Since September, there have been few teams hotter than the BYU Cougars and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. The former WAC rivals head into their 2011 Armed Forces Bowl matchup on Thursday having gone a combined 15-2 over the season's final two months, winning 12 of those games by double-digits.
Both teams have compiled those records mostly by beating teams who were clearly out-classed. Their two losses, in fact, were to the only two teams they each played that are currently ranked. The Cougars lost 38-28 to TCU -- unranked then but ranked No. 18 now -- back on Oct. 28. The Golden Hurricane -- now ranked No. 19 -- lost much more recently, falling in their regular-season finale to Houston 48-16.
Those losses aside, BYU and Tulsa have both looked very good and done it in different ways. While the Cougars have been more of a defensive team, the Golden Hurricane is very much offense-first.
The Cougars have outscored their opponents by an average of more than 10 points per game and have the 16th best defense in terms of yards allowed per game. Their defense is led by linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who has five sacks, four forced fumbles and 10 tackles for a loss.
The BYU offense, unsurprisingly, is not bad either. Wide receiver Cody Hoffman has been their biggest weapon, with 821 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson have both been taking turns at quarterback, with each eclipsing 1,400 yards passing and completing at least 57 percent of their passes.
Tulsa's defense is nothing to really speak of -- ranked 89th in yards per game -- but they make up for it with an explosive offense that has scored 34.1 points per contest. They are led by a pair of running backs -- Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts -- who each eclipsed 800 rushing yards and quarterback G.J. Kinne, who has thrown for 2,876 yards and 25 touchdowns.
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