The Buckeyes and Golden Hurricane programs may as well be in different oceans, both Tulsa and Ohio State enter this weekend in the same boat.
The Scarlet and Gray and the Golden Hurricane each lost their matchups last weekend: Ohio State to Oregon, 35-28 and Tulsa to Oklahoma State, 28-23.
But don't kid yourself. This Tulsa team can play. They finished last season undefeated in American Athletic Conference play and lost in the AAC title game to Cincinnati 27-24 on a last second field goal.
They also registered two wins over Top-25 teams last year (No. 11 UCF and No. 19 SMU), while dropping very close games against Oklahoma State and Cincinnati. They finished with their best record since 2016 with a 6-3 season (including six wins in a row).
In fact, the offense brings back quite a bit of experience this season - nine starters and 16 players who have started at least one career game are on this year's roster.
Tulsa’s football team is led by head coach Phillip Montgomery, who is in his seventh year with the program. Montgomery has earned a record of 31-42 over that time.
The Golden Hurricane may play in a smaller conference than the Big Ten, but their roster includes a number of very talented and accomplished players. Wide receiver and kick returner Keylon Stokes passed the 4,000 career all-purpose yards mark during Tulsa’s season opener against UC Davis.
Shamari Brooks is also a very good player, entering this weekend's game fifth on the school's all-time rushing list. He's racked up 2,700 yards and 23 TD's throughout his career, which has been somewhat abbreviated after missing last year with a torn ACL.
In their last game against the Cowboys, Tulsa actually outgained Oklahoma State (347 yards to 313) and the Cowboys also had the only turnover of the game. They also outgained UC Davis in Week 1.
Where did the Golden Hurricane fall short of pulling off an upset? They couldn't consistently convert their drives and yards into points. One indicator of this struggle -the first seven Tulsa drives ended in punts.
They've also found a good bit of trouble in the fourth quarter in each of their first two games this season. Tulsa has been outscored 27-9 in the final 15 minutes.
Fourth year junior quarterback Davis Brin was responsible for Tulsa’s first score, scrambling three yards for a touchdown that gave the Golden Hurricane a 14-7 lead in the third quarter.
Brin went 19-of-27 through the air, totaling 224 yards and no touchdowns. He has not yet thrown a TD this season, but has been picked off twice while completing 61.8 percent of his passes.
Deneric Prince leads the backfield with 30 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns so far this year.
Defensively against the Cowboys, the Golden Hurricane defense provided several instances of pressure from their front seven. That group includes Oklahoma-transfer linebacker Jon-Michael Terry. Tulsa also added Texas A&M grad transfer Travon Fuller at cornerback. Those two players have helped fill the void left by reigning College Football Defensive Player of the Year linebacker Zaven Collins. He was a unanimous first-team All-American, earning the Lombardi Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
Defensive tackle Jaxon Player has his name on eight tackles (2.5 for a loss) and two quarterback pressures in the first two games of this season.
Their weakness lies is in the back four though. Oklahoma State’s receivers frequently lost their Tulsa shadows by simply cutting sharply or hesitating and then bursting down the field. Tulsa's secondary has recorded one interception in two games and the defense in general has not recovered either of the two forced fumbles.
Ohio State will undoubtedly be Tulsa’s toughest opponent up to this point in their 125th season. The Golden Hurricane will have to give everything they have and more if they wish to extend the Buckeyes’ losing streak to two games straight.
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