Friday Football News and Notes

Friday Football News and Notes

Oklahoma at Tulsa

Series Record: Oklahoma leads 14-7-1.

Last Meeting: 2005, Oklahoma 31-15.

Last Meeting: 2005, Oklahoma 31-15.

The Sooners, first in scoring with 61.3 points per game, rank third nationally in total offense (565.3 yards). ... Oklahoma has won the last three meetings, and are 5-3 in Tulsa including a 37-0 victory in 2002. ... Sam Bradford, ranked third nationally, has completed 79.7 percent of his passes (59-for-74) for 823 yards, 11 TDs and 1 INT. ... Oklahoma is 9-8 in all games played on Friday, and 4-2 in Friday night games. ... Tulsa's last win against Oklahoma came in Norman in 1996, a 31-24 victory. ... Tulsa is off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 1998. ... Tulsa QB Paul Smith threw for a career-best 454 yards and a career-high five touchdowns against BYU last week. ... Paul Smith is fifth in passing efficiency (195.9) and points responsible for (24.0); and sixth in passing yards per game (380.5) and total offense (380).

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College Football Cinderella Watch
by T.O. Whenham
docsports.com

The Golden Hurricanes have had a very good start to the season under regime of new head coach Todd Graham. After an easier-than-expected win against UL Monroe, Tulsa came out on the right side of a crazy 55-47 shootout against BYU despite being 6.5 point underdogs. The team is talented and exciting to watch, and senior quarterback Paul Smith is again showing what anyone who has watched him for the last three years already knows - he's pretty good. Graham took over a team that was very well coach by Steve Kragthorpe, who is now in Louisville, and as a former defensive coordinator for the team before heading to Rice for a year, Graham was ready to hit the ground running. It's no surprise, then that this team looks pretty good. Despite all that, though, this team is doomed. All you have to do is look at the schedule. This coming weekend they travel to face in-state rival Oklahoma. Though anything is possible, and a win as 20-point underdogs against a team that looks as good as Oklahoma would be a huge boost for the cause of a team that has a very winnable schedule remaining after Saturday, the Sooners are not going to make the mistake of underestimating an opponent twice in nine months. Tulsa will make a good showing, and they may very well open some national eyes, but there will be, at most, two undefeated non-BCS teams by this time next week.

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(4) Oklahoma (3-0) at Tulsa (2-0)
The Sports Network

Friday, September 21st, 8:00 p.m. (et)

GAME NOTES: The fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners take to the road for the first time this season, as they invade Chapman Stadium this Friday to do battle with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in non-league play. The Sooners opened the season with three consecutive games at home and they won each in convincing fashion. OU has outscored its first three opponents by an impressive 158 points, marking its most dominant start to a season since 1972, when it outscored its foes by a 169-6 margin. Last weekend, the Sooners played host to Utah State and they had little trouble disposing of the Aggies in a 54-3 triumph. OU, which is off to its first 3-0 start since 2004, now hits the road, where it posted a 4-1 ledger a year ago. As for Tulsa, it enters the game undefeated as well, thanks to back-to-back victories over UL-Monroe (35-17) and most recently BYU (55-47). With the pair of victories, the Hurricane are off to their first 2-0 start since the 1998 season. Friday's game will mark the 23rd all-time meeting between OU and Tulsa, with the Sooners holding a 14-7-1 advantage in the series. The Sooners have won the last three encounters, including a 31-15 triumph in the most recent meeting in 2005 in Norman.

The Sooners have been a machine on the offensive side of the ball, averaging an eye-popping 61.3 ppg behind an impressive 565.3 total ypg. The offense has had success running the ball (241.3 ypg) as well as throwing it (324.0 ypg), and it has converted on 49.0 percent of its third down attempts. Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford has been simply outstanding in the early going, completing an efficient 79.7 percent of his tosses for 823 yards, with 11 touchdowns against just one interception. Last weekend, Bradford threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-26 passing, as OU rolled up 617 yards of total offense in a lopsided win over Utah State. His main target was Juaquin Iglesias, who pulled down eight balls for 123 yards. Malcolm Kelly also got involved, catching six passes for 81 yards and two scores. Both players have already racked up over 300 receiving yards on the season, and Kelly also ranks second in the nation with seven touchdown catches. As for the ground attack, it posted 343 yards against Utah State last weekend, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. Allen Patrick led the way with 113 yards and a score on eight carries, while DeMarco Murray rushed four times for 100 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown scamper (the third longest in school history). For the year, Murray leads the club with 251 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while Allen is next in line with 160 yards and a score in just two games.

Defensively, OU has been every bit as good as its offense, holding opponents to a minuscule 8.7 ppg and a mere 179.7 total ypg. The unit has yet to allow a rushing touchdown and is giving up just 44.3 ypg on the ground. Through the air, the Sooners are surrendering only 135.3 ypg and they have picked off five passes against just two passing touchdowns. Last weekend, OU forced four turnovers, in addition to limiting Utah State to only 153 yards of total offense. The defense allowed Utah State to convert on just 3-of-14 third downs, as it surrender a mere eight first downs overall. For the season, the Sooners are holding their foes to just a 17.0 percent conversion rate on third downs. Curtis Lofton led the charge for OU last weekend, recording 12 tackles and returning an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. It was yet another strong effort by Lofton, who leads the team with 28 stops on the year.

Paul Smith put forth the best performance of his four-year career at Tulsa last weekend, as he threw for a career-high 454 yards and five touchdowns in a wild 55-47 victory over BYU. Smith, who threw for 307 yards and three scores in the team's season-opening win over UL-Monroe, completed 21-of-35 pass attempts with just one interception last weekend. Trae Johnson pulled down five balls for 95 yards and a score in the win over BYU, while Brennan Marion added three catches for 171 yards and a touchdown. Charles Clay also had a big night, as he finished with 98 receiving yards, with all three of his catches resulting in a touchdown. Clay also led the squad with eight catches for 92 yards in the team's opener. After rushing for 129 yards and a score versus UL- Monroe, Tarrion Adams went for 79 yards and a touchdown on 18 totes last weekend. As a team, Tulsa has racked up 1,118 total yards in just two games and this is due in large part to the new wide open passing attack that has accounted for 797 of those yards.

While the offense was at its best for Tulsa last weekend, the same cannot be said about its defense, which yielded a whopping 694 total yards to BYU. The defense, which limited UL-Monroe to just 278 total yards, including only 66 through the air, was torched for 537 yards via the pass last weekend. The Hurricane however, did manage to make a few big plays on this side of the ball last weekend, as they recorded four turnovers to go along with three sacks. One of those turnovers resulted in a touchdown, as Roy Roberts returned an interception 49 yards for a score. Nelson Coleman also had a big game for Tulsa, recording a team-best 17 tackles.

OU has been simply dominant in the early going, but this will be its toughest opponent thus far. Tulsa has flourished with its spread attack and that passing game will surely be put to the test. The Sooners though, are just simply the better team on both sides of the ball and they should have no problems scoring points and slowing down the Hurricane enough to earn the victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 42, Tulsa 20

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Intrastate rivals meet in Tulsa
September 19th, 2007

Tulsa, OK (Sports Network) - The fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners take to the road for the first time this season, as they invade Chapman Stadium this Friday to do battle with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in non-league play.

The Sooners opened the season with three consecutive games at home and they won each in convincing fashion. OU has outscored its first three opponents by an impressive 158 points, marking its most dominant start to a season since 1972, when it outscored its foes by a 169-6 margin. Last weekend, the Sooners played host to Utah State and they had little trouble disposing of the Aggies in a 54-3 triumph. OU, which is off to its first 3-0 start since 2004, now hits the road, where it posted a 4-1 ledger a year ago.

As for Tulsa, it enters the game undefeated as well, thanks to back-to-back victories over UL-Monroe (35-17) and most recently BYU (55-47). With the pair of victories, the Hurricane are off to their first 2-0 start since the 1998 season.

Friday's game will mark the 23rd all-time meeting between OU and Tulsa, with the Sooners holding a 14-7-1 advantage in the series. The Sooners have won the last three encounters, including a 31-15 triumph in the most recent meeting in 2005 in Norman.

The Sooners have been a machine on the offensive side of the ball, averaging an eye-popping 61.3 ppg behind an impressive 565.3 total ypg. The offense has had success running the ball (241.3 ypg) as well as throwing it (324.0 ypg), and it has converted on 49.0 percent of its third down attempts. Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford has been simply outstanding in the early going, completing an efficient 79.7 percent of his tosses for 823 yards, with 11 touchdowns against just one interception. Last weekend, Bradford threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-26 passing, as OU rolled up 617 yards of total offense in a lopsided win over Utah State. His main target was Juaquin Iglesias, who pulled down eight balls for 123 yards. Malcolm Kelly also got involved, catching six passes for 81 yards and two scores. Both players have already racked up over 300 receiving yards on the season, and Kelly also ranks second in the nation with seven touchdown catches. As for the ground attack, it posted 343 yards against Utah State last weekend, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. Allen Patrick led the way with 113 yards and a score on eight carries, while DeMarco Murray rushed four times for 100 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown scamper (the third longest in school history). For the year, Murray leads the club with 251 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while Allen is next in line with 160 yards and a score in just two games.

Defensively, OU has been every bit as good as its offense, holding opponents to a minuscule 8.7 ppg and a mere 179.7 total ypg. The unit has yet to allow a rushing touchdown and is giving up just 44.3 ypg on the ground. Through the air, the Sooners are surrendering only 135.3 ypg and they have picked off five passes against just two passing touchdowns. Last weekend, OU forced four turnovers, in addition to limiting Utah State to only 153 yards of total offense. The defense allowed Utah State to convert on just 3-of-14 third downs, as it surrender a mere eight first downs overall. For the season, the Sooners are holding their foes to just a 17.0 percent conversion rate on third downs. Curtis Lofton led the charge for OU last weekend, recording 12 tackles and returning an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. It was yet another strong effort by Lofton, who leads the team with 28 stops on the year.

Paul Smith put forth the best performance of his four-year career at Tulsa last weekend, as he threw for a career-high 454 yards and five touchdowns in a wild 55-47 victory over BYU. Smith, who threw for 307 yards and three scores in the team's season-opening win over UL-Monroe, completed 21-of-35 pass attempts with just one interception last weekend. Trae Johnson pulled down five balls for 95 yards and a score in the win over BYU, while Brennan Marion added three catches for 171 yards and a touchdown. Charles Clay also had a big night, as he finished with 98 receiving yards, with all three of his catches resulting in a touchdown. Clay also led the squad with eight catches for 92 yards in the team's opener. After rushing for 129 yards and a score versus UL- Monroe, Tarrion Adams went for 79 yards and a touchdown on 18 totes last weekend. As a team, Tulsa has racked up 1,118 total yards in just two games and this is due in large part to the new wide open passing attack that has accounted for 797 of those yards.

While the offense was at its best for Tulsa last weekend, the same cannot be said about its defense, which yielded a whopping 694 total yards to BYU. The defense, which limited UL-Monroe to just 278 total yards, including only 66 through the air, was torched for 537 yards via the pass last weekend. The Hurricane however, did manage to make a few big plays on this side of the ball last weekend, as they recorded four turnovers to go along with three sacks. One of those turnovers resulted in a touchdown, as Roy Roberts returned an interception 49 yards for a score. Nelson Coleman also had a big game for Tulsa, recording a team-best 17 tackles.

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Tulsa embracing underdog role vs. Sooners
September 19, 2007

Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Tulsa comes into Friday's game against No. 4 Oklahoma a three touchdown underdog. And it seems that's just the way first-year coach Todd Graham likes it.

"Them being undefeated, and us being undefeated, and probably not many people giving us a chance," Graham said this week. "That's just where we want to be."

In fact, ask the coach if he has any big-game jitters and he'll confess that he was more nervous playing Louisiana-Monroe in last month's season opener.

"I'm supposed to win that one," he joked of the 35-17 victory.

Friday night, the Golden Hurricane (2-0) will try to defeat Oklahoma (3-0) for the first time since 1996.

Tulsa came close two years ago in Norman, sticking with the Sooners into the fourth quarter before losing 31-15. But Graham, then Tulsa's defensive coordinator, remembers players being surprised at how they were able to keep up with the Sooners for so long in that game.

"The biggest comment I had at halftime in 2005 was, 'man, we can play with these guys,"' Graham said.

For many Tulsa players, Friday's game is a chance to prove something.

"It's not hard for the kids on our roster who come from this state and from Texas, especially the Dallas area, to get excited and motivated to play OU," Graham said.

Defensive back Steve Craver played in the 2005 contest, racking up five tackles, two sacks and an interception. He said the 2007 rematch is a chance to "seize the moment."

"We're anxious to show people that we belong in the same category as the OUs and the OSUs and people that are real good in college football," Craver said. "I feel very confident in this weekend."

But how about the OU intimidation factor?

"You can't get scared of moments like this," said quarterback Paul Smith, who passed for a career-best 454 yards and five touchdowns last weekend against Brigham Young University. "There's a lot of people in the crowd or watching on TV that would love to be in your shoes, so why would you want to be in theirs when you got an opportunity like this?"

Tulsa's 55-47 win over BYU was a confidence-booster, but Graham was quick to point out what needed improvement. Despite the team's offensive fireworks, Tulsa almost squandered the game due to poor special teams coverage, giving up 27 points in the second quarter alone.

Graham said Friday's game will let Tulsa find out "exactly how good we are."

"By no means have we arrived or are we anywhere close to where we need to be," he said. "We're not dominating anybody that we've played so far.

"We're going to play a whole bunch of close football games this year, and for us to win them, we've got to continue to improve and get better," he said.

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Oklahoma at Tulsa
VegasInsider.com

When Oklahoma hired Bob Stoops after a disastrous 5-6 season in 1998, the hope was a return to the glory days of Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer. Nine years later, the OU faithful have their wish.

Under Stoops, the Sooners have won 10 or more games in six of the last seven seasons, 11 or more in five of those years. He has an incredible 89-19 record as head coach, leading them to four Big 12 titles and one national championship.
   
Florida has twice courted its former defensive coordinator, and the Gators have twice been rejected. NFL teams have made a number of inquiries, but Stoops remains in Norman.

On paper, it doesn't appear things could get much better for OU football. However, as the old adage goes, things aren't always what they seem.

You see, on the eve of the 2007 campaign, Oklahoma had as much to prove as any team in America.

That's what happens when you lose three bowl games in four seasons, including a 55-19 loss to USC in the 2004 national-title game. That's what happens when you lose to a mid-major school (Boise St.) in a BCS game. And that's what happens when you only win seven regular-season games two seasons ago.

But if there was any way possible for the Sooners to silence their doubters through three games, they have done so. They have outscored their first three opponents by a combined score of 184-26.

Without a doubt, OU is off to a blazing start. With that said, the hot start will be immediately forgotten if the Sooners can't take care of business in Friday's road game at Tulsa.

Most sports books are listing Oklahoma (3-0 straight up, 3-0 against the spread) as a 22-point favorite. Las Vegas Sports Consultants released the total at 59. Gamblers can collect a 10/1 payout (risk $100 to win $1,000) by backing the Golden Hurricane to win outright.

Tulsa (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) lost its head coach Steve Kragthorpe to Louisville during the off-season, but the Golden Hurricane haven't skipped a beat under Todd Graham, a former Kragthorpe assistant.

Graham left Tulsa after the 2005 campaign to take the head-coaching job at Rice. In one season, he led the Owls to their first bowl game in 45 years.

Although Graham's offensive coordinator at Rice (Major Applewhite) took the same position at Alabama rather than come to Tulsa, he was able to hire former Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

To date, the results have been splendid. Tulsa produced 595 yards of total offense in last week's 55-47 win over BYU as a seven-point home underdog. Senior quarterback Paul Smith threw for a career-high 454 yards and five touchdowns.

In just two games, Smith has completed 65.2 percent of his throws for 761 yards, posting an 8/2 touchdown-interception ratio. Tarrion Adams has paced the Golden Hurricane's ground attack, rushing 46 times for 208 yards and a pair of TDs. Adams is filling in for senior RB Courtney Tennial, who is "out" for the season with an ankle injury.

Let's get back to the Sooners, who have demolished North Texas (79-10), Miami (51-13) and Utah St. (54-3). Most importantly, they have found a QB of the present and future in Sam Bradford. The redshirt freshman has been nothing short of sensational, connecting on 79.7 percent of his pass attempts for 823 yards, with an 11/1 TD-INT ratio.

Junior WR Malcolm Kelly might be the nation's best at his position. Kelly has 14 receptions for 301 yards and seven TDs. Juaquin Iglesias has a team-high 19 catches for 302 yards.

With Adrian Peterson in the NFL, DeMarco Murray has become the featured back. The redshirt freshman, who owns 4.43 speed, has 36 carries for 251 yards and six TDs.

These teams last met in 2005 with OU capturing a 31-15 victory in Norman. However, Tulsa easily took the cash as a 30 1/2-point underdog. In fact, the Golden Hurricane had more first downs (21-14) and total yards (344-269) than the Sooners.

Since 2003, Tulsa has a 6-1 spread record as a home underdog. As for OU during Stoops' tenure, it has compiled a 10-14-2 ATS record as road favorites.

Kick-off is scheduled for Friday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. ESPN2 will provide the telecast.

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No. 4 Sooners, Tulsa bring top offenses into in-state clash
September 20, 2007

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -Oklahoma was instrumental in spreading the spread offense throughout Big 12 country.

Norman was the proving ground for the Air Raid scheme Mike Leach took to Texas Tech and turned into the nation's most prolific passing game.

Since then the Sooners have faced plenty of spread offenses, but none quite like what they'll see Friday night at Tulsa.

``It's different than anything we've seen,'' Sooners linebacker Ryan Reynolds said.

The in-state matchup will feature two of the nation's top four offenses, with Oklahoma (3-0) featuring a more conventional approach and Tulsa using the frenetic no-huddle scheme offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn never got to use in his days at Arkansas.

It's appropriate the scheme will get its first major test on a Friday - the night Malzahn perfected it while winning three Arkansas state high school titles.

``All of the motions they do, all the different alignments, everything they do is just a little bit different,'' Reynolds said. ``And then they do no-huddle, trying to get us tired and worn out.''

The Golden Hurricane (2-0) have averaged 559 yards - the fourth-highest mark in the nation - and last week gained 595 yards in a 55-47 shootout win against BYU. The problem has been a defense that's given up nearly as much - 486 total yards and 184.5 on the ground per game. A fourth-quarter stand and five takeaways allowed Tulsa to overcome 694 yards allowed in a 55-47 victory against BYU last week.

In the Sooners, Tulsa will face the nation's highest-scoring offense and one of three teams gaining more yards per game. Oklahoma also boasts the second-stingiest defense in the country.

The Sooners held North Texas' spread attack to 247 yards and Utah State's to 153 yards. Miami, which also frequently used shotgun sets with three or four wide receivers, had only 139 yards.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops was hesitant to lump all of those offenses into the same category as Big 12 foe Texas Tech, which led the nation in passing four of the past five years in the system Leach brought over from Oklahoma, where he was offensive coordinator.

``Each team has their differences and their little personalities and things that they like, and you've got to ... become familiar with them and be ready to defend them,'' Stoops said.

Tulsa has the most potent offense the Sooners have faced so far, but the Oklahoma defense figures to provide the biggest test of the season for the Golden Hurricane.

``Oklahoma is one of those five schools in the country that are extremely established. Very, very powerful, very big,'' Tulsa coach Todd Graham said. ``The defense is an OU defense: it's always one of the best in the country.''

Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith, who threw for a career-best 454 yards and five touchdowns last week, called the Sooners' secondary ``one of the best in the nation.''

``They're very versatile and they do a lot of things they try to disguise, and we've got our hands full,'' Smith said.

Graham said he sees two main differences between this Sooners' offense and the team that beat Tulsa 31-15 in Norman two years ago - a ``dramatic improvement'' at offensive line and wide receiver. He hasn't seen much drop-off at tailback despite an early exit to the NFL by Adrian Peterson, whose 41-yard run on fourth-and-1 put the Golden Hurricane away after they'd manage to stay within 17-15 until the final 3 1/2 minutes.

``We've got to get ready for another dogfight,'' Graham said.

Meanwhile, the Sooners are trying to keep from salivating about facing a Tulsa defense that seemed so porous a week earlier.

``It's all about matchups,'' Oklahoma tailback Chris Brown said. ``They could have been playing mediocre against those guys and then we look at that like `OK, well if BYU got 600 yards, we're going to get 800 yards,' and it'll be a totally different story.

``We've got to focus on us and not worry about what other teams have done against them.''

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