The 2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl will take place on Monday and we will see the Iowa State Cyclones take on the Tulas Golden Hurricane in Memphis Tennessee. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 PM (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live on ESPN. Currently the odds for the game have Iowa State favored by 2 points, while the total sits at 51. Check out Sportsbook Spy to find out what side the Public is taking on all today's games.
Free Analysis: Iowa State began the season with a 38-23 victory over Tulsa and added two more victories over Iowa (9-6) and Western Illinois (37-3), but it went 3-6 in Big 12 action to finish at the .500 mark with a 6-6 overall record. Coach Paul Rhoads guided the team to a few impressive decisions over Baylor (35-21) and TCU (37-23) and it came up just short in its regular-season finale versus West Virginia (31-24). ISU was inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball this season as it scored over 30 points five times but was held to 21 or less on five separate occasions. Overall, the Cyclones averaged 25.2 points and 371.2 yards of total offense. Freshman quarterback Sam Richardson took over the offense in the closing weeks of the season and gave ISU a glimpse of its bright future. The rookie passer did not start against Kansas, but came in to complete 23-of-27 attempts for 250 yards and four scores. The following week he went 13-of-31 for 162 yards and three TDs, but made up for his poor accuracy by gaining 119 yards on 18 rushes. The ISU rushing attack revolves around Shontrelle Johnson (504 yards, 115 carries) and James White (469 yards, 89 carries). Johnson's only 100-yard performance this season came versus Tulsa in the opener. Defensively, the Cyclones allowed 444.8 yards of total offense per contest to their opposition, which ranked 98th in the FBS. However, they only gave up 23.3 points per game, which was the 36th best mark in the country.
Blankenship's unit rebounded from its season-opening loss to the Cyclones by winning seven in a row before suffering a hard-fought road loss at Arkansas (19-15). The Golden Hurricane then won their next two games over Houston (41-7) and UCF (23-21) before losing to the inspired and now Hawaii Bowl champion SMU Mustangs (35-27) in the regular-season finale. Tulsa bounced back to down UCF in the Conference USA Championship game by six points in an overtime thriller to repeat as league champions. Blankenship was named the C- USA Coach of the Year after leading the program to a 10-3 record which included an 8-1 mark in league action and a perfect 6-0 display at home. Tulsa is one of the few teams from the C-USA that relies on its rushing attack for production. It is hard to argue with the results as the Golden Hurricane rank 11th in the FBS in rushing offense (240.3 ypg) and third in the conference in scoring offense (35 ppg). The team racked up an average of 500 yards per contest over its last four outings. Tulsa's smash-mouth style features a stable of talented rushers, whose different styles continuously keep opposing defenses guessing. Ja'Terian Douglas (857 yards, seven TDs) and Trey Watts (959 yards, three TDs) have both shown off speed, vision, and elusiveness when handed the ball to kick the offense into higher gear. Alex Singleton (187 carries, 761 yards) is not as explosive as his co-workers in the backfield, but his bruising rushing style has yielded 21 rushing touchdowns and an average of 10.2 points scored per game. With a run-first offense, Cody Green accepted the role of game manager for the majority of the season. However, the junior QB has evolved into more of a threat late in the season including 413 yards passing at SMU. Green enters the bowl game with 2,499 yards, 17 TDs, and 10 interceptions with a 54.5 percent completion rate. The Tulsa defensive unit is the best from the C-USA with only 353.9 yards allowed and is second to UCF with only 24.2 points given up per contest. The unit has made big plays in the backfield consistently with 104 tackles for loss, 48 sacks, and 24 total takeaways.
Free Pick: I am looking to take the Over in this one. Tulsa's offense is a run first offense but they do put up 35 ppg and teams have been opening up their offense a bit more. Tulsa will use their run game to set up some big pays down field. Tulsa does average 240 ypg on the ground and 220 ypg through the air, making this balanced offense hard to defend. They will be taking on a Cyclone defense that allowed 441 ypg, including 280 ypg through the air. The Cyclones do allow just 23.3 ppg, but I feel that Tulsa will find a way to put more points than that on the board. Iowa State mad a late switch at QB to Sam Richardson and he had a good showing in helping the Cyclones put up 75 points in their last 2 games. Tulsa's defense is not easy to move the ball on, but they still allowed 24.2 ppg on the year, including 27.7 ppg in their last 3 games. These teams put up 61 points in the first meeting and could come close to that in this one.
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