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2008 GMAC Bowl Preview
by Jordan Adams

Bowling Green (8-4) vs. Tulsa (9-4)

Conference matchup: MAC vs. C-USA
Date: Jan. 6, 2008
Location: Mobile, Alabama
Spread: Tulsa -4.5

Another game, another 60+ point outcome from the combined offenses. These two teams come in with a lot of similarities, notably their ability to each spread the field and throw the ball. No one in the country is more effective at racking up yards like the Golden Hurricane. Led by senior arm Paul Smith (4,753 yards, 42 touchdowns), Tulsa is tops in the nation with nearly 560 total yards and 391 of them coming through the air. The Falcons come in ranked 18th in the passing game with 301 yards per game, and the two combined to average over 70 points per game. Can anyone spell D-E-F-E-N-S-E?

Bowling Green can cover if: they can cash in on long-timed drives. It's going to be hard enough to go right up against this Tulsa offense and come out with more points, but with the way the Golden Hurricane plays defense, anything is possible. Bowling Green will have all day to move the ball, as Tulsa's defensive unit ranks 11th worst in all the country, giving up 469 yards per game. But for some reason that seems to only help their offense, as the defense is off the field so quickly and then Tulsa's offense is right back to attacking down the field. Go figure. The Falcons lack a major running game, so the majority of their yards will need to be through the passing game. Don't give this bad defense any reason to feel good about itself. If Bowling Green turns it over, this game will be ugly.

Tulsa can cover if: they spread the field on offense and throw the ball 50 or more times. Tulsa hasn't been stopped this season; they have only been slowed by silly mistakes from signal caller Paul Smith. While Smith turned in by far his best season in his senior campaign, his 19 interceptions proved to be costly at times. If he is strong with the ball and maintains possession on his team's side, he will be able to shred the Falcons defense and score basically every time he touches the ball. It's that simple. The Golden Hurricane also have 1,000-yard tailback Tarrion Adams, and that makes their offense more capable with the depth and balance.

General notes: Both quarterbacks have combined for over 7,800 passing yards and 65 touchdowns, so with the college clock rules, you might want to set aside four plus hours for this ball game. Bowling Green is familiar with the GMAC Bowl, having won it in 2004, defeating Memphis, 52-35. However, the past two years the Falcons failed to get to a bowl, so this time around they will be excited for postseason play. For Tulsa, this will be its third straight bowl appearance and its fourth in five seasons. In 2003, Tulsa lost to Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl. In 2005 the Golden Hurricane rebounded to knock off Fresno State in the Liberty Bowl and last season they again were on the short side to Utah in the Armed Forces Bowl. Only once have Bowling Green and Tulsa met, with the Golden Hurricane coming out on top in 1989, 45-10.

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GMAC Bowl: Bowling Green Falcons vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

- Tulsa lost the Conference USA title to Central Florida, but is determined to end its 9-4 season on a high note at Ladd Peebles Stadium in the GMAC Bowl. They face Bowling Green, which won four straight (4-0 ATS) to end the year.

Bowling Green forced four Toledo turnovers in a 37-10 win last time out, covering the 7-point home spread. The 47 points scored were UNDER the posted total of 72.5.

Tyler Sheenan was 20-for-34 for 225 yards and three touchdowns, and Anthony Turner ran 19 times for 96 yards and a major for the Falcons.

Tulsa had three turnovers in a 44-25 loss at UCF last time out, falling as 8-point road underdogs in the C-USA title game. The 69 points scored were UNDER the posted total of 73.5.

Paul Smith was 28-for-55 for 426 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, and Charles Clay caught six passes for 112 yards and a major for the Golden Hurricane.

Team records:
Bowling Green: 8-4 SU, 7-4 ATS
Tulsa: 9-4 SU, 4-9 ATS

Bowling Green most recently:
When playing on turf are 5-5
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing outside the conference are 4-6
After playing Toledo are 3-4

Tulsa most recently:
When playing in January are 0-1
When playing on turf are 8-2
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing outside the conference are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
Bowling Green is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Bowling Green is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Tulsa is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 16 of Tulsa's last 24 games
Tulsa is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 games

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Game Preview for Bowling Green vs Tulsa

GAME NOTES: The Bowling Green Falcons will try to continue their postseason success when they take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the GMAC Bowl this Sunday night at the Ladd-Peebles Stadium. This is the first bowl appearance for the Falcons since the 2004 season, but the last four postseason matchups have resulted in a win for BGSU, and that includes a 52-34 victory over Memphis in the GMAC Bowl back in December of 2004. The Falcons soared out of the gates in 2007, winning three of their first four games, with the lone loss coming on the road against Michigan State. However, the quick start diminished, as the Falcons stumbled with losses in three of their next four matchups. At 4-4, Bowling Green regrouped and closed out its regular season with four consecutive wins, defeating Akron, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo and Toledo. The Golden Hurricane will be making their third consecutive bowl appearance, and fourth in the last five years. However, the team has not had much success on the big stage, losing five of their last seven bowl matchups, including a 25-13 setback to Utah in the Armed Forces Bowl last season. This year the Golden Hurricane stormed into the season with three wins in their first four games. The lone setback came against a very tough Oklahoma squad. After losing two of their next three contests, the Golden Hurricane closed out its regular season schedule with five consecutive wins, three of which came on the road. With the 9-3 finish in the regular season, Tulsa advanced to the Conference-USA title game where the team battle UCF. However, for the second time this year the Golden Hurricane were embarrassed by the Golden Knights, falling to UCF, 44-25. These two schools have collided just once on the football field. The meeting took place back during the 1989 season and the Hurricane pounded BGSU, 45-10.

The Falcons' success offensively this season came mainly from the passing attack. Bowling Green is currently averaging a strong 286.8 ypg through the air, and out of the 45 touchdowns scored by this offense, 29 have come via the pass. Quarterback Tyler Sheehan has been very consistent for the Falcons for most of the season, and has completed an impressive 63.2 percent of his throws. In 12 games, the signal caller has thrown for 3,123 yards and 23 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Sheehan's main target has been Freddie Barnes, who led the team with 77 receptions, 891 yards and nine touchdowns. The ground game has not nearly had the same success, as the Falcons are churning out a mediocre 130.1 ypg. Throughout the season, the Falcons have not had a main running back, and the team's best option, Anthony Turner has rushed for just 501 yards and nine scores.

There is one glaring issue for Bowling Green defensively, and that is its inability to stop the run. Throughout the season teams have pulverized the Falcons on the ground, rushing for 205.3 ypg. Bowling Green has also had some minor problems against the pass, as the unit is surrendering 207.7 ypg through the air. Whether through the air, or on the ground, the opposition has found the end zone against BGSU, scoring 22 rushing TDs, while posting 21 scores with the pass. Bowling Green has been able to force 26 turnovers on the year, but the unit has struggled putting pressure on the QB, collecting just 23 sacks. Erique Dozier has been outstanding on the season for BGSU, and is leading the team with 101 tackles and eight TFLs. Doing the most damage on the front line has been Diyral Briggs, who has collected seven TFLs and a team- best five sacks.

The Golden Hurricane bring the third best passing attack in the nation to the table this Sunday evening. Tulsa is currently producing a whopping 374.6 ypg through the air and that has helped the team rack up an impressive 39.5 ppg. Tulsa has scored a mind-boggling 68 touchdowns on the season, and 43 of those scores have come via the pass. Quarterback Paul Smith finished second in the regular season with 4,753 passing yards and 42 touchdowns. The signal-caller completed 60.1 percent of his passes, but tossed 19 interceptions in 499 passing attempts. Tulsa has a bevy of options at the receiver spot, beginning with Trae Johnson who hauled in 67 passes for 1,0389 yards and 11 scores on the year. Charles Clay has also played a pivotal role throughout the year, grabbing 58 passes for 955 yards and six scores. However, the biggest threat could be Brennan Marion. Marion is a game changing receiver, who is averaging a nation's best 31.9 yards per catch. Marion finished the regular season with just 39 receptions, but for a whopping 1,244 yards and 11 TDs. With all the success of the passing attack, opponents tend to overlook a dangerous ground game which has averaged 167.9 ypg. Tarrion Adams is the main back for Tulsa, as the tailback has rushed for 1,113 yards and seven scores on 5.5 ypg. Smith is also dangerous near the goal line, and has scored 12 rushing TDs on the year as well.

The Golden Hurricane need all 68 touchdowns offensively just to make up for the poor play of the team's defensive unit. Tulsa has been abused by the run and the pass on the season, as team's are pounding Tulsa for 195.9 ypg on the ground, while also torching the Golden Hurricane with 273.1 ypg through the air. Tulsa has surrendered a whopping 56 touchdowns, splitting right down the middle with 28 coming on the ground and 28 coming via the pass. Tulsa has also struggled to make big plays this season, recording just 20 turnovers, while collecting only 25 sacks. The team has also played horrible inside its own 20- yard line, allowing opponents to convert on 84 percent of their red zone chances. Chris Chamberlain has been a machine for Tulsa, racking up a whopping 148 tackles. Nelson Coleman has also done well, recording 137 stops and eight TFLs.

Bowling Green will definitely find the end zone in this matchup, but the Golden Hurricane have far too many scoring options for BGSU to stop. Expect a high scoring game with Tulsa closing out the matchup on top.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulsa 45, Bowling Green 31

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TULSA vs. BOWLING GREEN (GMAC)...Tulsa covered only 2 of last 11 in ‘07. Golden Hurricane 1-5 last 6 away from home and 1-6 last 7 as chalk. BGSU, however, covered last 4 TY and 5 of 7 away from home. Tech edge-slight to BGSU, based on recent trends,

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GMAC BOWL (at Mobile, Ala.)

Bowling Green (8-4, 7-4 ATS) vs. Tulsa (9-4, 4-9 ATS)

The Falcons, who secured a bowl bid with a strong late-season kick in the Mid-American Conference, head to the GMAC Bowl for the second time in four years when they meet Conference USA’s Tulsa at Ladd Peebles Stadium.

Bowling Green ripped Toledo 37-10 in its regular-season finale on Nov. 23, covering as a 6½-point home chalk to cap a 4-0 SU and ATS finish, with three of those wins coming by double digits. Against Toledo, the Falcons won the yardage battle 443-322, forced four turnovers and held the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer than the Rockets.

Tulsa comes in off a 44-25 blowout loss to Central Florida in the Conference USA championship game on Dec. 1, failing to cover as a 7½-point underdog. That snapped a 5-0 SU run (2-3 ATS) for the Golden Hurricane, who gave up 284 rushing yards to UCF’s Kevin Smith and whose only second-half points came on a safety.

The Falcons, who come into this contest off a 44-day layoff, are making their first bowl appearance since the 2004 GMAC Bowl (a 52-35 win over Memphis as a three-point chalk). They’re playing in just the seventh bowl in school history, including their third under coach Gregg Brandon, going 2-0 in the previous two (1-1 ATS).

The Golden Hurricane are making their third straight bowl appearance and their fourth in five years (1-2 SU and ATS). They lost to Utah 25-13 as a 2½-point pup in last season’s Armed Forces Bowl.

Bowling Green closed the regular season on a 5-1 SU and ATS tear and went 5-2 ATS on the highway this season, including a 32-31 upset at Minnesota as a 14-point underdog. The Falcons are on further positive ATS runs of 4-1 as a ‘dog and 15-7 in non-conference action.

Tulsa failed to cover in its last three this season and is on a 2-9 ATS freefall since beating Brigham Young 55-47 in Week 2 as a 6½-point home ‘dog. Additionally, the Golden Hurricane are mired in ATS funks of 1-5 on road trips, 1-6 laying points, 1-5 following a SU loss and 1-6 against winning teams. One positive note is Tulsa’s 6-2 SU mark (3-1 ATS in lined games) against current MAC squads.

Bowling Green averaged 32.1 points and 416.9 yards on offense this season, with the nation’s 20th-best passing attack (286.8 ypg). QB Tyler Sheehan passed for 3,123 yards (63.2 completion percentage) and 23 TDs, with 11 INTs. Defensively, the Falcons were poor, allowing 29.5 points and 413 yards per outing (207.7 passing, 205.3 rushing).

Tulsa led the nation in total offense (542.5 ypg), ranked third in passing (374.6 ypg) and ninth in scoring (39.5 ppg). QB Paul Smith completed 60 percent of his passes for a whopping 4,753 yards, 42 TDs and 19 INTs. In addition, he had 12 rushing TDs. On the flip side, the Golden Hurricane’s defense was among the nation’s worst, allowing 469 total ypg (111th), 273.1 passing ypg (109th) and 35.4 ppg (106th).

For Bowling Green, the over is 8-3 against teams with a winning record and 9-4 in its last 13 non-conference outings. But the under is 9-4 in the Falcons last 13 games on grass. For Tulsa, the under is on runs of 4-0 on grass and 8-2 against teams with a winning record.


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Wuerffel winner Smith leads by example for Tulsa's top-ranked offense
January 5, 2008

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -Tulsa coach Todd Graham learned the full impact of quarterback Paul Smith on his program when he was on a recruiting trip in southern Oklahoma and heard a prospect bragging.

Not about Smith's record-setting numbers as the school's leading passer. Not about the way he directed Tulsa's confusing spread attack that led the nation in total offense.

``I've seen your quarterback,'' the player told Graham. ``He was basically preaching down here and doing praise music.''

That's the hidden aspect to the triple threat Smith has brought the Golden Hurricane in a remarkable career: a strong arm, good enough wheels and a big heart.

``Just the impact that had on him and just how impressed he was with that, just how he represents our university has been remarkable,'' Graham said.

``And then you combine all the intangibles he has - the character, the discipline, his faith - you combine that with the fact that he is a phenomenal football player.''

The combination won Smith the Wuerffel Award, which honors one college football player each year for community service work in addition to great performances in the classroom and on the field.

Smith, who graduated last month with a 3.84 grade-point average, makes frequent speaking engagements as president of the campus Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and also has mixed in visits to soup kitchens and other service work along with passing for a school-record 4,753 yards this season.

On Sunday, he'll lead Tulsa (9-4) against Bowling Green (8-4) in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala. It's the first time the Golden Hurricane have played in bowl games in three straight seasons since a run from 1942-46 that included two Sugar Bowls and one Orange Bowl.

``It's kind of surreal to think I've been a part of that,'' said Smith, Tulsa's career passing leader with 10,624 yards. ``I've told people hopefully I can think back and it was no big deal because the tradition will continue. I don't want to come back and be the guy that led them to three bowl games and that's all they had done. I want to come back and people don't think it's any big deal because they're used to doing it.

``That's the most exciting thing is just to get the tradition back to where it used to be.''

Smith did it without much proven talent around him. Entering the season, Tulsa had lost four of its five starting offensive linemen and every wide receiver that had 100 yards receiving last season. And then, leading rusher Courtney Tennial suffered an ankle injury in practice and missed the entire season.

Enter Gus Malzahn. The offensive coordinator who never got to implement his no-huddle, motion-heavy spread at Arkansas, brought it to Tulsa this season and has the Golden Hurricane within striking distance of becoming the first major college team with a 5,000-yard passer, three 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher.

The offense is averaging 39.5 points and an unmatched 542.5 yards.

``He's the guy that's made it work. We get a lot of credit for having the No. 1 offense in the country,'' Graham said. ``In my opinion, we've got the No. 1 quarterback in the country.''

The 6-foot-2 coach's son set Oklahoma's high school passing record but never got a serious look by either of the state's two biggest schools. So, it's hardly surprising that he isn't a household name.

But Graham and Malzahn both believe Smith will have the chance to play in the NFL.

``I think that he'll get picked up by a team, he'll be the backup or third-team guy and then somebody will put the guy on the field and he'll never come off,'' Graham said. ``That's how good I think he is.''

``I think he's a phenomenal player. He's a guy that the measuring stick and the 40-yard dash and all that might not be what everybody's looking for, but as far as being a great quarterback? He's a great quarterback in every sense of the word.''

That means understanding defenses, leading his team on and off the field and showing the ability to do ``things that you would tell quarterbacks, 'Don't do that,' and he can do it,'' Graham said.

And what will help Smith's legacy linger is his heart. After all, Graham had to explain to his disappointed 5-year-old son, Michael, why Smith wouldn't be around after this season. The two have become friends as Smith stuck around after practice to play with him and carted him around when the Golden Hurricane were on the road.

It was a role reversal for Smith, who remembers tagging along when his father, Ron, was the offensive coordinator on a state championship football team whose players treated Smith like family.

``I remember the ones that took time to talk to me. I always kind of made that commitment to myself to always make time,'' Smith said.

Time for faith, family, football and plenty more.

``He's incredible. He's got a gift,'' Graham said. ``I think that's what makes him so great. He knows that the good Lord has blessed him with the talents that he has, and he really stays grounded and really stays humble in his approach.

``Man, he's a winner too, though. You say all those nice things about him, but he's intense. He's a competitor.''

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