Over a 13-month span, Iowa State and Tulsa will meet three times. The second meeting in that quirk of scheduling will take place in Monday's Autozone Liberty Bowl.
On Sept. 1 in Ames in the first of a home-and-home series, the Cyclones rallied to defeat the Golden Hurricane 38-23. With the Big 12 having more bowl-eligible teams than bowl agreements, Iowa State was picked to fill a vacant spot in the Liberty Bowl opposite the Conference USA champion. The Cyclones will travel to Tulsa next Sept. 21.
Bowl rematches of regular-season games are rare. While both Iowa State (6-6) and Tulsa have plenty of familiarity, the teams that will meet in Memphis have made changes over the course of the season.
Steele Jantz was the Cyclones' starting quarterback in the opener and threw for two touchdowns. However, redshirt freshman Sam Richardson will start the bowl game. He started the season finale against West Virginia after coming off the bench and sparking the offense in a 51-23 victory at Kansas that made Iowa State bowl eligible.
"All the practices we've had with Sam over the past month have been very beneficial," Iowa State left tackle Carter Bykowski said. "Especially the offensive line, we're kind of getting a better feel for him, how he scrambles. Those are things that are kind of hard to develop over one week."
Tulsa (10-3) quarterback Cody Green, who sat out last season after transferring from Nebraska, showed the effects of inactivity in the season opener. He has improved as the season progressed and is now an integral part of a Golden Hurricane offense that averages 240 yards rushing per game.
Iowa State is playing in its third bowl game in four years under coach Paul Rhoads. A victory would give the Cyclones a winning record for the second time in Rhoads' tenue.
"This is a football team that's been very driven. We've had zero motivational problems in all 12 weeks," Rhoads said. "Their reaction to this bowl bid and the opportunity to play Tulsa was ecstatic. They're excited to be playing football in December.
"The expectations in this program from day one are to win bowl games."
Autozone Liberty Bowl
Iowa State vs. Tulsa
Need to know: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, ESPN.
Team records: Iowa State 6-6, Tulsa 10-3.
Scouting Iowa State
Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Richardson will make his second start. He came off the bench to spark the Cyclones' victory at Kansas that made the team bowl eligible. In the last two games, he's thrown for seven touchdowns and also has been an effective runner. Running back Shontrelle Johnson, who had a career-high 120 yards rushing in the season-opening victory over Tulsa, will miss the bowl game with a knee injury. Iowa State's defense has played the last four games without All-Big12 linebacker Jake Knott. He had season-ending surgery in early November.
The Golden Hurricane rely on a relentless running game that ranks 11th nationally with 240 yards per game. Running backs Alex Singleton, Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas all have gained over 760 yards rushing. Junior quarterback Cody Green, a transfer from Nebraska, has nine of his 20 total touchdowns over the last four games. Tulsa's defense is third in the nation in sacks and fourth in tackles for loss. Linebacker DeAundre Brown leads Tulsa in tackles (125) and tackles for loss (17.0). He also had 9.0 sacks. He's one of four players who have at least 4.5 sacks. Defensive end Jared St. John led the team with 11.5 sacks.
All six of Iowa State's losses came to teams playing in bowl games. ... The Cyclones are 3-8 in bowl games, including a 31-30 loss to Georgia Tech in the 1972 Liberty Bowl. ... Iowa State strong safety Durrell Givins is tied for first in the nation in take-aways. His national-best six fumble recoveries and three interceptions give him nine takeaways in 11games. ... Tulsa is playing in its eighth bowl game in the last 10 seasons. ... During coach Paul Rhoads' four seasons, Iowa State is 21-1 when holding teams under 24 points. ... The Golden Hurricane won their second Conference USA championship with an overtime victory against Central Florida.