MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Trey Watts rushed for 149 yards, Alex Singleton ran for three scores and Tulsa beat Iowa State 31-17 on Monday in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, avenging a season-opening loss to the Cyclones.
Iowa State rallied to beat Tulsa 38-23 on Sept. 1, but the Golden Hurricane put together the comeback in the rematch. Tulsa trailed 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Golden Hurricane (11-3) posted the second 11-win season in school history. Tulsa, which has the smallest enrollment of any Football Bowl Subdivision program, also finished 11-3 in 2008.
Iowa State (6-7) was seeking its second winning season in the last seven years.
Tulsa scored two touchdowns in the first four minutes of the second quarter to pull ahead for good.
Singleton’s three scores gave him a school-record 24 touchdown runs this season.
Kevin Lonnquist’s take on Tulsa 31, Iowa State 17
Name of the Game: Tulsa had several motivations to win this game. First, the Golden Hurricane wanted to prove it could beat a BCS team. So many times this program came close and just missed. Second, the drive to represent Conference USA as its champion proved enough. Finally, repeat matchups are always harder for the team that won the first meeting. Iowa State has had quarterback problems all year and that was again a problem. New star Sam Richardson struggled throwing for only 129 yards before being replaced by Steele Jantz. By the way, CUSA went 4-1 in bowl games this year.
Key Stat: 317 rushing yards for Tulsa. That’s been the Tulsa mainstay throughout the season. It was very solid.
The Hero: Tulsa running back Trey Watts went over 1,000 yards for the season by rushing for 149 yards. He’s been money in the Golden Hurricane’s two biggest games of the year, rushing for 134 in the CUSA championship game against Central Florida and surpassing that total against the Cyclones.
Looking Ahead: This program loses two special linebackers in A.J. Klein and Jake Knott. They were the heart and soul of this program. So coach Paul Rhoads has to decide who replaces them. Most importantly, if Rhoads is truly committed to Richardson as his starting quarterback, then this offseason will require diligence to prepare him for next fall.
Bottom Line: It’s really hard to consider the Cyclones a Big 12 championship contender in 2013. There is a lot of work to be done on both sides of the ball. Again, the goal will be for this program to find a way to get to six wins and become bowl eligible. The program is in real need of playmakers.