September 1, 2012; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back James White (8) celebrates in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in the fourth quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State 38 Tulsa 23. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane football: Game preview and prediction


It’s the rubber match between Iowa State (0-2) and Tulsa (1-2) as they meet for the third time in a little over a year. This time, the match takes place in a third different venue, and a place where the Cyclones have been successful in the past.

Alright, so since that victory was back in 1961, it really doesn’t matter. But at least the Cyclones have a winning edge over them, and will need to do what they did last year in Ames to win.

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium | Tulsa, OK
KICKOFF – 6:30 PM CT | TV – FOX Sports 1

Both teams have suffered a rough start to the season. The Golden Hurricane came in as heavy favorites to win Conference USA while most expected the Cyclones to knock off their in-state opponents.

Instead, they’ll have an important battle to try and resurrect their seasons before entering conference play.

Offensively for Iowa State, it all comes down to how healthy quarterback Sam Richardson is and how the offensive line has improved in the last 12 days. If any sort of a running game can get established, then that will take more pressure off of Richardson who’s recovering from ankle and groin injuries.

Defensively, it helps that Tulsa’s been a disappointment. The lone worry will be running back Trey Watts, who’s caught the ball more than any Golden Hurricane receiver and picked up over 100 yards on the ground in both games against the Cyclones last year.

When I say lone worry, it’s as good as saying it IS a worry. UNI’s David Johnson and Iowa’s Mark Weisman were the other worries this season.

At least Iowa State has an advantage in special teams. If nothing gets going on the ground, perhaps they can win field position and force Tulsa to turn the ball over. The Golden Hurricane have fumbled it six times already and lost four of them.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who’s under center for Iowa State. If Richardson isn’t healthy enough to continue playing or even start, put Grant Rohach in. Either way, if the Cyclones running backs can’t establish the run, they aren’t winning this game.

Prediction

Even on the road, this is probably as easy as it gets for ISU. The atmosphere won’t be hard to play in with a stadium capacity of 30,000. Along with center Tom Farniok back in the offensive line, this should be the time where the offensive line shows enough improvement for the Cyclones to pick up over 100 yards on the ground as a team.

Last year, the team picked up 160 yards in the season opener against them. Liberty Bowl? 98 yards.

If the pistol offense is executed how the coaches want it, that should open up the passing game. Expect Quenton Bundrage to impress like he did against Iowa. He has so much potential to be a leader on the offense.

It all comes down to this. Either ISU’s season can be placed on recovery mode as they work at getting in bowl contention, or this team starts figuring out what went wrong and makes some changes for the future. With probably the easiest matchup on the schedule, I believe it’s the former.

ISU 30, TULSA 28 (Odds: ISU +2.5, O56)

Tags: Football Iowa State Cyclones Sam Richardson Trey Watts Tulsa Golden Hurricane