There is a current hope among the Cyclones that defenses might overreact to Quenton Bundrage's second half against Iowa, when the sophomore receiver hauled in three touchdowns on three different routes — the curl, the corner, the slant — as Iowa State staged a furious, futile comeback.
Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads said Monday he was hopeful Bundrage's performance has the ability to alter a defensive game plan, if said defense refocuses its efforts around stopping the one player. Fellow wideout Justin Coleman, naturally, would like Bundrage to open up space in the secondary.
Coleman also joked he wished nobody could have seen Bundrage's three-touchdown effort against Iowa and he could run wild against a naive Tulsa.
Which is more likely?
To expect Bundrage to constantly face double coverage is not at all realistic, even if Tulsa will focus on him more than any other Cyclone, likely by rolling a safety over to Bundrage's side for help.
Last season in college football, 37 players caught three touchdowns in one game. Only five of those players were repeat offenders: Stedman Bailey, Cody Hoffman, Justin Hunter, Allen Robinson and Eric Ward. It's not the norm to put up such dominating numbers; defensive coordinators won't risk everything just to keep somebody from doing it.
The best bet is a mix of lots of different looks. Tulsa loves to zone blitz, or flash defenders at the line of scrimmage and then have ends drop into the flats, so don't count on ISU quarterback Sam Richardson having too much time to hit vertical sideline routes. The Golden Hurricane is smart enough to know one cornerback on an island with Bundrage won't work; it's also smart enough to know it's not necessary to double-team him.