|Tulsa celebrated its first Conference USA title since 2005 with a win over UCF on Saturday. (US Presswire)|
TULSA WON: There were missed field goals, 5-yard punts, and wind whipping more than 20 miles per hour at Chapman Stadium in Tulsa. But although the conditions affected both teams, Tulsa's consistent rushing attack and UCF's miscues made the difference in a 33-27 overtime win. For the first time since 2005, Tulsa was able to celebrate a Conference USA championship.
HOW TULSA WON: Both teams were sloppy early, possibly an issue related to jitters or the early start (11 a.m. local time). But it was Tulsa that did a better job correcting its errors and overcoming the elements to escape with the win. There were stretches of the game in which Golden Hurricane quarterback Cody Green simply could not get on the same page as his wide receivers. Luckily, Trey Watts (25 carries, 134 yards) and Alex Singleton (25 carries, 100 yards, two touchdowns) were there to provide some stability when throwing the ball was simply not an option.
Then the kicks. Oh, the kicks.
The wind made flipping the field nearly impossible on a punt. And more than once, a possible field goal was nixed because of the direction of the wind. Both UCF kicker Shawn Moffitt and Tulsa kicker Daniel Schwarz had extra points blocked, but it was a partially blocked field goal during the first possession of overtime that allowed Tulsa to win with a score.
WHAT TULSA WON: In the madness of conference realignment, one piece that has been left out has been Tulsa. Despite more on-field success than East Carolina and Tulane, the small enrollment -- overall enrollment of 4,194 is the smallest of all FBS schools -- and lack of a desirable market make the Golden Hurricane the most impressive "have nots" in the shifting conference landscape. Coach Bill Blankenship, a Tulsa grad himself, has brought the Golden Hurricane back to a position to dominate the league the way that Todd Graham did before him.
WHAT CENTRAL FLORIDA LOST: NCAA sanctions and a move to the Big East have kept things busy for UCF off the field, and an appeal of their postseason ban pushed the punishment to the 2013 season. This was the one opportunity for the Knights to capitalize and claim a conference title in their last season of Conference USA play. The "all or nothing" didn't translate to the field, though, and Central Florida was once again hurt by many of the same mistakes that have recurred throughout the season.
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