TU football: Three storylines
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 3:33 AM
Hammer time for the Hurricane
What separates the University of Tulsa football team from others in Conference USA? Run-game personnel. TU has the league's best offensive line and three productive tailbacks. Ja'Terian Douglas, Trey Watts and Alex Singleton have a combined total of 2,220 rushing yards. They are on pace to finish with a 14-game total of 2,825. To get more than 2,800 yards from one position qualifies as extraordinary, and the SMU defense can expect to see a lot of the Douglas-Watts-Singleton attack. At Houston, there were 60 rush attempts. Against UCF last week, there were 53. That is the Tulsa formula for success.
Zach Line a challenge for TU defense
In four games this season, the Hurricane defense allowed an opposing running back to rush for at least 100 yards. Iowa State's Shontrelle Johnson had 120, Fresno State's Robbie Rouse had 135, Rice's Luke Turner had 102 and Arkansas' Dennis Johnson had 109. Last week, UCF's Latavius Murray mustered only 60 yards on 22 attempts. On Saturday, TU faces a guy - SMU's Zach Line - who may be the best running back on the schedule. At No. 2 on the Mustangs' career rushing list, trailing only Eric Dickerson, Line is far and away the Conference USA rushing leader at 1,126 yards. While averaging nearly 5 yards per attempt, Line has scored nine TDs.
Detour on the championship journey
TU already has clinched the Conference USA West Division title and a berth in next week's championship game. Now, during a holiday weekend, the Hurr icane is required to travel to Dallas for a regular-season finale against SMU. Might there be the possibility of an emotional letdown by the Hurricane? TU is riding a streak of eight consecutive victories in conference road games. Tulsa is better than UAB and better than Marshall, yet needed fourth-quarter heroics to record road victories over both of those teams. As the Hurricane is matched with an SMU team that needs a victory to become bowl eligible, Saturday's game could be comparably dramatic.