Start Time: Saturday, Sept. 23 12:35 p.m. CT
Live Coverage: Big Country 99.5 FM, stats available at TulsaHurricane.com
Location: H.A. Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Series: Tulsa leads the series 5-2, with the Golden Hurricane winning the last meeting 40-21 on Sept. 12, 2015
Betting Line: As of Thursday, Tulsa is favored by 11 points.
Tulsa Outlook: Tulsa’s main focus this week has to be shifted towards their defense. After giving up more than 50 points in their second game of the season, the Golden Hurricane let a three-point game to Toledo slip through their fingers.
Part of the defensive problem is that the defense is very young, still learning the aspects of college football. Two-year sophomores Manny Bunch and Cooper Edmiston lead Tulsa in tackles with 25 apiece and are also tied in takeaways with one interception each.
As shown in the Louisiana game, Tulsa’s defense can turn the game around when they force turnovers. When Bunch and Edmiston came down with interceptions in back-to-back possessions, the momentum swung in Tulsa’s favor that resulted in a 24-point win. Momentum swung in Tulsa’s favor again against Toledo early in the first half when Craig Suits picked off a Logan Woodside pass and dashed 37 yards for the score, putting the Golden Hurricane ahead 21-7.
Tulsa has only managed to force five turnovers combined this season.
The Golden Hurricane’s offense is doing more than enough, with the running game charging slicing through defenses like a hot knife through butter. Tulsa has three rushers listed in the top 10 for rushing statistics as of this week, with D’Angelo Brewer being second, Shamari Brooks sixth and Chad President 10th. The trio rushed for over 100 yards each against Toledo, something that has not been done since Nov. 1, 1986.
President has gotten himself comfortable at quarterback, throwing 44-of-75 passes for 546 yards and rushing for 214 yards since being named the starter. He became the first quarterback since Nov. 12, 2010 to rush for more than 100 yards when he rushed for 130 and added two touchdowns against Toledo.
While Tulsa’s offense has been the major contributor this season, New Mexico’s defense has not given up more than 30 points this season.
New Mexico Outlook: After losing a tight contest to New Mexico State at home, the Lobos hung around at Boise State the following week. They kept Boise State off the scoreboard for 27 minutes from the second to start of the fourth quarter until the Broncos put the game away with two touchdowns from Jake Roh.
New Mexico’s offense thrives off the running game. Averaging 211 yards per game on the ground, tied for 35th in the country, Daryl Chestnut leads the charge with 136 yards off 18 carries and two touchdowns.
The passing game is spread out, with New Mexico having three receivers with more than 100 yards. Chris Davis Jr. leads the receivers with 158 yards while Jay Griffin IV carries half of the receiving touchdowns with two scores while hauling in 131 yards.
Unlike Tulsa, New Mexico’s defense holds their opponents’ offense down, averaging only 24 points per game given up. Following the 24-point victory over Abilene Christian, the Lobos were unable to make plays down the stretch that resulted in two consecutive losses. With the Golden Hurricane also looking to get back to a winning formula, New Mexico’s defense can be the difference between getting back on the winning tracks or extending the losing streak to three games.
Prediction: Another home game is most likely another win for Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane have not lost a home game since Nov. 21, 2015 and New Mexico’s offense is not strong enough to pull off this upset. This could be a high-scoring affair, but Tulsa’s offense will shine brighter.