What chance does Tulsa have Saturday against Ohio State?
“We’re going up there,” TU coach Philip Montgomery said Tuesday, “with the mindset to win.”
In reality, the Golden Hurricane probably has about the same chance it had last season at Oklahoma: very difficult, but not impossible.
TU played OU to a 52-38 final last year in Norman. The halftime score was 31-24.
Quarterback Dane Evans passed for 427 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Zack Langer slammed for 161 yards and a TD. Wideout Keyarris Garrett caught 14 passes for 189 yards and brought down that spectacular Hail Mary just before halftime, and fellow wideout Josh Atkinson caught 10 passes for 104 yards and a TD.
TU belonged on the same field with the mighty Sooners.
Now, the Sooners got off, too. Baker Mayfield, in just his third OU start, set a school record with 572 yards total offense and (487 passing, 85 rushing) and six total touchdowns. Samaje Perine rushed for 152 yards and a score. Sterling Shepard caught eight passes for 144 yards.
Ohio State is coming off a 77-10 victory over Bowling Green. Quarterback J.T. Barrett threw for 349 yards and set a school record with seven total TDs (six passing) and was named Big Ten player of the week.
The No. 4 Buckeyes are a 29-point favorite.
So yeah, it’s going to be extremely tough for Tulsa to leave Columbus with a win.
“Well, it’s going to be a great challenge,” Montgomery said. “Obviously, Ohio State and coach (Urban) Meyer have a great program. He’s done a great job wherever he’s been. They are always very well-disciplined. They always execute at a high level and they are doing it with great players.”
The Golden Hurricane scored a 45-10 victory over San Jose State last week at H.A. Chapman Stadium. It was TU’s largest margin of victory in a season-opener against a Division I opponent since 1945. The Spartans averaged just 1.7 yards per rush against the Tulsa defense.
Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. on ABC.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Montgomery said. “Obviously we’re going up there with the mindset that we are going to do what we’ve got to do to win the football game, and in between the lines is where we’ll decide whether that happens or not.”
Some 102,000 Buckeye fans are expected, and it’ll be by far the largest crowd to ever watch Tulsa play. The current record happened last year in Norman, when 85,657 turned out. In fact, the top five crowds ever to watch a TU game were at OU’s Memorial Stadium.
No. 6, however, came in 2010, when 80,795 Notre Dame fans saw the Golden Hurricane shock the world with a 28-27 victory over the Fighting Irish.
Can TU manufacture that kind of magic again — the kind that silences 102,000 scarlet-clad Buckeye fans?
“You know what? You add another 20,000 people, at some point in there, it’s loud, no matter how many people you got,” Montgomery said. “For us, it’s going to be about managing and controlling the things that we can control, and that’s going to happen within the lines. And we’ve got to do a good job of handling those things and not let outside forces, whether it be playing in that environment or whether that be trying to play the name on the shirt, it’s got to be playing the guy in front of you and controlling the things that we can do inside those white lines.”
Montgomery said he’ll allow himself a moment to pause and appreciate his station — but only a moment, and only in pregame.
“I’ll look around the stadium and say, ‘That’s pretty cool,’ ” Montgomery said, “and we’ll move on.”
This will be no sightseeing trip, and there will be no moral victories.
“I don’t want to put on a good show,” Montgomery said. “I want to win, and that’s the name of this game. It’s about Ws, and when we step between the lines, we’re stepping on the field to find ways to win football games and that’s what we’re talking about.
“As far as the national perspective of all of that, I’ll let all of y’all do that. If we go up there and get us a W, then those things will happen. If we go up there and get knocked out, then we’re going to line up next week and we’re going to play again no matter what happens, whether we win or lose.”