Tulsa (3-1) at UAB (0-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 3:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Legion Field (72,000) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: Tulsa 3-0, UAB 0-1. Away Record: Tulsa 0-1, UAB 0-2. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, UAB 0-0. Conference Record: Tulsa 1-0, UAB 0-0. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: The UAB Blazers return home in search of their first win of the season when they host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane for Conference USA action at Legion Field.
Tulsa rallied from 13 points down to top Fresno State, 27-26, to win its third game in a row and improve to 3-1 overall in the early season. Prior to the win over the Bulldogs, the Golden Hurricane suffered a 38-23 setback to Iowa State in their opener before defeating Tulane (45-10) and Nicholls (66-16). Coach Bill Blankenship, now in his second season at the helm of the program, has an overall record of 11-6.
The Blazers played much better in their second straight matchup versus a ranked opponent and even led in the final frame, but still lost, 29-15, to the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus last week. The defeat was the third in as many games for UAB this season. Prior to losing to Urban Meyer's new team, UAB lost its season opener at home to Troy (39-29) and a tough road game at South Carolina (49-6). A win in this one would not only give the Blazers their first of the season, it would also be the first career victory for coach Garrick McGee, who was hired this past winter after spending numerous seasons as an assistant all around the country.
Tulsa has won all three previous meetings in the series's history. The Golden Hurricane cruised to an easy, 37-20, decision in last season's meeting in Oklahoma.
The Golden Hurricane are an efficient offensive team with averages of 40.3 points and 482.3 total yards per contest. Both those averages rank second in the C-USA behind Marshall. The Golden Hurricane have not been quite as effective against their tougher competition as they were held under 400 yards of total offense by Iowa State and Fresno State.
A big question coming into the season for Tulsa was whether or not Cody Green would be able to replace G.J. Kinne well enough for the team to remain a contender for the league title. Green has been streaky under center. Tulsa was lucky to escape its last outing with a victory considering its junior QB completed only 13-of-37 passes for 202 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Green's favorite targets have been Keyarris Garrett and Jordan James. Garrett is leading the team with 204 yards and three touchdowns on 14 catches. James had a breakout performance with four catches for 84 yards last week against Fresno State. Thomas Robinson also showed he will come through with some big plays by catching the go-ahead touchdown his last time out.
Tulsa rotates a trio of running backs to continuously change the pace. Ja'Terian Douglas has been the most effective with 355 yards and four touchdowns on 40 carries, but Alex Singleton leads the team with 40 rushes which he has turned into 184 yards and five scores. Trey Watts has displayed pure speed with an average of 7.5 yards per carry.
Tulsa's defense is allowing a conference low 338 yards of total offense per game. The unit came up big last week versus Fresno State by not allowing the Bulldogs to cross the 50-yard line in the final 15 minutes to fend off the visitors and hang on for the win.
Shawn Jackson had a strong showing with 11 tackles and a forced fumble. Throughout the season, DeAundre Brown has been the leader of the squad and has recorded a team-high 37 tackles.
UAB has a quarterback controversy on its hands after a strong performance by redshirt freshman Austin Brown last week versus Ohio State. Jonathan Perry, who was the starter for the majority of last season, was pulled after just a quarter of action. In relief duty, Brown threw for 196 yards on 21-of-35 passing, but there is no official word which passer will lead the offense in the team's C-USA opener.
Whichever quarterback gets the start will be looking for Jackie Williams and Patrick Hearn. Williams and Hearn have combined for 471 of the team's 824 receiving yards to this point.
Defensively, UAB showed improvement last week against a respectable opponent, as it held Ohio State to 347 total yards. The Blazers had surrendered 39 points to Troy and 49 to South Carolina in their previous two outings.
UAB needs to establish a more reliable rushing attack this week to take pressure off whoever starts under center. Its defense played exceptionally well for three quarters against Ohio State, but it wore down when it mattered most. Tulsa holds an edge, but it could falter if Green does not realize the importance of the possession.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulsa 34, UAB 23
09/26 10:44:21 ET