The Golden Hurricanes (do they even have hurricanes in Tulsa?) had a fairly easy schedule this year, so it's not a surprise that they finished with 8 wins. What is a surprise is that they struggled for a big bulk of their conference schedule. After opening the season 7-1, Tulsa then limped to a 1-3 finish, nearly the opposite of Utah's finish.
It's fairly interesting to note that Tulsa did not play one BCS team this season. While the Utes only played one, it proved to be a difficult task as they got hammered on the road against UCLA.
Here's a look at Tulsa's schedule and some comments I've made about the game.
Stephen F. Austin - W: Tulsa should have won this game, so nothing to really say here.
@ BYU - L: I'm not surprised that Tulsa lost, but they were totally dominated by the Cougars. BYU won 49-24 and controlled the entire flow of the game. This is the only common opponent between the two and it's obvious the Utes gave the Cougars a better game.
North Texas - W: An expected win for Tulsa, but not a truly dominant one. North Texas went 3-9 this season and Tulsa only scored 28 points against them. To contrast, North Texas gave up 35 points to Middle Tennessee State.
@ Navy - W: This is clearly Tulsa's most impressive win. Even though I watched the game, I don't remember much about it except that the game went into OT and Navy lost the game on a missed PAT.
Southern Mississippi - W: Another solid win for the Golden Hurricanes, as So. Miss won the C-USA East and will be playing for the C-USA Championship.
@ East Carolina - W: East Carolina isn't a great team, but a solid road victory over a Pirates team that does have a winning record and a win over North Carolina State.
@ Memphis - W: Memphis sucks this year, so this was expected.
UTEP - W: See Memphis.
@ Houston - L: Tough loss, in a game where Tulsa was pretty much crushed. Houston isn't a bad team and most likely will win the C-USA, but this loss really sent Tulsa into a tailspin at the end of the year.
Rice - L: Rice has improved, but I don't see how Tulsa could have lost this game at home. This was their second straight loss.
@ SMU - L: Ouch. Ok, SMU does have a 6-6 record, but losing to them when many picked Tulsa to win the conference is pretty inexcusable.
Tulane - W: A victory to end the 3-game losing streak against a really bad Tulane team.
Looking at the schedule, I am impressed with Tulsa's wins over So. Miss and Navy, but equally not impressed with their losses to BYU, Rice and SMU. I think Tulsa is a solid non-BCS team, but one Utah should beat handily. Of course the Utes have lost games they should have won handily this year (New Mexico!), so I guess it wouldn't be a shock if they lost this one, too.
In reality, I think Tulsa and Utah's seasons mirror each other. They both basically finished with the same record, struggled through apart of their conference season and finished with the same conference record. I think the MWC is more talented than the C-USA, but not by much. I'm looking forward to this game, only because I think it's winnable. A few weeks ago I felt if the Utes were to get to a bowl game they'd get rolled, now I'm confident they could beat a lot of these bowl eligible teams. It's just a shame neither Tulsa and Utah can beat up on a BCS team.