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Liberty Bowl Preview: Iowa State, Tulsa Rematch

Bowl rematches of regular season games happen with regularity. This is one of them.

Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE

AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Monday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why it exists: In 1959, the athletic director at Villanova thought it'd be a good idea to have a bowl game in Philadelphia. Yes, really. After years of poor attendance and a one-year jaunt to Atlantic City, New Jersey, it landed in Memphis.

The teams: Iowa State and Tulsa

How Iowa State got here: This was a pretty standard season for Iowa State under Paul Rhoads. They got their early season win over Iowa in a manner that infuriates Hawkeye fans, this time it being a thrilling 9-6 barn burner. They also beat hapless Kansas late. They picked up two more Big 12 wins over teams with losing records in conference, TCU and Baylor. The former probably counts as their annual big upset as the Frogs were ranked No. 15 at the time. They had some close scrapes, losing to both Kansas State and West Virginia by one score apiece, and some bad losses, getting blown out by Oklahoma State and Texas. Like I said, it's pretty standard Iowa State fare. Also, they beat Tulsa 38-23 in Week 1.

How Tulsa got here: Quick! What do you think of when you hear "Conference USA champion"? Probably a team that won about 10 games, scores a lot of points, gives up a lot of points, and lost to all of the BCS conference teams it played. Congratulations! You just described Tulsa, for the most part. The Golden Hurricane went 10-3, scored 35 points per game, allowed 24 points a game, and lost to Iowa State (ouch) and Arkansas (double ouch) in BCS conference competition. The defense isn't terrible, though it had its lapses in giving up 42 to UAB and 38 to Marshall. This team runs the ball primarily, as it's 11th in rushing yards per game but 74th in passing yards per game. This game is also its second rematch of the year, as it played UCF in both the regular season and CUSA title game.

College football fans care because: It's something to flip over to if the Sun Bowl goes bad.

SEC fans care because: Rhoads once was an assistant at Auburn? I guess?

Watch this game if...: The Sun Bowl goes bad.

cocknfire's pick: Iowa State 24, Tulsa 19

Line: Iowa State by 2.