Bowl games typically avoid rematches of regular season games. But the Liberty Bowl saw that taking the best available at-large team - Iowa State - was the right way to go, even though it creates a rematch with Conference USA champion Tulsa.
The Liberty Bowl will kick off at 2:30 p.m. central time on December 31. It will be televised nationally on ESPN.
The Cyclones defeated Tulsa, 38-23, in Ames back on September 1. ISU went on to finish the season at 6-6 while the Golden Hurricane went 10-3. That included an overtime win over Central Florida in the C-USA title game. The C-USA champion automatically goes to the Liberty Bowl.
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The Memphis-based game had a void to fill since the SEC could not provide a team. Iowa State was available after Oklahoma got bumped from the BCS tier of games and the Cyclones became the ninth team in a scramble for eight Big 12 bowl spots. The last Big 12 affiliated bowl to choose - the new Heart of Dallas Bowl - opted for Oklahoma State over ISU. That freed the Cyclones up to become an at-large team and take an invite from the Liberty Bowl.
It will be Iowa State's second appearance in the Liberty Bowl. The first came 40 seasons ago when ISU lost to Georgia Tech, 31-30, on Dec. 18, 1972. In that game, the Cyclones scored a touchdown with 1:36 to play to pull within one point. Johnny Majors, in his final game as Iowa State's head coach, opted to go for a two-point conversion and the win. But the conversion pass failed and the Cyclones lost in their second bowl appearance ever.
In this season's first meeting with Tulsa, Iowa State jumped out to a 7-0 lead but then gave up 16 straight points to trail the Hurricane by nine. ISU then went on a 24-point scoring run for a 31-16 lead through three quarters. Tulsa had the ball late, trailing the Cyclones 31-23, but Deon Broomfield picked off a pass and returned it to the Tulsa 5-yard line.