PREVIEW: Tigers vs. Tulsa



Saturday, Liberty Bowl, 6 p.m.

• The Golden Hurricane enters Saturday’s game with a record of 2-2, coming off a 41-14 drubbing of Central Arkansas last weekend. Tulsa lost a shootout with East Carolina to open its season on September 5th, falling 51-49 when the Pirates scored as time expired on a desperation heave. Tulsa’s other loss was a blowout, 65-28, at the hands of Oklahoma State. They have yet to win a road game this season.

• Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne is averaging more than 300 yards passing per game, with 1,206 for the season. He’s completed 63 percent of his passes and thrown for 11 touchdowns, with six interceptions. Alex Singleton leads the Golden Hurricane with 202 rushing yards, but three teammates — Damaris Johnson, Trey Watts, and Ja’Terian Douglas — have each gained more than 100 yards. Johnson is second in C-USA in all-purpose yards, averaging 164.2 per game.


• Despite being one of the smallest schools in Conference USA (enrollment: 4,200), Tulsa has played in three of the five C-USA championship games. They beat UCF in 2005, lost to the Knights in 2007, then lost to East Carolina in 2008. Coach Todd Graham is in his fourth year with Tulsa, having compiled a record of 28-16.

• The Tigers and Golden Hurricane first met on the gridiron in 1961 (a 48-12 Memphis win), and the U of M owns a 14-9 edge in the series. Tulsa has won the last three meetings, including overtime thrillers in 2005 and 2009 (both played at Tulsa). The last time they met at the Liberty Bowl, in 2006, the Golden Hurricane won, 35-14. Overall at the Liberty Bowl, Memphis has won six of nine games in the series.

• Tulsa entered the season ranked fourth among C-USA teams by, behind Houston, UCF, and Southern Miss.

• The Tiger defense has made steady progress over the season’s first four games, allowing fewer yards each outing: 569, 425, 315, 288. They held UTEP’s talented quarterback, Trevor Vittatoe, to 171 yards passing while picking up three sacks against the Miners.

• Through four games, Greg Ray and Jerrell Rhodes are tied for the Memphis rushing lead with 221 yards each. Curtis Johnson has hauled in the most passes (14) and is one of four Tiger receivers with more than 100 yards through the air (also Jermaine McKenzie, Tanner Rehrer, and Marcus Rucker).

• Tulsa leads C-USA in total offense (523 yards per game), while Memphis ranks 11th (306). The Golden Hurricane is 11th in total defense (470) while the Tigers are seventh (399). Tulsa has gained the most first downs in the league (110), while Memphis is 10th in the category with 65.

• The Tigers rank third in C-USA in average time of possession (32:04 per game).

• Senior linebacker Jamon Hughes continues to pace the defense, with a total of 46 tackles (19 solo) through four games. Senior safety Marcus Ball also has 19 solo stops. Frank Trotter has five tackles for loss and Dasmine Cathey four.

• From the good news/bad news department: The Tigers have scored on every drive they’ve made into the red zone. But they’ve only had eight such drives, the fewest in C-USA.

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