Liberty Bowl Odds
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane (10-3, 7-1 C-USA) square off against the Iowa State Cyclones (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) in the 2012 AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Monday, December 31st. Kickoff is set for 3:30 EST and you can catch this contest on ESPN. Taking a look at the bowl odds in Las Vegas, I find a line of Iowa State -1 over Tulsa and a total set of 51.5 points.
Why Iowa State Covers
The Cyclones have been one of the most underrated teams in the country under head coach Paul Rhoads. He has taken them to a bowl game now in three of his four years on the job even though they weren’t expected to go bowling in any of those four seasons.
Tulsa is obviously from a smaller conference, and it struggled in its two games against BCS schools this season. It lost at Iowa State 23-38 in the opener for both teams, and it lost at Arkansas 15-19 against a Razorbacks team that was clearly down this season.
Iowa State really dominated the first meeting between these teams. It racked up 441 total yards with 160 on the ground and 281 through the air, doing pretty much whatever it wanted to. It also held Tulsa to a respectable 358 total yards in that 38-23 home victory.
The Golden Hurricane are just 8-31 against the spread after 2 straight games where 60 total points or more were scored since 1992. Tulsa is 5-15-1 against the spread in its last 21 vs. Big 12 opponents. The Cyclones are 5-2 against the spread in their last 7 following an ATS loss. The Golden Hurricane are 1-4 against the spread in their last 5 non-conference games.
Why Tulsa Covers
The Golden Hurricane won Conference-USA by beating a very good Central Florida team twice, including a 33-27 overtime victory on the conference championship game. This is a team that certainly got better as the season progressed, and it has managed to win 10 games, which is a bar only achieved by very good football programs.
A closer look at the numbers really shows how solid this team really is. Tulsa is scoring 35.0 points per game while ranking 25th in the country in total offense at 460.8 yards per game. It is allowing 24.2 points per game while ranking 34th in the land in total defense at 353.9 yards per game. As you can see, it is outgaining opponents by an average of 106.9 yards per game. To compare, Iowa State is getting outgained by 72.6 yards per game on the season.
There’s no question that the Golden Hurricane want revenge from that earlier loss to the Cyclones, which came on the road. On a neutral field this time around, they will certainly put up a much better fight. Iowa State has to be disappointed in the fact that it will play an opponent that it has already beaten, so it really has nothing to prove. Tulsa will have no problem getting motivated to play a team that is lost to earlier this season.
Iowa State is 3-13 against the spread in road games off a close loss by 7 points or less to a conference rival since 1992. Tulsa is 7-0 against the spread in road games vs. poor passing defenses – allowing a completion percentage of 58% or worse over the last 3 seasons. It is winning in this spot by an average of 13.4 points per game.
I selected Tulsa to win this game according to my 2012-13 bowl predictions. You can check out all 35 of them with this link. Also take a look at who Jimmy Boyd, Carolina Sports, Brandon Lee and Ryan James have picked in the Liberty Bowl.