TU's triple play: Hurricane, Iowa State meet three times in 13-month span
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2012
12/29/12 at 5:11 AM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Within a span of 13 months, the University of Tulsa and Central Florida football teams clashed three times. The Golden Hurricane prevailed at UCF in November 2011 and defeated the Knights in two home dates this season - on Nov. 17 and in the Dec. 1 Conference USA championship game.
Such a three-game arrangement doesn't happen often, but it's happening again with TU and Iowa State: three meetings in 13 months.
In this season's Sept. 1 opener, the Hurricane lost 38-23 at Ames. On Monday, in the 2:30 p.m., ESPN-televised Liberty Bowl, the teams are brought together for a rematch. And in September - in TU's fourth and final nonconference game of the 2013 season - the Cyclones visit H.A. Chapman Stadium.
"It will be interesting when we get to next year," Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said. "The games this season, they are far enough apart that we have plenty to work on. Iowa State is a different team now. We're a different team now.
"Seeing (an opponent) three times doesn't bother me because it's in my paradigm. At the high school level, we regularly would face a team in the regular season and then in the playoffs, and then we'd see them again the following season. It happened all the time."
On Sept. 1, Iowa State was quarterbacked by Steele Jantz. All-Big 12 linebacker Jake Knott totaled 11 tackles. Running back Shontrelle Johnson rushed for 120 yards.
In the Liberty Bowl, Iowa State will be quarterbacked by a redshirt freshman (Sam B. Richardson). Knott sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in October. Johnson will not play in the bowl game because of a knee injury sustained in practice last week.
From September to December, the TU identity also changed.
Quarterback Cody Green was rusty in September - the result of having been redshirted in 2011, following his transfer from Nebraska. In the opener, the Hurricane wasn't yet settled on a linebacker rotation. TU had two first-time starters at offensive tackle (Jared Grigg and Brian DeShane). TU's Bryan Burnham sustained a season-ending knee injury during the third period at Iowa State, leaving the Hurricane without its most experienced wide receiver.
For coaches on both sides, the Liberty Bowl rematch provides preparation challenges.
"Lord knows. we are not working on the third game (at Tulsa next season)," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "We are focused on (the Liberty Bowl). ... You take a season's worth of change and development on their end and figure out what you have. You also look at changes on your own ball team - and see how that impacts you offensively and defensively - and put it together. It is nice to have the amount of time in bowl preparation that we had."
One aspect of the Tulsa-Iowa State Liberty Bowl rematch is extremely unique. During August camp, the Hurricane was partly or exclusively focused on Iowa State for three weeks. During the last two weeks, Iowa State has been at the center of TU's Liberty Bowl planning.
Combined, Tulsa has committed most of five weeks of practice to one opponent - the Iowa State Cyclones.
"That's a lot of time to spend on one opponent," Green said. "These are definitely two teams that know each other very well, and we'll get reminded of it all again in September - when they come to our house."
LIBERTY BOWL: TU (10-3) VS. IOWA STATE (6-6)
2:30 p.m. Monday • Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn • TV: ESPN-25 • Radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Original Print Headline: TU's triple play
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
TU head coach Bill Blankenship runs practice Friday in Memphis, Tenn. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
Ja'Terian Douglas gets away from Iowa State's Jake Knott during TU's season-opening loss. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file
TU's Willie Carter catches a pass during Friday's practice. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World