TULSA — Tulsa’s offense has been explosive all season, and with a Sunday night setting on a national stage, it didn’t disappoint in its 49-19 romp over Central Florida.


TULSA — Tulsa’s offense has been explosive all season, and with a Sunday night setting on a national stage, it didn’t disappoint in its 49-19 romp over Central Florida.
But there was a phase in the game when the Golden Hurricane was in a funk.  
As a matter of fact, it took awhile for them to get going.
The Golden Hurricane, now ranked 18th in the country, got out to an early 14-0 lead.
But, apparently, although the Knights had been struggling to a 2-4 record prior to Sunday, they wanted to show Tulsa they were still the defending Conference USA champions.
If you recall, UCF beat Tulsa twice last year, including a 44-25 decision in the conference championship game.
UCF’s comeback Sunday began with a 62-yard touchdown reception from Rob Calabrese to Brian Watters just 18 seconds after the Golden Hurricane’s second TD.
Daren Daly nailed a 54-yard field goal to cut the gap to 14-10 a few minutes later. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Tulsa fumbled and the Knights recovered at the TU 12-yard line. And within three plays, Calebrese and Watters hooked up again from seven yards and Tulsa trailed 17-14.
The avalanche continued as TU quarterback David Johnson was forced to chase the ball out of the end zone after a bad snap, making it 19-14.
While TU’s defense prevented UCF from expanding on the lead, the offense could not answer because the Knight defense was pumped and got a sack of David Johnson on the final play of the half.
But as a longtime friend of my family told me — in a halftime visit in the stands — that the Golden Hurricane were about to take the game by storm.
And they did.
Thanks to the 70-yard return by Damaris Johnson on the second-half kickoff, Tulsa kick-started itself into a rhythm.
That set up the go-ahead score as David Johnson scored from 10 yards on a keeper to begin a 35-point barrage.
“There wasn’t any panic at halftime,” Tulsa coach Todd Graham said. “I just came in and said, ‘hey, we just have to settle down and execute the plan.’”
Up 35-19 by the fourth quarter, it was clear Tulsa’s offense had taken command.
The Golden Hurricane,  8-0, has chance to go unbeaten.
“That was an exciting game and a big win for us,” Graham said. “I am proud of our players for the team effort. I think the nation got to see whaat Tulsa football is about tonight.
“When you look at the team we totally dominated tonight, they took South Florida into overtime and was driving to beat Miami on the last drive.”
Now, can Tulsa beat Arkansas Saturday in Fayetteville?
The Hogs, at 3-5 overall, are having a struggling season under first-year coach Bobby Petrino. Except for an upset of Auburn on Oct. 11, the Razorbacks have lost to three top 25 teams in routs.
But Arkansas has a power thing on Tulsa in the series. For those old enough to to remember, the two schools used to meet on an annual basis in Fayetteville, with the Hogs often winning.
Tulsa last won at Arkansas in a 9-3 upset in 1976, but the Razorbacks won the next 14 games before the series stalled after the 1990 season. They have only met twice since, with Arkansas getting the best end of those as well — 24-11 in 1993 and 45-13 in 2003. So, that’s 16 straight Hog wins.
Arkansas leads the overall series 52-15-5.
With one of it best teams in a long time, Tulsa has its best chance of getting its first win against the Hogs in 32 years. Will it happen? Or will the Hogs prevail with its command of the series that spans generations back?
If Tulsa can beat Arkansas, it could very well finish with an unbeaten season.