Tulsa will be a very interesting opponent for the UCF Knights as they near the end of the regular season.
While they are not a top-notch team, the Golden Hurricane played excellent competition last season as part of one of the toughest schedules in the country that included four losses to teams ranked in the top 10.
In three of its first four games, Tulsa was defeated by No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 8 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Boise State. The Golden Hurricane closed their regular season with a loss to then-No. 8 Houston.
For those who may have forgotten, Tulsa roared into Bright House Networks Stadium a season ago and beat the Knights, 24-17.
So why should the Golden Hurricane, a team that went 0-4 vs. top-10 teams last season, concern the Knights? Because for UCF, a team that has a realistic chance to be ranked — and possibly ranked fairly high — it cannot afford to slip up against a team like Tulsa, a team that is seemingly undaunted by any opponent.
The Golden Hurricane are dangerous. If UCF plays up to its full potential and catches some breaks over the course of the season, it still would not be the same caliber of a team as last year’s Boise State, Oklahoma or Oklahoma State teams.
Those were excellent teams and, accordingly, return players for Tulsa have no fear of high-level competition.
What to look for
This season, Tulsa looks to have a very weak schedule — at least in comparison to a year ago. Still, the final four games are a gauntlet for the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa plays Arkansas, Houston, UCF and Southern Methodist, respectively.
The Golden Hurricane got excellent production under center with quarterback G.J. Kinne throwing for 28 touchdowns last season. Kinne graduated, though, and Tulsa is looking for his replacement for 2012. This bodes well for the rest of the conference. Look for more of a run-heavy attack with two sophomore tailbacks returning from last season. Ja’Terian Douglas and Trey Watts combined for more than 1,700 yards and averaged more than six yards per carry between them.
The unsung hero for the Golden Hurricane, and perhaps their biggest offensive weapon, is tight end Clay Sears. At 6-foot-4, 234 pounds, he is built like a large wide receiver — and he produces like one too. Sears caught 37 balls for seven touchdowns last season. In the red zone, UCF linebackers and safeties must know where he is at all times.
Good teams scored a lot of points against the Golden Hurricane defense last season. If the Knights are going to be a good team, you can expect more of the same. Tulsa may not have the firepower to stick with UCF this season, though it sets up as the perfect trap game.
The Golden Hurricane are not scared of anyone, they play tough and it is a home conference game for a proud program.