Recruiting is complete. Schedules are set. Spring practices are right around the corner.
Coaches throughout the country are role playing their schedule to finally begin focusing on what actually awaits them on the gridiron.
"We can win this one, we can win that one"
It's early, I got it, but if coaches are role playing then why can't we?
September 3: San Jose State
Tulsa opens the season at home against a Spartan squad that finished the 2015 regular season at 5-7, yet somehow managed to wiggle their way into a bowl game. Dubbed as the "worst bowl game ever" by their local newspaper, the AutoNation Cure Bowl pitted a sub .500 team against FBS newbies Georgia State. Although San Jose State won 27-16, it did nothing to boost the psyche of a team searching for an identity. The Spartans have their difficulties playing on the road as indicated by their 3-10 record over the past two years. San Jose's scoring offense ranked a pedestrian 69th in 2015 among FBS teams and near the bottom of the Mountain West Conference.
Way Too Early Prediction: Hurricanes start the season off right with a solid home win against a soft SJSU team.
Tulsa 31 - 17 San Jose State
September 10: at Ohio State
The intimidation factor will surely play a role in this game as Tulsa travels to Ohio Stadium to face the 2015 national champions and last year's Fiesta Bowl winners. Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery will be hard pressed to go blow-for-blow with Urban Meyer and his three national championships. However, if there was ever a time for the Hurricanes to produce an upset of epic proportions, the time is now. Taylor Decker, Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Thomas and Cardale Jones are NFL-bound, leaving the offense in a bit of a no-name state, and.....wait for it....this could be a trap game as the Buckeyes may be looking past the Hurricanes as they travel to play Oklahoma the following week. If that isn't enough for Tulsa players to use to their advantage, all they have to look towards for hope is last year's Ohio State - Northern Illinois game. The Huskies fought tooth and nail only to fall short of an upset, losing a tightly contested game 20-13.
Way Too Early Prediction: Despite the "trap" factors laced in this game, Tulsa gives it a go but Urban Meyers' Buckeyes and the 105,00 or so hostile OSU fans prove to be more than the Hurricanes can handle.
Ohio State 30 - 14 Tulsa
September 17: North Carolina A&T
The Aggies have played only one FBS school in recent history-- a 53-14 drubbing at the hands of North Carolina last season. The last FBS team A&T played before that? Get a Snickers because you might be researching for a while. A&T traditionally plays against other historically black colleges leaving little to the imagination for the common fan to recognize. They were named HBCU National Champions among black colleges last year (an award not recognized by the NCAA). If you remember one name from this game, remember RB Tarik Cohen. The 5-foot-6, 173 pound speedster, rushed for 295 yards in last year's finale, scoring on runs of 74, 83 and 73 yards in leading A&T to the mythical title. Cohen took the YouTube world by storm with his viral feeds of back flip catches and amazing plays during practice and games.
Way Too Early Prediction: Tulsa pulls their starters midway through the 3rd quarter after building an insurmountable lead. The Aggies score during garbage time against 2nd & 3rd string Hurricanes. A big win nonetheless.
Tulsa 42 - 24 NC A&T
September 24: at Fresno State
The 3-9 Bulldogs biggest victories in 2015 were against an FCS school (Abilene Christian) and two programs in the MWC that were just as awful (UNLV & Hawaii). Fresno State was one of the more defensively-challenged teams in 2015, getting outscored by nearly 200 points. To make matters worse, Fresno State's defense gave up 234 rushing yards a game while only averaging 137 rushing yards on the offensive side (the FBS average was 167). Defensive-minded head coach Tim DeRuyter vowed to improve play on both sides of the ground game by recruiting three running backs and a crop of seven line backers and defensive lineman to stop the hemorrhaging.
Way Too Early Prediction: The Bulldogs defensive struggles continue as Tulsa scores a confident road win out West to improve to 3-1 headed into American Athletic Conference play.
Tulsa 35 - 14 Fresno State
The scores may be a complete shot in the dark, but the outcomes are fair and impartial. With 6, 3, and 2 win seasons over the past three years, a doable 3-1 start will bode well for an explosive Tulsa offense that certainly maintains the ability to manage a 4-4 conference record (7-5 overall) and a second straight bowl appearance.
Maybe the early success will push Tulsa a little deeper into December this time. How about it Tulsa....8-4?