The Tulsa Golden Hurricane of Conference USA will meet the BYU Cougars, competing as an independent in 2011, in the 2011 Armed Forces Bowl on December 30 in Ft. Worth, Texas.
The game returns to Amon G. Carter Stadium on the campus of TCU after being moved to SMU's Gerald R. Ford Stadium due to renovations and expansion.
Tulsa (8-4) will be competing in the postseason for the second straight year after posting a 62-35 win at Hawai’i in the 2010 Hawai’i Bowl.
The BYU-Tulsa matchup will be the eighth time the two teams have faced each other with the Cougars holding a 6-1 edge. The lone Golden Hurricane win in the series was in the last meeting with Tulsa defeating visiting BYU 55-47 on September 15, 2007. In the seven games, the two schools have combined to average 73.3 points a contest.
Tulsa finished the 2011 regular season by winning seven of their last eight games, losing only to Houston in the regular season finale that determined the CUSA West division champion. BYU comes in as a winner in eight of their last nine games, falling only to TCU 38-28 in Arlington.
Tulsa was 7-1 in Conference USA's West Division where it finished second to undefeated Houston. All four of the Golden Hurricane setbacks in 2011 were to schools ranked among the top 10 teams in the final BCS Standings (No. 3 Oklahoma State; No. 19 Houston; No. 7 Boise State; and No. 14 Oklahoma.
"We are tremendously excited to be a part of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. It is a first-class bowl against a very good opponent with a storied tradition. Anytime you have the opportunity to participate in an event that honors and represents the United States Armed Forces, it just makes it that much more meaningful," said Tulsa interim athletics director, Ross Parmley.
The Golden Hurricane will be making their second appearance in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl as Tulsa dropped a 25-13 decision to Utah in the 2006 game. In their next three bowl appearances, the Golden Hurricane posted postseason wins at the GMAC (2008 and 2009) and Hawai’i (2010) bowls.
"We are very excited to host Tulsa for the second time," said the bowl’s executive director, Brant Ringler. "Coach Bill Blankenship’s team features an exciting brand of football and the 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl should be high-scoring, featuring two of the nation’s top offenses."
Blankenship, a 1979 Tulsa graduate, is in his first season as the Golden Hurricane head coach. He is the seventh head coach in Tulsa history to win eight or more games in his first season. Blankenship was promoted as Tulsa’s 28th head football coach on January 14, 2011 after spending the previous four years as a Golden Hurricane assistant coach.
Both Tulsa (454.4) and BYU (410.8) are averaging over 400 total yards per game with the Golden Hurricane averaging 34.1 points a game and BYU scoring 30.6 points per contest. Two of three BYU defeats this season have been to BCS ranked teams - No. 18 TCU and No. 24 Texas 22nd - by a total of 11 points.
Tulsa’s offense is led by senior quarterback G. J. Kinne, who has passed for 9,258 yards in his career with 78 scoring tosses while rushing for 1,365 yards and 15 touchdowns. As a team in 2011, the Golden Hurricane has rushed for 204.6 yards per game while adding 249.8 yards per game through the air as Kinne has passed for 25 touchdowns this season.
Sophomore running back Ja’Terian Douglas, who rushed for 173 yards and two scores in the Golden Hurricane’s 59-33 setback to Oklahoma State, is Tulsa’s top rusher with 73.7 yards per game with four touchdowns. Junior running back Willie Carter and junior wide receiver Bryan Burnham are Tulsa’s top pass catchers with 61 and 50 receptions, respectively, with 15 combined scoring catches.
Defensively, the Golden Hurricane are allowing 420.7 total yards and 27.6 points per game. Curnelius Arnick leads the Tulsa defense as the senior linebacker has 142 total tackles to rank seventh nationally.
UCF of Conference USA was the one common opponent on both Tulsa and BYU’s 2011 schedule with the Golden Hurricane and Cougars both defeating the Knights 24-17. BYU’s UCF game was September 23 in Provo to give the Cougars a 43-12-1 all-time record against current C-USA schools. Tulsa’s victory over the Knights was November 3 in Orlando, Fla.
BYU (9-3) was the first team to receive a bowl invitation as it was contractually an automatic selection if it became bowl eligible. The Cougars did so on October 22nd when they defeated Idaho State 56-3 in Provo. They received their official bid on November 19, just hours before crushing New Mexico State 42-7.
BYU will be playing in its second Texas bowl game after the Cougars won the 1997 Cotton Bowl by defeating Kansas State 19-15 to finish with a No. 5 national ranking. One of college football’s top programs with over 500 wins and 29 bowl appearances, the Cougars are coached by Bronco Mendenhall. Mendenhall, who has a 65-24 record to date in six-plus seasons at BYU, has now led the Cougars to seven-straight bowl appearances as the school has won four of its previous six postseason appearances.
BYU has five Texans on its 2011 roster, including redshirt freshman wide receiver Ross Apo (Arlington Oakridge School), senior wide receiver McKay Jacobson (Southlake Carroll), junior linebacker Brandon Ogletree (McKinney), redshirt sophomore lineman Manaaki Vaitai (Euless Trinity) and redshirt freshman lineman Michael Yeck (Keller).
Apo (34 catches for 453 yards and 9 touchdowns) and Jacobson (23, 279, 1) are second and fourth, respectively, in receiving yards for the Cougars. Ogletree is tops in toal tackles with 67, including 34 solo stops. He has 3.5 tackles for losses with one fumble recovery, one pass interception and two forces fumbles. Yeck is a backup at left offensive tackle.
Led by 1990 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer of San Antonio, BYU boasts 11 consensus and 31 Academic All-Americans. BYU, which was crowned the 1984 national champions after a perfect 13-0 season, has also had seven Sammy Baugh, three Davey O’Brien, two Outland and one Doak Walker Trophy winners.
Legendary LaVell Edwards (2004), a two-time national coach of the year honoree, headlines BYU College Football Hall of Fame inductees. Other Cougars in the hall of fame include quarterbacks Gifford Nielsen (1994), Marc Wilson (1996), Jim McMahon (1998), Steve Young (2005) and Gordon Hudson (2009).
As the official bowl game that honors all branches of the United States armed forces, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will air at 12 noon EST on ESPN and ESPN Radio.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com project Tulsa to win by 2.81 points.