Both the Temple Owls and Tulane Green Wave are red hot entering Week 6 of the college football season. Tulane QB Tanner Lee has bounced back after a rough freshman campaign with seven touchdown passes to just two interceptions and a boatload of confidence.
For the Owls P.J. Walker has shed a pension for making what he calls "the big play" and instead has translated a safe mentality into throwing just two interceptions in four games to go along with six total touchdowns.
Last year, Temple traveled to the Bayou and eked out a 10-3 victory in an offensive struggle. This year, the big-play ability of both teams should translate into a more appealing contest with explosive drives and an abundance of fireworks going off at the Linc.
To give a more in-depth preview of what Tulane could offer Saturday afternoon, we asked Tulane beat writer Tyler Mayforth about a plethora of facets leading up to the game. Follow Tyler on twitter at @tylermayforth.
Jake Hyman: Has Tulane turned the corner this year? They looked impressive last week against UCF.
Tyler Mayforth: I don't think we have enough evidence on Tulane yet to know if it has turned the corner yet. The Green Wave is 2-2 with two of its wins coming against lesser competition (Yes, I am calling UCF inferior to Tulane - at least this season). When the Green Wave "play up," Curtis Johnson's teams look horrendous. This week will be a great test for Tulane since Temple isn't on the same level as Duke or Georgia Tech, but is considerably better than UCF and Maine. Ask me this question again next week and I'll have a clearer answer.
JH: Matt Rhule talked highly about Tanner Lee in his press conference, what has stood out for you about Lee so far in the season?
TM: Tanner Lee passes the "eye test". Lee, a sophomore who stands at 6-4 and weighs 220, looks like an FBS quarterback. He's an imposing figure under center and coaches must take notice. On the field, Lee needs to refine his skill set. His arm strength is average and accuracy is less than desired (only completed 55.2 percent of his passes this season so far). A lot of that has to do with Tulane's offensive line not giving him enough time to throw the ball, but a lot of his throws are either behind receivers or into the ground, which shouldn't happen when you're tall as he is. Lee has a strong rapport with wide receivers Devon Breaux and Teddy Veal, so that's a good thing.
JH: It was a low scoring game last year, will that change as both teams put up 37 points or more last week?
TM: That 10-3 final score last year was a beauty, wasn't it? Yikes! I can see Temple scoring 25-30 more points than last year in this game. As far as a Tulane is concerned, 7-10 is a conservative estimate with 14 on the lofty end. The Green Wave's offense still isn't consistent and really struggles against true FBS defenses.
JH: Who do you think will be Tulane's game-changer Saturday?
TM: The Green Wave needs a big game out of both Dontrell Hilliard and Tanner Lee. If Hilliard is running well, it takes the pressure off Lee. If Lee is passing well, it means that Hilliard and the running game allowed it to happen. If one or both of those things are off, it could be a long day for Tulane.
JH: What needs to happen in order for the Green Wave to pull off the upset?
TM: A minor miracle. I don't want to immediately discount Tulane's chances, but Johnson's team isn't on Temple's level yet. The Owls look strong through four games and the Green Wave has been inconsistent. If Tulane somehow finds a way to take a 10-14 point lead, it might be able to hold on for a win. If the Green Wave gets out to a slow start yet again, Temple runs away with it.
JH: Final score and why?
TM: Temple wins 45-13. I just don't see how Tulane keeps it close. The Green Wave isn't ready to win a game like this yet. I COULD be wrong and Tulane's defense COULD look as good as it did last week and Tanner Lee COULD complete 70 percent of his passes for 300 yards and five touchdowns and the Green Wave COULD put the rest of the AAC on notice, but yeah. The Owls in a rout.