Location: Yulman Stadium – New Orleans, LA
Date: Saturday, September 14
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Records: Tulane 1-1 (0-0 AAC), MOSU 0-1 (0-0 C-USA)
Betting Line: Tulane -29; O/U
All-Time Series: First Meeting
Last Meeting: NA
Quick Hits: The Green Wave rolls into this game feeling pretty good about things... or at least they should. After a hard-fought battle in Auburn where Willie Fritz’s Tulane team made the Tigers earn every bit of their 24-6 win, people are furrowing a brow at this new-look squad. In years past, the Greenies wouldn’t have stood much of a chance against a team like Auburn but after thoroughly beating FIU on opening night then looking like they belonged in Jordan-Hare, it certainly seems like Tulane has finally arrived in Fritz’s fourth season.
Missouri State is a different story. In 2018 the Bears, led by head coach Dave Steckel, had a disappointing go of it to say the least. After starting the season with such promise, going 4-2 over the first six, MOSU lost out to finish with an unimpressive 4-7 mark. The Bears have only played one game thus far in 2019; a 37-23 loss at Northern Arizona. Unfortunately for Missouri State, things won’t get any easier in New Orleans.
From Missouri State’s Perspective: If there was one bright spot in the Bears’ defeat to the Lumberjacks two weeks ago, it was the play of quarterback Peyton Huslig. The senior tossed for 289 yards, two touchdowns and no picks and will need that sort of performance again if Missouri State wants to stay in this one. Tulane’s secondary, though, has already knocked down eight passes and intercepted one so Huslig will have his work cut out for him through the air.
The Bears’ ground attack may not fare much better as the Green Wave defense has been terrific against the run so far this season. They held FIU’s committee of back to a mere 59 yards and forced three fumbles against Auburn’s JaTarvious Whitlow. That means that the likes of Donovan Daniels and Myron Mason could be in for a long night. The two combined for 16 yards on 20 carries. Those numbers aren’t great and what’s worse is that the Missouri State backs as a whole only put up 40 yards against a fellow FCS school... that doesn’t bode well going into Tulane where the Wave boasts the likes of Patrick Johnson and Lawrence Graham. Graham and Johnson have tallied 12 tackles and one sack over two games.
MOSU’s defense will also have a tall order in front of them as Tulane’s offense has the ability to run at lightning-fast speeds. New offensive coordinator Will Hall has mastered the up-tempo attack and the Green Wave looked deadly running it earlier this fall against FIU. If Justin McMillan, Darius Bradwell and company get rolling, there may not be much the Bears can do to stop them.
From Tulane’s Perspective: I said something very similar about Auburn last week and it rings true here for the Wave: don’t overthink this one. If Tulane sticks to their game plan and doesn’t scoff these guys off before it’s over then they should be just fine.
McMillan could be in for a big day as the Bears defense allowed 351 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air against NAU. Jaetavian Toles, Darnell Mooney and Tyrick James could all see significant targets on Saturday and may all post some big-time numbers. The trio have a combined 222 yards and two scores so far in 2019. The Missouri State defense, conversely, has yet to snag a pick.
For all that may happen from up above for Tulane, they may be poised for an even bigger day on the ground. Corey Dauphine, Amare Jones and Bradwell were all bottled up pretty well against Auburn but I wouldn’t count on the same thing this time out. Dauphine’s first game saw him find the end zone twice and burst out for 76 yards. Bradwell is equally as punishing with 120 yards on the season. To their credit, however, the Bears did only surrender 88 rush yards in their first contest so it’s not a for-sure thing that Tulane’s backs find high levels of success. After a slow night in Auburn, though, it’s probably a safe bet that they have a breakout performance in this one.
Then there’s the Green Wave defense that has been a pleasant surprise early in this season... at least on the tail end. To be fair, we all knew what we were getting with a line and middle that was projected to be one of the best in the entire country. Graham ranks towards the top of the nation in run defense for linebackers this season, stuffing the run over 13% of the time.
It’s been the secondary, though, that has really stepped up and turned heads after losing hard-hitting playmakers Roderic Teamer and Donnie Lewis. Safety Chase Kuerschen and corner Thakarius Keyes have done a terrific job patrolling the back. The duo is responsible for 18 total tackles and an interception. If they can keep up this impressive play then there’s no reason that Tulane can’t walk out of this one with a relatively easy victory.
Final Thoughts: Not to sound harsh to MOSU but what a perfect bounce-back opportunity for Tulane. It’s not a shoe-in, of course, but a home game against an FCS opponent is nice to have before some tough tests against Army and Houston. Like I said earlier, if the Wave just sticks to the plan and doesn’t get too ahead of themselves here then it should be a cut-and-dried win.
Prediction: Missouri State 16 - Tulane 40