This should be the best non conference game for New Mexico. Tulsa did beat BYU last year in Tulsa, which is where this game is and Tulsa could be an extreme dark horse to become a BCS qualifier. Tulsa can put up a ton of points which can rival nearly every team in the country.
Offense: The Golden Hurricanes do have to replace stat monster quarterback Paul Smith who graduated, and the new quarterback to lead this offense will be Senior David Johnson who was Smith’s backup for a few years. According to coach Todd Graham the offense should not miss a beat to score points, and it helps that there are nine returning starters. There is an outside shot that redshirt freshman Clark Harrell and junior college transfer Jacob Bower could get steal the starting job from Johnson IF he falls apart which is unlikely.
The offensive line is all intact from last year and they should be able to dominate the line of scrimmage in nearly every game this year. Challenges will come from New Mexico, Arkansas, and UCF but even then Tulsa will be able to handle their own. The running game will be lead by Tarrion Adams who rushed for 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns while catching 30 passes and three touchdown receptions. The other two players who will split time sophomore Jamad Williams and redshirt freshman Charles Opeseyitan. This set of triplets will be a challenge for any team and be able to have a nice change of pace backs to mix things up.
The receivers are experienced but youthful at the same time are very good and are lead by senior Brennan Marion who caught 39 passes for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s an amazing 31.9 yards per catch and a touchdown every 3.54 receptions, so he is the guy to stop for the deep threat. The ball gets tossed around to each receiver evenly, so every wide out gets the ball and is a threat.
Defense: This is the area of improvement if Tulsa is going to get over the hump and win C-USA and get into the top 25. They do return five defensive starters, and the Golden Hurricanes run the 3-3-5 which can cause confusion for teams offensively. That defense also can break down easily if someone misses an assignment which explains how they gave up 35 points per game. With only have of the defense returning this might be the same as last year with inexperience at the linebacker corp.
The front line however is where the strength of the defense will be, and will be improved over last year which is where Tulsa had problems last year. If the defense can play a tiny bit better then last year then they will be fine and win at least 9 nine games.
Early Prediction: Tulsa at home is a good team where they have gone 22-6 in the past five years. This will be tough for New Mexico, and this will be New Mexico’s first road game of the year and against their toughest non conference opponent. If this game turns into a track meet Tulsa will be able to win and should win by seven points.