MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Conference USA champion Tulsa will get another shot at Iowa State when the teams meet in the Liberty Bowl.
Tulsa (10-3) earned its Liberty Bowl bid Saturday by defeating UCF 33-27 in overtime. The Golden Hurricane will face Iowa State, which defeated Tulsa 38-23 on Sept. 1 in the season opener for both teams in Ames.
Iowa State also is scheduled to play at Tulsa next season, so they'll end up meeting three times in barely over a year.
T-R FILE PHOTO
Iowa State running back James White (8) stiff-arms Tulsa’s DeWitt Jennings during their Sept. 1 meeting in Ames.
"There's reason for concern there, but it's easy to overlook that because you're playing postseason football in a great venue, a bowl game with a rich history, the seventh-oldest bowl," said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. "Regardless of the opponent and playing them twice in a year and playing them again on their home turf in 2013, we're thrilled to be bowling against a very, very good Tulsa football team."
The Liberty Bowl has a partnership with the Southeastern Conference, which didn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to send anyone to Memphis this season. Liberty Bowl officials filled that spot in the game by inviting Iowa State from the Big 12.
Iowa State (6-6) won four of its first five games this season, but the Cyclones have gone 2-5 since. Iowa State was picked ahead of Louisiana Tech (9-3) and Middle Tennessee (8-4), who won't be playing in bowl games. The Cyclones are making their first Liberty Bowl appearance since 1972, when they lost 31-30 to Georgia Tech.
54th AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3)
At Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn.
Monday, Dec. 31 2:30 p.m. ESPN
Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart cited Iowa State's fan base, its schedule strength and the bowl's desire to build a relationship with the Big 12 as a few of his reasons for selecting the Cyclones. Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said over 40,000 Iowa State alumni live within a day's drive of the Liberty Bowl.
This marks the fourth time in the last six years that Tulsa has won at least 10 games. The Golden Hurricane will be playing in the Liberty Bowl for the first time since a 31-24 victory over Fresno State in 2005.
When the teams last met, Iowa State's Steele Jantz threw two touchdown passes and Shontrelle Johnson rushed for 120 yards as the Cyclones rallied after falling behind 16-7 in the first quarter. Trey Watts rushed for 125 yards and Cody Green threw two touchdown passes for Tulsa.
"There's no question that Iowa State is well coached and obviously, like us, have gone through transition since we met in the season opener," Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said. "Iowa State has tremendous talent on their football team and played an excellent schedule in the Big 12 conference. Coach Rhoads has done an outstanding job in his four seasons. It will be a great challenge for our football team."