December 28, 2010

Looking back and looking ahead

The 2010 Tulsa football season played out like a sports movie, complete with obstacles, confrontations, triumphs, intriguing characters and, of course, a happy ending.

It should lead to increased expectations and perhaps the accomplishments to match in 2011. Tulsa returns most of the leaders and top playmakers from a team that started slow, but finished with seven straight wins.

Tulsa's young team forged a winning formula after the first month of the season, relying on an explosive offense and a defense that surrendered plenty of yards -- and sometimes points -- but generated turnovers.

In no game was that more apparent than the season finale, the Hawaii Bowl. Tulsa forced six Warrior turnovers to beat a ranked Hawaii team, in its own stadium, 62-35. It was one of the big upsets of the early bowl season.

"For us, it was just motivation," Tulsa linebacker Curnelius Arnick said about the Hawaii Bowl. "We always hear about how bad our defense is and it just motivates just to come back and play harder."

Tulsa coach Todd Graham went from having fans question his ability at the beginning of the season, to another season with double-digit wins. The Golden Hurricane has had eight seasons of at least 10 wins in its history. Three have come in the past four years, while Graham has led the program.

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