Tulsa showed some promise in 2022, including in its win over Houston in the team’s season finale. But the Golden Hurricane also lost six times during a seven-game stretch and ultimately ended the year 5-7.
In Kevin Wilson’s first year as head coach, will Tulsa have a better showing in 2023, especially against American Athletic Conference teams?
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Tulsa Football’s AAC Title Odds
Tulsa’s odds to win the AAC are +5000, via BetMGM.
Tulsa Football’s Over/Under Win Total
Tulsa’s win total Over/Under is 4.5, with Under 4.5 at -115 and Over 4.5 at -105.
Tulsa Football’s Schedule
9/2 vs Arkansas-Pine Bluff
9/9 at Washington
9/16 vs Oklahoma
9/23 at Northern Illinois
9/28 vs Temple
10/7 at FAU
10/19 vs Rice
10/28 at SMU
11/4 vs Charlotte
11/11 at Tulane
11/18 vs North Texas
11/25 at East Carolina
Bold indicates AAC contests.
Malachai Jones Among Returners For Tulsa’s Offense
Quarterback Davis Brin, who threw for 2,138 yards, 17 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in nine games for Tulsa last year, transferred to Georgia Southern. But Braylon Braxton, who threw for 1,133 yards, 10 touchdowns, and two picks on a 56% completion rate while rushing for 145 yards and five scores, is back at quarterback for Tulsa. Quarterback Roman Fuller also returns after appearing in one game last year.
At wide receiver, Keylon Stokes is gone after totaling 1,224 yards and eight touchdowns on 76 catches last year, and Juancarlos Santana, who added 859 yards and seven touchdowns on 53 receptions, are both gone. But the Golden Hurricane do return Malachai Jones, who caught 37 passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns in 2022.
Deneric Prince, who led the team with 729 rushing yards to go with five touchdowns, is now on the Kansas City Chiefs. However, Tulsa added former Oklahoma State running back Braylin Presley and returns Jordan Ford (288 yards on 56 carries) and Bill Jackson (186 yards on 31 attempts).
Tulsa allowed the most sacks (45) in the AAC last year and was among the bottom three teams with 138.7 rushing yards per game. However, the team hopes the offensive line can improve with experience.
Left guard Chester Baah, guard Darrell Simpson, center Will Farniok, and center/guard Tautai Lio Marks are all back after starting multiple games. Right tackle Kai-Leon Herbert also returns after starting in Tulsa’s season opener and missing the rest of the season due to injury.
Tulsa’s Defense Aiming To Make Strides
Tulsa was in the bottom half of the AAC in terms of scoring defense (33.1 points per game allowed) and total defense (414.3 yards per game allowed). That side of the ball will look different this year.
Five of Tulsa’s top 11 tacklers from last year are back, and the team addressed its defense with several additions in the transfer portal.
In the secondary, Adrian Huey (Kentucky), Demarco Jones (Oklahoma State), Keuan Parker (Arkansas), and Kanion Williams (Oklahoma State) are new to the team after previously playing for other Power Five programs. The Golden Hurricane also picked up former Southern Illinois defensive lineman Zaid Hamden and former USC linebacker Julien Simon.
Kendarin Ray is back at safety for Tulsa. He’s the team’s leading returning tackler after totaling 86 tackles last year. He also added five pass breakups, three forced fumbles, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, and an interception in 2022.
Cornerback Tyree Carlisle is also returning. He recorded 44 tackles, two TFLs, and three pass breakups in 2022.
Defensive lineman Joseph Anderson is also back after leading Tulsa with 3.5 sacks. He tallied 35 tackles, 4.5 for loss, and three quarterback hurries a year ago.
Tulsa Football Season Prediction
Tulsa won’t win the AAC and will fall just short of five wins.
The Golden Hurricane’s non-conference slate, with games against Washington and Oklahoma, is challenging. I think Tulsa will be 1-3 during that stretch with a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
And after that, I don’t see the Golden Hurricane having a .500 record against AAC teams. I don’t believe they’ll win against FAU, SMU, Tulane, or East Carolina on the road.
I could, however, see the Golden Hurricane defeating Temple, Rice, and Charlotte at home. The question is whether they can take care of North Texas at home. I’m anticipating UNT will be slightly better in that matchup.
Either way, Tulsa is likely going to have another difficult year.