On Monday, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will cap off a great season by facing the Chippewas of Central Michigan in the 2016 Miami Beach Bowl. The game will be played at 1:30 p.m. (Central) at Marlins Park (34,000 capacity) in Miami, Florida, and will be televised on ESPN.
The Golden Hurricane enter the bowl game with a 9-3 overall record and represent the American Athletic Conference. Central Michigan is a member of the Mid-American Conference and comes into the game with a 6-6 record.
Tulsa had the top two rushers in the AAC this season, as James Flanders rushed for 1,529 yards and D’Angelo Brewer carried the ball for 1,330 yards. In the receiving corp, Keevan Lucas has 1,108 yards receiving, and Josh Atkinson has 927.
If Atkinson goes over the 1,000-yard plateau, TU would become the first team in FBS football history with a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers.
Tulsa’s offense averages 41 points per game, and has scored 35 or more in each of the last six games going 5-1 in the stretch. With three overtime wins on the year, the Golden Hurricane have kept up when they’ve had to, other than a heartbreaking loss to Houston, 38-31.
For Central Michigan, quarterback Cooper Rush has thrown for 3,299 yards with 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. CMU has a potent offense but rarely can sustain it for a complete game.
Local sports fans may recall how the Chippewas pulled off one of the year’s biggest upsets with a 30-27 victory in September against Oklahoma State (9-3). The game ended on a controversial call by the officials.
Oklahoma State was leading, 27-24, and had the ball on what appeared to be the final play of the game, a fourth down. The Cowboys elected to pass but when Mason Rudolph was unable to find a receiver, he threw the ball away. The Pokes were called for intentional grounding. The refs turned the ball over to Central Michigan for an untimed down. The Chippewas’ quarterback found Jesse Kroll for a 42-yard completion. Kroll lateraled to Corey Willis, who ran the ball in the final nine yards to complete the Hail Mary and win the game.
According to the rule book, Central Michigan should have never been awarded possession of the ball because the penalty was on the offense and included a loss of down, an extra play should not have been added. Rule 3-2-3 states, “The period is not extended if the foul is by the team in possession and the penalty includes loss of down.”
The Chippewas lost six of their final nine games and four of their final five.
The last time the Golden Hurricane and Chippewas faced each other was on October 17, 1987. None of the current players were even born yet. Central Michigan won that game, 41-18.
The Golden Hurricane will make their 21st bowl appearance, 10th in the past 14 years. Tulsa lost to Virginia Tech in the Independence Bowl last year.
Central Michigan will make its 10th bowl appearance, their third in a row and their eighth since 2006.
This is only the third year for the Miami Beach Bowl. In previous games, Western Kentucky beat USF, 45-35, Dec. 21, 2015, and Memphis got past BYU, 55-48 in 2 OT, Dec. 22, 2014.