Saturday, September 21st at 1:30 PM (Mountain) on CBS Sports Network
Limited history for these teams, having met just five times. Wyoming is 2-3 against Tulsa. The teams last met in Tulsa in 1998. The teams actually played 3 times in the 1990’s. The home team won every time with Wyoming winning in Laramie in 94 and Tulsa winning in 95 and 98 at home.
On offense, Wyoming will continue to run the ball. Last season, Tulsa was not very good versus the run, finishing 118th in the nation in rushing defense. This season it’s hard to say if the Golden Hurricane have improved. Tulsa did a pretty god job against the run versus San Jose State and Michigan State. Last week, Oklahoma State killed Tulsa on the ground though. That might be attributable to Chuba Hubbard (who looks like a fantastic young back) as Hubbard ran for 256 yards and 3 TDs on his own. Overall, this will be a bit of an unknown matchup. Idaho did a much better job at stopping the Wyoming running game than I expected last week. How well Wyoming does running the ball against Tulsa (and if the passing game can step up and start making some plays to help out) will go a long ways in deciding this game.
On the defensive side, Wyoming will face a Tulsa team that has some balance. Shamari Brooks is a talented back who has gone over 100 yards in a back-to-back weeks (San Jose State followed by Oklahoma State). Zach Smith will be under center at QB. He is a transfer from Baylor and saw quite a bit of action in 2016 and 2017. Boise State fans will remember him from a strong Cactus Bowl performance in 2016 when Baylor beat them. Smith has not been asked to throw more than 30 passes in a game so far as Tulsa has run more than they’ve thrown. Still, Smith has played well so far. His primary receivers have been Keylon Stokes and Sam Crawford Jr. at wide out. For the Cowboys, they will need to stop Brooks and the Tulsa running game. From there, try to take away Stokes and Crawford Jr. in the passing game and force Smith to find other receivers.
The spread has Tulsa by 3.5. That makes sense to me as Tulsa probably should be favored at home. Tulsa has two losses, but they came against Michigan State and Oklahoma State. Tulsa has not turned the football over the last two weeks. Wyoming beat Missouri and Texas State in games where the Cowboys won the turnover battle. Idaho was a battle for Wyoming in a game without turnovers. Bottom line, Tulsa has the more balanced offense, and Tulsa has been protecting the football. For those reasons, I’ve got the home team winning a close one.
Wyoming 20, Tulsa 23