The credit for Iowa State’s win at Tulsa Thursday night could go many directions. A lot of stats will be shared today to explain the Cyclones’ dominating performance.
My favorite numbers are 317 and 86.
In the AutoZone Liberty Bowl match-up between the same schools last December, Tulsa rushed for 317 net yards. Tulsa netted 86 yards on the ground last night.
In the bowl game, UT got 149 yards on the ground from Trey Watts, 79 from Ja’Terian Douglas and 51 from Cody Green.
All three of those Tulsa ballcarriers returned this year along with three starting linemen. The Cyclone defense, meanwhile, is trying to replace an All-Big 12 tackle and two NFL linebackers.
With those personnel facts as the backdrop, Tulsa averaged only 3 yards per carry Thursday. Watts, Douglas and Green had 38, 24 and negative 5 yards, respectively.
“To hold a team to less than 100 yards rushing – especially with their returning talent – is a big statistic,” Coach Paul Rhoads said on his post-game radio show.
There will be accolades for the ISU offense, too. Its 38 points were noteworthy.
But, winning teams play good run defense. After giving up more than 300 yards on the ground to Tulsa in the bowl, allowing 231 fewer yards last night had to be really satisfying.