Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 was the biggest win the Golden Hurricane football team has had since 1996. While Tulsa beat the number 11 ranked UCF Knights 34-26, it did not always look like Tulsa would win. At the end of the first quarter, the Knights were up by fourteen points, and with two minutes left in the first half, the Knights had increased their lead to eighteen. However, the rest of the game had some of the best football that the Golden Hurricane has played in a long time. The comeback started with a 48-yard pass by Zach Smith to Josh Johnson just before the halftime break. This gave Tulsa the momentum it needed going into the break, since the Knights’ lead was cut down to only 11 points. Immediately after the break, Tulsa recovered a UCF fumble on the opening kickoff and the very next play, Zach Smith had another impressive pass, this time 34 yards, to Sam Crawford Jr. for another touchdown, cutting the UCF lead down to four. Two touchdowns and a field goal later, the Golden Hurricane had the win. Several days later, the awards started coming in for Zach Smith and the Golden Hurricane.
On Monday, Smith was named one of the The Manning Award’s “Stars of the Week,” put on by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Every week, the Manning Award names eight quarterbacks as its “Stars of the Week,” and fans can go to the Allstate Sugar Bowl Facebook page to vote on who they think had the best performance in the past week. Whomever receives the most votes before Thursday of the week following their performance earns the accolade.
Also on Monday, Smith was Nominated for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award’s Great 8 List for week five of the college football season. Every week the Davey O’Brien National Selection Committee, consisting of journalists, commentators, boraddcastors, and former winners, reveals their National Quarterback Award’s Great 8 quarterbacks list. As a result of being added to this list, Smith was also added to the Davey O’Brien Award’s Midseason Watch List. As of now, he is eligible to be voted as a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Year Award.
On Tuesday, Smith received an honorable mention selection to the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week. The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week recognizes those football student athletes who meet one of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four-year Division I Texas college. Smith, from Grandview, Texas, meets the qualifications for this award.
In addition to the individual awards for Smith, the entire Tulsa team was named Football Writers Association/Reveal Suits National Team of the Week. The Football Writers Association of America’s National Team of the Week was created in 2002 as part of the Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll. Every week during the regular season since then it has been awarded by various committees that have included members of the FWAAA All-American Committee, the association’s board of directors, and its past presidents.
Tulsa’s win over UCF also snapped a 21-game home winning streak by UCF. Before Saturday, their last home loss was on Nov. 19, 2016 against Tulsa. This was also Tulsa’s first win against a top 25 team since they beat Hawaii 62-35 in the 2010 Hawaii Bowl, and their first win against a top 15 team since 1991, when they beat number 15 Texas A&M. The last time that Tulsa beat a team of a higher rank than 11 was in 1976, when they beat number 7 Arkansas by a score of 21-20. Going forward from here, Tulsa plays number 11 Cincinnati in Tulsa’s first home game of the season on Oct. 17 at 11:00 a.m..