Armed Forces Bowl preview: Tulsa-BYU

The 2011-12 bowl season continues Friday with the Armed Forces Bowl between Tulsa and BYU in Dallas.

The Golden Hurricane and the Cougars are former conference foes, as they were both members of the WAC from 1996-99. This will be the eighth meeting between the squads.

Let’s take a look at this contest a little more closely…

Armed Forces Bowl preview: Tulsa (8-4) vs. BYU (9-3) at Noon ET on ESPN

In its first season since Todd Graham departed for Pittsburgh -- and, ultimately, Arizona State -- Tulsa suffered four losses, with all of the defeats coming to teams that were in the Top 10 at the time of the game (Oklahoma, ranked No. 1 at the time; Oklahoma State, No. 8; Boise State, No. 4; and Houston, No. 8). But the Golden Hurricane used their explosive offense to take care of business in the games they were supposed to win, and the end result was an eight-win regular season.

G.J. KinneICONG.J. Kinne leads a balanced Tulsa offense against BYU.

Quarterback G.J. Kinne leads a balanced offense, throwing 25 touchdowns against 12 interceptions while averaging 250 passing yards per game. Sophomore Ja'Terian Douglas paces a strong rushing attack that ranks 25th nationally, averaging over 200 yards per contest.

Defensively, Tulsa struggles against the pass. However, their worst outings have come against the Top 10 teams mentioned above, all of whom possess great quarterbacks. End Tyrunn Walker leads a solid pass rush with eight sacks.

Meanwhile, BYU played its best football of the year with Riley Nelson at quarterback. Hence, former starter Jake Heaps is on his way to Kansas. In their first season as an independent, the Cougars won nine games after starting 1-2. The momentum shifted in Week 5, when Heaps was benched for Nelson when the team was trailing to Utah State. He rallied the squad to victory, and the offense started to resemble the unit that thrived in the second half of last season. After missing two games with a collapsed lung and bruised ribs, Nelson returned to throw three scores in the season finale at Hawaii. First-year coordinator Brandon Doman certainly would love to have scored more points, but the good news is that the unit looked much better as the season progressed.

Defensively, the Cougars give up just over 315 yards per game, which ranks No. 17 in the nation. They faced two teams this fall with high-powered offenses like Tulsa, losing to TCU and beating Utah State. The good news for BYU fans is that the team held the Horned Frogs and Aggies to less than their season averages in yards.

Keep an eye on: The BYU offensive line. This unit has done a nice job of protecting the quarterback, as it is tied for 25th in the country for fewest sacks allowed. But the Tulsa defense averages two sacks per game, and first-team all-Conference USA defender Curnelius Arnick is one of the most active linebackers in the country.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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