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Tulsa, UCF Compete for CUSA Championship

Cody Green and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will hope that recent victories over UCF translate to a C-USA championship on Saturday.

Central Florida travels to H.A. Chapman Stadium on Saturday to face Tulsa in the Conference USA Football Championship Game.

Tulsa (9-3, 7-1 C-USA) will be looking to win its first conference championship since 2005 while UCF (9-3, 7-1 C-USA) will be hoping to repeat the success of 2010.

The two sides have been the cream of the crop in the conference this season, traversing conference play with just one loss apiece.

Tulsa’s one conference loss this season came at Southern Methodist last weekend. UCF convincingly defeated SMU 42-17 earlier in the season suggesting the Knights may now hold an advantage, but the Golden Hurricane has already wrapped up the West Division before visiting the Mustangs.

In fact, Tulsa wrapped up the division with a win over UCF the previous week. Not only did the 23-21 victory at home to the Knights wrap up the division, it also gave the Golden Hurricane home field advantage in this afternoon’s championship game. Tulsa is therefore at an advantage going into the game, as is reflected in the betting lines.

In that game (Nov. 17), Tulsa put together a balanced attach, passing for 252 yards and three touchdowns, and rushing for 209 yards. The Golden Hurricane defense held strong also, limiting the Knights to 169 yards through the air and 66 yards on the ground. Those 66 rushing yards came from a team averaging 182 rushing yards per game.

The Tulsa defense limited UCF to a 2-yard Latavius Murray rushing touchdown and a 21-yard strike from Cody Green to Breshad Perriman. The Knights’ defense returned an interception for a touchdown also, but the21 points were well below the 35.9 averaged by the Knights this season.

The Knights’ defense had something of a good showing also. As well as A.J. Bourne’s pick six, the Knights limited the Golden Hurricane to 23 points, more than 12 points below Tulsa’s average for a game, despite giving up 461 yards total, almost the exact figure Tulsa averaged on the season (462.3).

The two sides now meet for the second time in three weeks and the third time in the Conference USA Football Championship Game.

The two sides met in the 2005 championship held at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., a game that saw the Golden Hurricane defeat the Knights 44-27. The game was a lot closer than the final score suggests; UCF managed to claw back an early Tulsa lead to head into the locker room at halftime down 31-27. Tulsa took charge in a tough second half, scoring 13 unanswered to take the victory.

The two would meet again for the 2007 championship at Bright House Networks Stadium. This time it was UCF’s turn to use a second-half surge to win the game. After leading 31-23 at halftime, the Knights scored 13 points after the break. Tulsa was only able to manage a safety.

The 2012 installment will be each side’s fourth appearance in the CUSA Championship Game. In addition to the two games against each other, Tulsa fell to East Carolina in 2008 while UCF defeated SMU in 2010.

Tulsa will have a distinct advantage heading into kickoff; the Golden Hurricane has defeated the Knights in three straight games and in four of six contests all time. UCF has not beaten Tulsa since the 2007 championship game.

The point spread opened at one in favor of Tulsa. That advantage has since risen to three points.

Tulsa has a 7-5-0 ATS record this season. UCF is 6-6-0 ATS.

The over/under is 54. Four of the six head-to-head meetings between the two sides have seen exceeded the 54-point mark, including both championship games. However, the last two meetings have both finished below 54 (44 and 41 respectively), so taking the under could be the smart bet.

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