Saturday will be the endgame for the University of Tulsa football team.
TU’s game against East Carolina at 11 a.m. will be the last one of the season for the Golden Hurricane after failing to reach bowl eligibility for the third year in a row. A win would put TU at 4-8, meaning the Hurricane would see a one-win increase every year since a 2-10 campaign in 2017. The Hurricane ended last season with a victory over SMU to see its win total rise one.
“Everyone hates losing,” quarterback Zach Smith said. “When you end the season on a loss like that it’s just kind of depressing, especially after the kind of season that we’ve had so far. It hasn’t shaped up to be like what we thought it’d be, but ending the season on a win would just be momentum going forward into the offseason, into workouts, and then eventually on into next season.”
Win or not Saturday, it was a season TU coach Philip Montgomery deemed frustrating. TU’s schedule featured five teams that have appeared in the College Football Playoff rankings, and two of those — SMU in Dallas and Memphis at home — the Hurricane was a made field goal away from upsetting. The Hurricane also led Oklahoma State (now ranked No. 21 in the CFP poll) 21-20 at halftime before losing 40-21 at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
The Hurricane did manage to end a five-game losing streak with a 34-31 victory against a UCF team that was on the verge of debuting in the CFP rankings; however, that triumph was followed by a 24-14 loss to a 3-7 Houston team last week.
“Yeah, I’m frustrated,” Montgomery said. “I think we’re so much better of a team right now than we have been the last couple of years. A couple of breaks here and there changes the whole course of your season.
“Our guys have put in a lot of work and it’s paid off from the standpoint of how we’ve gotten better — maybe not on the record side of it, but with the competition that we’ve played, and the way we played within those games, I don’t think there’s any questions. So, yeah, my frustration level is high, yet I am encouraged by the way our guys continue to get better and continue to grow.”
The frustration from 2019 could lessen or continue to linger depending on Saturday’s outcome, but either way, by midafternoon, the Hurricane will be finished competing until Sept. 5, when TU hosts Toledo in its season opener.
“The season’s kind of flown by,” Smith said. “It kind of seems to every year, but it’s the last one, and we got to go out there and get a win and finish it off right.”