TU goes to Miami Beach Bowl

I don’t mean to brag, but I called it. Last week in this column, I predicted the Tulsa Golden Hurricane would play in either the Boca Raton Bowl or the Miami Beach Bowl, in Florida, and on Sunday it was announced TU is headed to Miami Beach.

The Golden Hurricane will face the Central Michigan Chippewas in the 2016 Miami Beach Bowl at Marlins Park (capacity 34,000) on December 19 at 1:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.

“We’re excited to be representing our university, the city of Tulsa and the American Athletic Conference in the 2016 Miami Beach Bowl,” said TU head coach Philip Montgomery. “We’ll have our hands full with an extremely talented and well-coached Central Michigan football team. Coach (John) Bonamego has done a great job with the Chippewas football program in his two seasons.”

Tulsa (9-3) enters the Miami Beach Bowl with one of the nation’s top offenses. The Hurricane ranks sixth nationally in total offense with an average of 522.8 yards per game, eighth in rushing offense (261.8 ypg), 11th in scoring (41.4 ppg) and 40th in passing offense (260.8 ypg).

Central Michigan is a member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), and is headed to the bowl game with a 6-6 overall record. Among the CMU victories are non-conference wins against Oklahoma State and UNLV. The Chippewas average 27.7 points per game, while giving up just 28.2 points and rank 43rd nationally in total defense, holding the opposition to 376.2 yards of total offense.

Montgomery is encouraging Tulsa fans to get their tickets and book their flights for the Florida vacation destination.

“Miami is such a tremendous location for a bowl game, so we hope that Tulsa fans will be able to take a mini-vacation prior to Christmas and support this football team,” Montgomery said.

This will be the 21st bowl appearance in school history for TU and the 10th time in the last 14 years the Hurricane has been invited to a bowl game. It’s the second straight Bowl appearance for Tulsa as the team played in the 2015 Camping World Independence Bowl in Montgomery’s first season as head coach.

The inaugural Miami Beach Bowl was played just two years ago, on Dec. 22, 2014, as Memphis and BYU played a double-overtime thriller that saw the AAC’s Memphis Tigers winning 55-48. The 2015 game, between Western Kentucky and USF, was played on Dec. 21.

Tickets are on sale now at the TU ticket office, and online at tulsahurricane.com. All tickets are priced at $50. Fans will also have the option to purchase game tickets that will be donated to military personnel.

Bowl fan travel packages are available through Spears Travel and will include 3-night air and land packages. Details on travel packages and pregame festivities are available by following the link at tulsahurricane.com/bowl. The Alumni Association will host a pregame party for all Golden Hurricane Fans before the football game.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys will face Colorado in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. (ESPN). The Oklahoma Sooners will play Auburn on Jan. 2 in the Sugar Bowl, in New Orleans, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN).

BOWL PREDICTIONS

I’m not being a homer, but I honestly believe all three of our local teams will win their bowl games. Tulsa has had a remarkable season and certainly a team with one of the top offenses in the country should have a fairly easy time of beating a team that only averages 27 points per game. Although Central Michigan has a tough defense, if Tulsa is operating at full-bore, the Hurricane offense should be able to confuse the CMU defense.

Although OU (10-2) got off to a rough start at the beginning of the season, the Sooners have won nine straight games. OU quarterback Baker Mayfield has thrown for 3,669 yards and 38 touchdowns this season while completing more than 71 percent of his passes. The potent passing game alone should be enough for OU to fly past the Auburn Tigers (8-4).

Colorado (10-3) ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak to qualify for its first Pac-12 championship game, where the Buffaloes lost to Washington 41-10. Oklahoma State (9-3) is led by junior quarterback Mason Rudolph, who finished second in the Big 12 in passing with 3,777 yards.