DALLAS — For the Tulsa football program, winning today's Armed Forces Bowl against BYU would be a major accomplishment.
After losing this season to nationally ranked Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Houston, the Golden Hurricane would love to earn a victory on national television over a nationally recognized team like BYU.
"We need a signature win," said first-year coach Bill Blankenship. "We'd like to get our program to the point where winning these games are the ones we're supposed to win."
"We want to take the program to the next level, and one of the ways to do that is to win on a national stage," said senior quarterback G.J. Kinne. "(BYU) is a very good team. It's going to be a tough match. Hopefully we can come out with a win."
Tulsa is also hoping to boost its recruiting efforts with a solid performance. The Dallas-Fort Worth region is one of Tulsa's main recruiting areas. About 20 players from this team hail from Texas, and the vast majority of the Golden Hurricane's recruits comes from Oklahoma and the Metroplex, Blankenship explained.
"I think it's a big, big deal for our young men to be able to play close to home but also for potential recruits to get to see Tulsa in a bowl game in their backyard," the coach added.
Kinne is of those players from this area, hailing from Mesquite, Texas, which is a short drive from SMU. Kinne said he'll have about 100 friends and family in the stands for the bowl game.
"He's got one chance to go out the way he's played nearly all of his career," Blankenship said of Kinne. "For him to be able to do that in the Metroplex is a big deal for him."
SPECIAL BOWL, SPECIAL TROPHY: Brant Ringler, executive director of the Armed Forces Bowl, said one of the major goals of the game is to honor the nation's military.
"Our slogan is 'We're More Than a Bowl Game.' You might ask us why," Ringler said. "You'll see that (today). We're here to pay tribute to the military, to all the men and women that have served our nation and worn the cloth of our nation."
The winning team will receive the Armed Forces Bowl trophy, which was created from melted-down shrapnel and metal from tanks and helicopters used in the war in Iraq. The trophy, which is shaped like a football and rests on a stand, weighs 50-60 pounds.
"It's an honor to be able to play in such a great bowl game," said BYU senior left tackle Matt Reynolds. "When they told us that's how the trophy was made, it just adds a new dimension. Your feelings are a little bit deeper about wanting to win and wanting to put on a good show. There's going to be a bunch of our military at the game. That's a big deal for me."
GADGETRY: BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall knows that teams like to add trick plays for bowl games. And he's especially wary of that because of Tulsa's penchant for gadget plays.
"It's kind of part of their identity already," Mendenhall said. "My guess is that we'll see something we haven't seen yet. We've put an emphasis on it and hopefully that will be enough."
HALL OF FAME: Both Tulsa and BYU are represented in the College Football Hall of Fame when it comes to coaching.
While the Cougars boast LaVell Edwards, the Golden Hurricane sport Francis Schmidt and John Cooper.
Tulsa also has had four former players coach in the National Football League — Tommy Hudspeth, Sam Rutigliano, Ray Rhoads and Lovie Smith. Hudspeth also coached at BYU from 1964-1971, and was Edwards' predecessor.
SMALLEST IN THE NATION: With an undergraduate enrollment of just 3,090, Tulsa stands as the smallest FBS school in the country. By comparison, BYU's undergraduate enrollment is about 28,000.
BLOODLINES: Tulsa's sophomore running back Trey Watts started his career as a walk-on. Now, as a sophomore, Watts is the Golden Hurricane's starting tailback. His father, JC Watts, is a former Oklahoma quarterback.
EXTRA POINTS: BYU sold 3,000 tickets out of its allotment of 5,000, according to BYU associate athletic director Duff Tittle ... Total attendance is expected to be around 30,000 … For the bowl game, Tulsa's helmet features the logo and stripe in camouflage green … Following the game, a free concert will be put on by Gary Sinise and The Lieutenant Dan Band, courtesy of Armed Forces Insurance … Freshman Alex Kuresa has served as BYU's scout team quarterback during bowl practices.