For all the BYU fans who are still angry, confused or happy about Jake Heaps’ decision to transfer, don’t forget he’s not the only football news in town.
The Cougars wrap up their 2011 season with a bowl game on Dec. 30 when BYU faces the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas.
“We get to play another game. With all the stuff swirled around BYU this year, with independence and other things, it’s just really nice to be able to keep on playing,” BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said in a teleconference. “We really relish that and are eager to get down there, strap it up and get another game in.”
Currently at 9-3, BYU looks to finish the year with a double-digit winning record. If the Cougars win the bowl game, coach Bronco Mendenhall will finish five of his seven years with 10 or more wins.
“What I’ve learned to continue to advance programs and continue to build reputation is not only participating in bowl games but it’s playing well and winning bowl games,” Mendenhall said in a teleconference. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic matchup with two hungry opponents, which I think will bid well for the bowl.”
Tulsa finished the regular season with an 8-4 record, very similar to BYU. Tulsa’s four losses came at the hands of teams then-ranked in the top 10 — but those losses come at an average of 27 points.
“They’re well coached on both sides,” Executive Director of the Armed Forces Bowl Brant Ringler said in a teleconference. “The teams are playing a high level right now, both averaging over 400 yards per game on offense. I think there’s going to be a lot of points put up on the scoreboard. I think it’s going to be an exciting brand of football for fans to watch and I expect a lot of highlights to come out of it.”
As noted by Ringler, Tulsa has an explosive offense. Led by senior quarterback G.J. Kinne, who has thrown for almost 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns this year, the Golden Hurricane average 34 points per game.
“Our quarterback G.J. Kinne, was the offensive MVP a year ago in the conference, is in his third year as a starter,” Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said in a teleconference. “He’s just been an all-everything guy for us. … [He’s an] outstanding passer, but he can move around the pocket. He’s allowed us to develop a bunch of other players.”
Kinne is also complimented by Tulsa’s productive running game.The Golden Hurricane are ranked in the top 25 in points scored per game and average rushing yards per game.
BYU and Tulsa faced one common opponent this year in the University of Central Florida. Notably, both teams won by a score of 24-17. BYU faced UCF during the fourth week of the season. Tulsa played UCF just four games ago.