Temple and Tulane are meeting in their season finale at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. For Temple the game represents their final chance to gain bowl eligibility after starting the season 4-1. Tulane, at 3-8, is playing the role of spoiler, and can finish their season on a high note with a victory.
For Tulane to play spoiler, they're going to need to be on their "A" game. Underdog Dynasty Tulane writer Ryne Hancock also contributed a couple keys to victory for the Green Wave.
1. Tanner Lee has to make few mistakes.
Although I believe Lee has the potential to be a great quarterback, more so in the vein of Memphis QB Paxton Lynch, he's gotta manage the game if the Green Wave wants to win. The good thing is he's been pretty solid at home.
2. Force turnovers.
Parry Nickerson, Sam Scofield, and Lorenzo Doss are solid shutdown corners. This is a relentless defense the Owls are facing on Saturday in New Orleans.
3. Ball out.
I know its cliche but a win in the season finale can set the table for 2015. Green Wave has nothing to lose so why not ball out in Yulman on Saturday?
For Temple, it's almost identical. They're playing for their season Saturday night, and by hitting these three notes, they should achieve bowl eligibility:
1. Avoid Turnovers
Turnovers have plagued Temple's offense all season, with P.J. Walker showing a tendency to commit them at the most inopportune times (not that there's really an opportune time for them). Tulane's defense is not unlike Temple's in that they both create a substantial amount of turnovers. Tulane ranks 12th in the nation with 27, only two behind Temple's 29--good for a sixth place tie nationally.
If Walker and Temple are able to avoid giving the Green Wave the ball, especially in their own territory, they should avoid having their season ended in New Orleans. However, Temple has averaged around 3 turnovers per game on the road, while Tulane has averaged about the same number of takeaways at home. If the Owls commit 3 or more turnovers this weekend, I don't see them escaping with a win.
2. Not Stall in the Red Zone
This one might shape up to be a tougher hill to climb. The Owls have the number 117 red zone offense in the country right now, while Tulane's red zone defense is the 6th best. They haven't been all that successful on offense by any metric, but this is where they have been their absolute worst. If they can only move the ball between the 20s, as has been their problem all season.
3. Just score enough
The good news is Tulane's offense hasn't been any better than Temple's, and the Owls still rank among the best defenses in the country statistically. The front seven of Temple's defense have been a tough chore for their opponents all season, even those that had Temple heavily outclassed. Tulane's offense will be one of their less daunting tasks in the last few weeks and it presents a great opportunity for them to make life easier on the offense by holding Tulane to a small number. Temple shouldn't need to score a ton to win this game if their defense plays up to their potential.
Temple 17, Tulane 10
I don't foresee a high-scoring match between either of these teams with the way they have struggled on offense this season. I think with bowl eligibility on the line, Matt Rhule will have the Owls as sharp as they are going to be this season. While that might not mean they will be any good on offense anyway, I think they will bring enough to win on Saturday.