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The Big Tulsa Golden Hurricane Preview

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It’s a winnable game, but can the Bulls win?

NCAA Football: South Florida at Brigham Young Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Tulsa Golden Hurricane

2021 Record: 2-4, 1-1 AAC

Head Coach: Diet Lemon Booty Philip Montgomery (33-44 in seven seasons)

Date/Time/Location: Saturday, October 16, 12 p.m., Raymond James Stadium (65,857), Tampa, FL

How To Watch/Listen: ESPNU, 1250AM, Bulls Unlimited

Series History: USF leads series 3-1. Last: Tulsa won 42-13 in Tampa in 2020

Fresh off their much needed bye week, the South Florida Bulls welcome in the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday inside Raymond James Stadium. After facing four top 25 teams in their first five games, the Bulls get a Tulsa team who’s been up-and-down to put it nicely during the 2021 season.

The Golden Hurricane opened the year by losing 19-17 to FCS Cal Davis, then played Oklahoma State close in a 28-23 loss. They followed that up with a closer than the score looked 41-20 loss at Ohio State. They then knocked off Arkansas State before getting blown out by Houston, but then bounced back with a 35-29 win over a (maybe worse than expected) Memphis team.

Tulsa is led by senior running back Shamari Brooks, who is making his way back into action after missing all of 2020 due to a torn ACL. Brooks rushed for 100 yards, and two touchdowns in his lone game against the Bulls in 2018. In 2021, he’s rushed for 416 yards and three scores, and has rushed for over 100 yards in two games already. Fellow running backs Anthony Watkins (282 yards, 8.3 YPC), and Deneric Prince (261 yards, 5.6 YPC) each have a game of over 100 yards rushing this year.

Quarterback Davis Brin has thrown for 1,649 yards, and completed 58% of his passes in 2021. He’s thrown eight touchdowns, and eight interceptions (we love symmetry!). In Tulsa’s three losses this year he’s just three touchdowns and a whopping seven interceptions. While the Golden Hurricane’s offensive line is experienced, they’ve allowed 14 sacks on the year.

Brin’s top targets are Josh Johnson (35 catches, 508 yards, 2 TD), Sam Crawford, Jr. (19 catches, 369 yards, 3 TD), and JuanCarlos Santana (19 catches, 282 yards, 1 TD). Those three combined for 10 catches, 147 yards, and a touchdown in last year’s meeting. Fellow wide out Keylon Stokes also chipped in with four catches and 66 yards.

The USF secondary was a MASH unit early this year, but should get back some valuable reinforcements this week with TJ Robinson, and Jalen Herring both expected to be back in action. The key for the Bulls to have success on Saturday is (once again) creating havoc up front, muddy the waters for Brin—who has shown he’s more than willing to give up the ball—, and bottle up the running back trio as much as possible. The Bulls registered seven TFLs at SMU two weeks ago against a much better offensive line, this USF defense should have more success against Tulsa.

Offensively for the Bulls, expect big plays from quarterback Timmy McClain. The Tulsa defense is not good, while the USF offense over the last few weeks has shown that they can move the ball fairly consistently.

The Tulsa defense is allowing opponents to convert on nearly 50% of their third/fourth down plays to extend drives. USF knows they need to keep the offense on the field as long as possible to have a chance to win. Then they have to cash in when they get inside the red zone. The Golden Hurricane defense have allowed 13 touchdowns in 19 possessions inside the 20, and another three possessions ended with successful field goal attempts.

Bottom line:

This game is winnable for the Bulls, but they must play a complete game to do so. Tulsa is the most penalized team in the nation, and they like to turn the ball over in games they lose. USF needs to capitalize on the opportunity. McClain needs to hit those deep shots more often, and Jaren Mangham needs to have a big day for the Bulls to win their first FBS game since October 2019.

USF 45, Tulsa 41