Last week Tulsa was paid $1.03 million to visit Ohio State, this week they’ll have to pay $325,000 of that back when FCS opponent North Carolina A&T comes to town.
Despite their FCS status, The Aggies are a formidable opponent. This was a 10-2 team last year, and NCAT just defeated an FBS team last week. Here is everything you need to know to get ready for this week’s game.
Last year: The Aggies finished the year with a record of 10-2. NC A&T played Alcorn St. in the inaugural Celebration Bowl, and won a crazy game 41-34. That victory crowned them HBCU (Historically Black College and University) National Champions.
This year: The Aggies are off to a great start this season. They played something called St. Augustine’s 62-0 in week 1, and won at Kent State last week in a crazy 4OT game. They are now ranked #19 in the FCS rankings.
Best Players: Senior RB Tarik Cohen got national attention when he rushed for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Celebration Bowl, watch the filthy highlights here. Cohen is a 3-year starter for the Aggies. He has been a 1,000 yard rusher every season, and has over 4,000 for his career! The guy is extremely fast, has tremendous vision, and definitely has “home-run” ability. Cohen is a legit NFL prospect for next year’s draft. Watch for the Golden Hurricane defense to keen in on him. Last week vs Kent State he had 24 carries for 133 yards, including this incredible play:
NC A&T's RB Tarik Cohen is impressive, check out this run he had last week. pic.twitter.com/qC8NrV2c9A
— Reign Cane Sports (@ReignCaneSports) September 14, 2016
Cohin also added 9 receptions for 125 yards. Punt Returner Khris Gardin is also an explosive asset for the Aggies. He was named first-team punt returner in the STATS FCS All-American team, and he had a punt return touchdown in week 1.
Uniform advantage: Everything beats Russell, always. Tulsa definitely has the advantage here.
Uniform prediction: Tulsa is promoting a “blue-out”, so odds are they are wearing blue in this game. My prediction is Gold helmet-Blue jersey-Blue pants.
Preview: NCAT is going to come into Tulsa with a lot of confidence. Their defense has only allowed 17 points in regulation in two weeks, and the Aggies just defeated their first FBS opponent in school history. Cohen really does scare me. I could easily see him stroll into Tulsa, put up 200 yards, and have his highlights shown on Sportscenter all night long. Tulsa’s defense has been great against the run so far this year, but they will need to have a game plan to keep Cohen between the hashes. I felt good about this game before the season starts, but now I am a little worried. Tulsa’s offense has played worse than expected, and the Aggies’ defense has overachieved so far this year.
Before the season, I envisioned a shootout, and I predicted Tulsa to basically score every time they touched the ball. Last week, it was the perfect storm for Tulsa to pull off the upset in Columbus (Until it actually stormed). This week though is good timing for the Aggies to beat their second straight FBS opponent. They are confident, and Tulsa is tired, looking for a break after a tough game last week. It is also a big day for football in Oklahoma, OSU plays PITT at home and OU hosts Ohio State, the athletic department was wise to sell tickets for $5, but with rain in the forecast, the atmosphere is sure to be worse than it was for week 1.
With all that said, this should be a blowout win for Tulsa. With where we want to be as a program, we must defeat FCS teams, and do so by a wide margin. I think that Tulsa’s defense will do a good job containing Cohen on run plays, but I am worried about how we can defend him in the passing game. He is too quick for our linebackers, so perhaps Jeremy Brady or Jordan Mitchell will have a spy on him. This is also a big game for Tulsa’s offense; through two games, they have only scored 4 offensive touchdowns. I’m not ready to say our offense has a problem, but it isn’t as prolific as I thought it would be at this point in the season.
Prediction: If Tulsa is on there A game offensively and defensively early, then this game will be out of reach by halftime. I do think that Cohen will cause some problems for us defensively, but he cannot carry the Aggies for 4 quarters. However, if Tulsa isn’t sharp, and Dane fails to take care of the ball, I could easily see this being a one or two possession game into the third quarter.
In the end, I think that despite their good start to the season, the Aggies’ defense can be exposed. This is the week that Tulsa turns it on offensively. Tulsa wins 52-21.