Location: H.A. Chapman Stadium – Tulsa, OK
Date: Saturday, October 27
Time: 6:00 p.m. CT
Records: Tulane 2-5 (1-2 AAC), Tulsa 1-6 (0-3 AAC)
Betting Line: Tulsa -1.5; O/U 50.5
All-Time Series: Tulsa leads 11-3
Last Meeting: Tulane 62, Tulsa 28 (Oct. 7, 2017)
Quick Hits: The Green Wave enter this game in desperate need of their first road win. Coming off a defeat at Cincinnati and a demoralizing loss at home last week, Tulane’s slim bowl hopes are now on life support. On an encouraging note, though, they come into Tulsa with no major injuries.
The same cannot be said for the Golden Hurricane. Quarterback Luke Skipper will not be available on Saturday as he has missed three games with a back injury. Skipper is expected to be out the remainder of the season. On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Reginald Robinson III missed last week’s loss at Arkansas with a hamstring issue. His status for this weekend is questionable.
From Tulane’s Perspective: We come into another game in which there are questions at quarterback and yet those questions don’t seem as pressing this time. Last week Jonathan Banks was in command all day and backup Justin McMillan didn’t see the field. It was a sight that was a bit unusual in New Orleans seeing as the two have been splitting reps as of late. Whether or not it was indicative of who Willie Fritz’s guy is moving forward has yet to be determined but it certainly appears as though Banks should get the nod in Oklahoma. Still, don’t be surprised if McMillan sees some action, especially if Banks falters.
The good news for Tulane is that both have been solid under center this season. Banks is averaging almost 15 yards per completion and just eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark last Saturday. Meanwhile McMillan has only attempted 29 passes on the year but three have gone for touchdowns. He has not thrown a pick.
The success of the quarterbacks can be largely attributed the relief the run game provides. Guys like Darius Bradwell have been a blessing to the offense. The junior running back leads the team with 539 yards and has found the end zone at least once in his last five games dating back to mid-September. Bradwell could have a field day with Tulsa’s defense that is allowing an average of 213 yards and two touchdowns per contest.
If it isn’t Bradwell though, Tulane has a committee of ball carriers that can hurt the Golden Hurricane as well and they use them consistently. Corey Dauphine, Stephon Huderson and Amare Jones have all been vital components of the Green Wave rushing attack. Each has gotten at least 20 totes this season.
Tulane may have a slightly harder time throwing, however, as Tulsa has given up just six passing touchdowns this year (three of those came in one game). Furthermore, the Wave’s leading receiver Receiver Darnell Mooney saw season low numbers last week with only two catches for 16 yards. He and teammate Terren Encalade will be looking to bounce back after Tulane did little through the air against SMU. Encalade was the team’s leading receiver against the Mustangs with 39 yards.
One area the Wave will look to continue their dominance in is at the line defensively. Linemen Patrick Johnson and Robert Kennedy have helped the unit record 18 sacks this season (together the duo accounts for over half of them) and 43 tackles for loss. Tulsa runners could find little room to operate with Kennedy and Johnson in the trenches along with linebacker Zachery Harris flying around the middle.
Donnie Lewis remains a threat in the secondary. Lewis leads the club with three interceptions including a house call against SMU’s Ben Hicks last Saturday. Roderic Teamer will accompany Lewis on the back end. Teamer has two interceptions this season and 36 tackles.
From Tulsa’s Perspective: With Skipper out, the Golden Hurricane will lean on sophomore quarterback Seth Boomer once again. In his three games this season Boomer has completed a mere 35.1% of his pass attempts (27-for-77) and has as many touchdowns as interceptions (two).
Those numbers don’t exactly give Tulsa fans faith that he can perform against a Tulane defense that has intercepted the ball eight times this year. As mentioned prior, Boomer will have to be wary of Teamer and Lewis on the back end if he doesn’t want to up that number.
He will have suitable receivers to throw to, though, in sophomore Keylon Stokes and junior Keenen Johnson. Stokes leads Tulsa with 294 yards and is averaging 13.4 yards per reception. Johnson is just behind him with 275 yards and two touchdowns. These two will be looking to break out against Tulane’s defense that has surrendered nearly 200 pass yards per game.
As far as the running game goes, the Golden Hurricane boast the talents of sophomore back Shamari Brooks. Brooks has racked up 566 yards (leads team) on 140 carries this season and has punched it in six times. He will undoubtedly see the bulk of the work on the ground and his matchup with Tulane’s D line could easily be a deciding factor in this game.
On the other side, linebacker Cooper Edmiston will be trying to keep up is impressive 2018 campaign. Edmiston currently ranks fourth in the AAC with 63 total tackles and on top of that, he has forced three fumbles and nabbed three interceptions. He could make a huge impact as Tulane has a knack for coughing it up. Banks fumbled three times last week.
Special teams has been an adventure for Tulsa this season. Senior kicker Nathan Walker is connecting on just 64.3% (9-of-14) of his field goal tries but has yet to miss a PAT. If this game comes down to a kick, Tulsa may be in trouble.
Final Thoughts: The only team in the American that may be more frantically searching for a victory right now than Tulane is Tulsa. In all reality, the hopes that either have of seeing postseason ball is slim to none at this point but it’s safe to say that whoever loses this one can kiss those fading dreams goodbye. The game could come down to how well that Green Wave triple-option attack performs. If they go stagnant like they did last week then this season may be on ice. If the Golden Hurricane can’t resurrect their passing attack then ditto for them. As far as a prediction goes, it’s really a tossup. I keep putting my faith in Tulane and they keep making me regret it but what the heck, I’ll throw the boys in green one more bone.
Tulane 28 – Tulsa 21