lost close games to Navy and Memphis and ended the season with a two game losing streak, including a blowout by San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
We all remember last season when these two teams played, Tulsa tied the game against the #13 ranked Cougars with 3:30 left in the game and then forced a punt on the Cougars following drive. Tulsa got the ball back with 1:30 to go and Dane Evans completed a big pass to get to their own 33 yard line only to be sacked on the following play and lose the ball, which Houston scooped up and scored to take a 38-31 lead and, eventually, the win. Houston will travel to Tulsa for a much anticipated rematch with a new head coach this year. I expect this to be a great game.
October 21 @ UConn - After coming out strong at the beginning of the season, the Huskies went from being competitive with Navy on the road, to scoring three points in three games. UConn finished the season at 3-9, 1-7 in conference, and decided to bring back their former head coach, Randy Edsall. This will be the first trip to Rentschler Field and Tulsa should easily take a 1-0 lead in this new series against the Huskies.
October 27 @ SMU - The Mustangs showed signs of life last season, even though they finished 5-7 and 3-5 in conference play. SMU was able to drop the ranked Houston Cougars but couldn’t handle any of their other key games. The Mustangs did manage to drag Tulsa into overtime last season, eventually losing by three points after settling for a field goal and then watching Dane Evans scramble into the endzone for the win. Chad Morris and his young Mustangs will look to even the score this season in Dallas in what should shape up to be a good game.
November 3 VS Memphis - Memphis has been bowl eligible for three seasons in a row now and the Tigers handed convincing losses to Tulsa both at home and on the road in two of those three seasons. 2016 was a different story for the Golden Hurricane. Memphis had another successful season finishing 8-5, 5-3 in conference play, and knocking off ranked Houston in their regular season finale but Tulsa was able to hand the Tigers a convincing 59-30 loss in Memphis. The Golden Hurricane will look to extend their win streak against Memphis this year as they host the Tigers on a Friday night game.
November 18 @ USF - This game is huge for Tulsa. South Florida had an amazing 2016 season, finishing 11-2, 7-1 in conference play, including an impressive win against South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. These two teams haven’t met since 2004 when the Bulls scored 24 unanswered points in the 2nd half en route to handing the Golden Hurricane a 38-30 loss in Tulsa. USF’s dual-threat quarterback, Quinton Flowers, has quietly had an outstanding career with the Bulls and will look to cap it off with a great senior season under new head coach Charlie Strong. This one should be another great game.
November 25 VS Temple - Temple is another one of those teams that quietly had a successful season in 2016. The Owls finished the season at 10-4, 7-1 in conference play, and had an impressive win against Navy late in the season. Two of Temple’s losses were decided by a single touchdown against formidable opponents Penn State, and Memphis. These two teams last met in 2014 in Philadelphia where the Owls scored 14 unanswered in the 4th quarter to take a 35-24 victory. Three years later, the Golden Hurricane look to host the Owls in what should be a good finish to their regular season.
This season will undoubtedly be a challenge for Coach Montgomery and the Golden Hurricane. I expect some hard fought wins and maybe even some upsets in 2017 en route to another bowl eligible season for Tulsa. September can’t come quick enough.