"New name, same game. The bowl formerly known as the Forth Worth Bowl has taken on a new name for 2006, as Tulsa (8-4) and Utah (7-5) will meet in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 23rd.
It may not be as festive as the Fiesta Bowl was for Utah two seasons ago when they defeated Pittsburgh 35-7, but the Utes will take it. It's the fourth straight bowl appearance for them (school record) and they will be vying for their sixth straight bowl win, which is tough for any school to accomplish.
Both teams are coming into the game after disappointing finishes to their respective regular seasons. Utah was leading ranked BYU 24-14 when they fell apart, eventually falling 33-31 at home. Meanwhile, Tulsa has lost three of its last four after reaching No. 25 in the BCS Standings in the middle of the season. A 34-3 win over Tulane secured the Golden Hurricane's second straight
bowl appearance - only the second time in school history they have accomplished that.
Utah's senior QB Brett Ratliff is the engine that keeps the offense going. Ratliff has tossed 22 touchdowns this season, and is averaging over 213 yards per game through the air. Derrek Richards has been Ratliff's favorite target, making 53 catches and reeling in six touchdowns. Starting running back Darryl Potson has struggled at times, especially in the team's last outing
against BYU where he ran for just 15 yards on six carries. Potson still leads the team with 546 rushing yards.
Tulsa players and fans have to be ecstatic that head coach Dave Kragthorpe decided not to jump to a BCS school that had a job opening at year's end. Kragthorpe is committed to continuing the turnaround in Tulsa, and so far he's done a heck of a job. The last time the Golden Hurricane were in back-to-back bowls was in 1964 and 1965.
Tulsa running back Courtney Tennial who has had a touchdown in eight straight games, and leads the team with 792 yards on the ground.
Junior QB Paul Smith has led Tulsa this season on offense, and things are setting up just the way he wants to see them against Utah. The Utes give up 327.8 yards per game including 220.5 through the air, so it could be a big night for Smith. Smith has averaged 214.1 yards per game passing, while completing just about 66-percent of his throws.
However, Utah leads the bowl subdivision in interceptions returned for touchdowns with 5 and has picked off 16 passes total to tie for 17th nationally.
This has the makings of a high scoring battle, as Tulsa averages just under 400 yards per game on offense. It is also likely to be quite the aerial attack with a couple of pretty good quarterbacks going at it. Keep in mind, Ratliff had the best game of his career in last year's Emerald Bowl for Utah.
Douglas Kroll is an independent contributor to College Football Poll.com.