Ricky Bobby used to go by the motto “If you ain’t first, you’re last” and that might sum up the situation facing the Tulsa Golden Hurricane ahead of the 2011 College Football season.
The schedule The road to the BCS is never easy but it’s going to be especially tough for Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane open the year with a game at Oklahoma. After that test with the highly-rated Sooners, Tulsa still has the prospect of Oklahoma State paying a visit and a road date with Boise State. The only rest in this brutal start is a home date with Tulane the week after that trip to Norman.
That’s before we get to a meaty Conference USA schedule. A home date with the SMU Mustangs on October 29 is followed up with a huge road game at defending conference champions UCF. The regular season ends with a home game against Houston on November 26 before a potential title game re-match with the Knights.
The players Experience and lots of it is the story of this Tulsa team. A total of 19 starters return, including four All-Conference USA selections. The offense is led by one of these, quarterback G.J. Kinne. His targets include the dangerous and versatile Damaris Johnson, who has a big role in the return game in addition to starting at wide receiver.
For all their offensive explosiveness, the Golden Hurricane had just the #85 defense in the nation last season. That puts a lot of pressure on the veteran-led unit to step up in 2011. Defensive back Marco Nelson, an all-conference selection in 2010, is the one to watch here. Having racked up gaudy numbers on offense last year, Tulsa are just a Nelson-inspired improvement away from entering the national discussion.
The forecast I picked Stanford in this slot last year and they ended up winning the Orange Bowl but it will take some epic displays for Tulsa to match them. College Football betting fans know that’s just no getting past that trip to Norman. For all the Golden Hurricane’s depth and talent, they simply don’t have enough to battle for a BCS bid. That being said, a double-digit win total and a ranked finish is well within their reach. Winning one of their games with Boise State and Oklahoma State is certainly possible and they could end the year with two wins over a talented UCF team. I like the Golden Hurricane to win Conference USA and finish 10-3 ahead of bowl play.