Tulsa Accepts Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Invitation

The University of Tulsa has accepted a 2011 bid from the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The 8-4 Golden Hurricane will face 9-3 BYU on Friday, Dec. 30 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas.

As the official bowl game that honors all branches of the United States armed forces, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will air at 11 a.m. (CST) on ESPN and ESPN Radio. Tulsa will be competing in the NCAA postseason for the second-straight year after posting a 62-35 win over Hawai’i at the 2010 Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl.

The BYU-Tulsa matchup will be the eighth time the two teams have faced each other with the Cougars holding a 6-1 edge. The lone Golden Hurricane win in the series was in the last meeting with Tulsa defeating visiting BYU 55-47 on September 15, 2007. In the seven games, the two schools have combined to average 73.3 points a contest.

Tulsa finished the 2011 regular season by winning seven of their last eight games, including a 7-1 Conference USA West Division mark where the Golden Hurricane finished second to undefeated Houston. All four of the Golden Hurricane setbacks in 2011 were to schools ranked among the top 10 teams in the November 27 BCS rankings (Oklahoma State, third; Houston, sixth; Boise State, seventh; and Oklahoma, 10th).

“We are tremendously excited to be a part of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. It is a first-class bowl against a very good opponent with a storied tradition. Anytime you have the opportunity to participate in an event that honors and represents the United States Armed Forces, it just makes it that much more meaningful,” said Tulsa interim athletics director, Ross Parmley. “This is a great opportunity for our TU family. We’re looking forward to having a great bowl experience in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

The Golden Hurricane will be making their second appearance in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl as Tulsa dropped a 25-13 decision to Utah in the 2006 game at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. In their next three bowl appearances, the Golden Hurricane posted postseason wins at the GMAC (2008 and 2009) and Hawai’i (2010) bowls.

“We are very excited to host Tulsa for the second time,” said the bowl’s executive director, Brant Ringler. “Coach Bill Blankenship’s team features an exciting brand of football and the 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl should be high-scoring, featuring two of the nation’s top offenses.”

Blankenship, a 1979 Tulsa graduate, is in his first season as the Golden Hurricane head coach. He is the seventh head coach in Tulsa history to win eight or more games in his first season. Blankenship was promoted as Tulsa's 28th head football coach on January 14, 2011 after spending the previous four years as a Golden Hurricane assistant coach.

Both Tulsa (454.4) and BYU (410.8) are averaging over 400 total yards per game with the Golden Hurricane averaging 34.1 points a game and BYU scoring 30.6 points per contest.  Two of three BYU defeats this season have been to BCS rank teams on November 27, including TCU (18th) and Texas (22nd).

Tulsa’s offense is led by senior quarterback G. J. Kinne, who has passed for 9,258 yards in his career with 78 scoring tosses while rushing for 1,365 yards and 15 touchdowns. As a team in 2011, the Golden Hurricane has rushed for 204.6 yards per game while adding 249.8 yards per game through the air as Kinne has passed for 25 touchdowns this season.

Sophomore running back Ja’Terian Douglas, who rushed for 173 yards and two scores in the Golden Hurricane’s 59-33 setback to Oklahoma State, is Tulsa’s top rusher with 73.7 yards per game with four touchdowns. Junior running back Willie Carter and junior wide receiver Bryan Burnham are Tulsa’s top pass catchers with 61 and 50 receptions, respectively, with 15 combined scoring catches.

Defensively, the Golden Hurricane are allowing 420.7 total yards and 27.6 points per game. Curnelius Arnick leads the Tulsa defense as the senior linebacker has 142 total tackles to rank seventh nationally.

UCF of Conference USA was the one common opponent on both Tulsa and BYU’s 2011 schedule with the Golden Hurricane and Cougars both defeating the Knights 24-17. BYU’s UCF game was September 23 in Provo to give the Cougars a 43-12-1 all-time record against current C-USA schools.  Tulsa’s victory over the Knights was November 3 in Orlando, Fla.