The Golden Hurricane, who finished with an 11-3 record en route to winning the Conference USA Championship game and the Liberty Bowl in 2012, are a 3 ½- point underdog.
The Falcons went 8-5 and earned a berth in the Military Bowl last season.
Cody Green and the TU offense will be faced with a task. The Bowling Green defense was one of the tops in the nation last season. It was sixth in total yards, 10th in scoring and 11th in sacks.
“These guys know how to play football and they‘ve done very well at it,” Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said.
“This is a very prolific pressure defense,” Blankenship said. “Not like the kind we played a year ago.”
Key players in the Falcons’ defense consist of linebacker Gabe Martin (6-1, 229, junior) and strong safety Jerry “Boo Boo” Gates (5-11, 219, senior).
Bowling Green’s offense will have an advantage over the Hurricane defense when it comes to experience. The Falcons have as many as nine starters back to its unit, while TU just has its linebackers back.
“They are creative and complex with formations and matchups,” Blankenship said. “They’ll give you a bit of situations where it is the unusual set.”
The Falcons are laced with two big physical wide receivers in Chris Gallon (6-2, 223, sophomore) and Shawn Joplin (6-2, 2-9, senior).
“This is a veteran ball club we are going to play,” Blankenship said.
Tulsa will be without the services of safety DeMarco Nelson (6-0, 192, senior) Thursday night.
The school announced Tuesday that he will sit out the opener at Bowling Green due to being academically ineligible to compete per the NCAA’s Progress Towards Degree Requirement.
Nelson’s eligibility for the remainder of the season is pending review after an appeal was submitted by the University Tuesday. He is a four-year senior from Glenpool, Okla.