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 HOUSTON (AP) -With all that talk about a perfect season and a BCS bid now history, No. 25 Tulsa can concentrate on winning the Conference USA title.
The Golden Hurricane's next step toward that goal is getting past West Division rival Houston on Saturday night. Tulsa (8-1, 5-0) hasn't played since Arkansas handed the Hurricane's their first loss two weeks ago.
``To drop one hurts us, but we still have the attitude that we're going to win out,'' Tulsa offensive lineman Rod Thomas said. ``We still have the attitude that we want to go undefeated in our conference. We still have the attitude that we want to be Conference USA champions. That doesn't change.''
Houston (5-4, 4-1) is only a game back of Tulsa in the C-USA West standings.
The West title has gone to one of these teams in each of the last three years, with Tulsa winning it in 2005 and 2007 and Houston getting it in 2006.
rback Case Keenum said. ``We want to win the west. This is a big step in staying in the hunt for the west title. It is a big week and we are going out there prepared and do our jobs.''
These two offenses do the job as well as any in the country. Tulsa leads the nation in total offense (593 yards per game) and scoring (52 points per game) and Houston is fourth in yards (547.33) and 14th in points (38). Tulsa quarterback David Johnson and Houston's Keenum both rank in the top five nationally in passing yards per game.
``They know who they are offensively and what they're doing,'' Tulsa coach Todd Graham said. ``I think we mirror each other a little bit as programs. We do what we do and have a good understanding of what we're doing and so do they.''
Graham is impressed with Keenum, a sophomore in his second season as a starter. Keenum has thrown for 300 yards or more in the last 10 games and has thrown a touchdown pass in the last 12.
``He's one of the best in the league and one of the best in the country in operating what they do,'' Graham said. ``They're one of the top offenses in the country and we've got to go out there and figure out a way to slow them down.''
While both teams are pass-first operations, Tulsa also has the top rushing game in C-USA with more than 247 yards a game.
. ``As soon as you get concerned with a quick strike, you look up and they are running for almost 250 yards a game. They run a variety of different things and you can't prepare for it all ... you can expect anything.''
Houston's running game has improved recently with the emergence of freshman Bryce Beall. He didn't crack 100 yards in his first four games, but has surpassed the mark four times in the last five games. His best performance came last week against Tulane, when he ran for a freshman school record 176 yards and had three touchdowns.
``The thing that I think they're doing a great job of is it's not just throwing the ball, but they're running the football with some effectiveness,'' Graham said. ``That's really helped them as of late.''
Tulsa got a lopsided 56-7 win over Houston last season, but both teams say that game won't carry over into this one.
``Honestly, I forgot a lot of last year's game,'' Keenum said. ``That is one thing that coach told me. Good quarterbacks have amnesia. I will forget about the last play, the last game no matter if it is good or bad.''
Graham agreed.
``The thing that we've made sure of is our guys understand this is a new year,'' Graham said. ``That was a different circumstance. That has sure not been the norm in this game, what happened last year. They've won two of the last three contests with us. ... they've won 12 of their last 13 home games. That's big. This is a big challenge for us.''
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