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Preview: Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Toledo Rockets

Tulsa’s defense looks to make a statement vs. Toledo

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Oklahoma State
Tulsa has given up 50.5 points a game this season and faces a Toledo team that averages 42 a game.
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Start Time: Saturday, Sept. 16 7 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN3

Live Coverage: Big Country 99.5 FM, stats available at TulsaHurricane.com

Location: Glass Bowl Stadium, Toledo, Ohio

The Series: Series tied 1-1, with Tulsa winning the last meeting 39-16 on Nov. 21, 1964

Betting Line: As of Friday, Toledo is favored by 8.5 points.

Tulsa Outlook: Although Tulsa regained positive momentum last week after their home opening victory against Louisiana, the Golden Hurricane’s defense was not satisfied after giving up 42 points in their 24-point win. Tulsa obtained their first two turnovers of the season, with safety Manny Bunch and linebacker Cooper Edmiston coming down with interceptions in the second half.

The Golden Hurricane had multiple opportunities to get Louisiana Lafayette’s offense off the field on third down, but Tulsa’s defense gave up seven out of 12 conversions on third down, something head coach Philip Montgomery said needed to change heading into the upcoming games.

“Defensively, we need to do a better job on first down, and stop some of those explosive plays and get off the field when we get (opponents) in third-and-long,” Montgomery said after Tulsa’s win on Sept. 9.

Relying heavily on D’Angelo Brewer’s career-high 262 rushing yards, so far the top rushing performance in college football, Tulsa’s offense carried the defense to victory last week. The Golden Hurricane gave up 640 yards to Oklahoma State that resulted in 59 points in their opening week game on Aug. 31.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Oklahoma State
Tulsa came up with their first two turnovers of the season against Louisiana last week.
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Edmiston said that the defense is not leaning on the offense’s high scoring and that their overall goal is to improve overall.

“The defense is going to have to step it up now because we can’t rely on the offense to score 66 points [every game],” Edmiston said on Sept. 9.”Heck of a job for them and as a group for the defense, we just have to get better overall.”

Toledo Outlook: Toledo heads into Saturday’s game undefeated and coming off a win at Nevada this past week. With Tulsa facing a team that has only turned the ball over twice, that will be key for the Golden Hurricane to steal a win on the road.

Momentum quickly swung after Edmiston’s interception late in the third quarter, with Tulsa taking a 17-point lead off a touchdown following the turnover.

“We try to feed off of each other once somebody makes a play,” Bunch said. “We get pumped and then you’re like, ‘I’m going to go make a play.’”

The Rockets’ offense averages 42 points per game while only allowing 18.5 per game to the opposition. Toledo is led by senior quarterback Logan Woodside, who is coming off compiling 232 passing yards with two touchdowns against Nevada and 314 yards in week one against Elon.

Going up against a high-powered offense once again, Tulsa’s defense could be the difference between winning and losing their week three battle.

Prediction: While Toledo is picked as the favorite, Tulsa’s offense has not shown signs of slowing down. Tulsa has a deep running game and with quarterback Chad President having a full-game start under his belt, it is only positive from there.

The Golden Hurricane’s defense may still give up a lot of points, but Tulsa’s offense should be the difference once again in this tightly contested game.

Tulsa 35-31