3. Not having Zaven Collins really mattered
It gets overblown when it comes to how much the loss of one guy means, but not having – arguably – the best defensive player in college football was a huge deal to the Tulsa defense that still almost got the job done.
The Golden Hurricane D was excellent overall, but it didn’t generate any takeaways for the first time all year. That’s where the Bronko Nagurski Award winner probably would’ve made a difference.
2. Tulsa’s season was still amazing
Tulsa went 4-8 last season after going 3-9 in 2018 and 2-10 in 2017. It’s possible to win at Tulsa – there were two double-digit win campaigns since 2012 – but it’s been hard to maintain any consistency. It was a thrilling, strong year that almost ended with an American Athletic Conference championship and almost ended with a bowl win.
It’s no consolation to lose close games, but it battled hard in losses to Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, and Mississippi State, losing all three by a total of 14 points.
1. Mississippi State closed out with two wins
Don’t look too much further into this than you need to. It was a bad year for the Bulldogs, the offense didn’t work, and there’s a whole lot more to do under Mike Leach, but after starting the season 2-7, the Bulldogs got the O going in a 19-point win against Missouri followed up by a bowl win.
The narrative will be about the brawl, but football-wise, now the program has something positive to build on.