Location: Yulman Stadium - New Orleans, LA
Date: Saturday, November 13
Time: 11:00 am CT
Records: Tulane 4-4 (2-4 AAC), Army 6-1 (FBS Independent)
Betting Line: Tulane -5.5; O/U 47.5
All-Time Series: Tulane leads 12-9-1
Last Meeting: Tulane 42, Army 33 (October 5, 2019)
Tulane will head back to Yulman Stadium for a mid-November match-up with the Black Knights from West Point on the heels their second win in-a-row at East Carolina last Saturday. Army will be playing in their first game in 21 days this weekend against the Green Wave after thrashing Mercer 49-3 at Michie Stadium to go to 6-1 on the season.
Tulane may have finally found the heir apparent to Shaun King in their true freshman quarterback Michael Pratt. While future NFL players like Patrick Ramsey and J.P. Losman have donned the olive and blue since King led the 1998 Green Wave to an undefeated season, it is very possible that when all is said-and-done, Pratt may put together the most impressive career out of any signal caller the Greenies have had over the past few decades.
Black Knights head coach Jeff Monken has put together his best start to a season since he became the head coach at West Point in 2014. While the Army schedule may look light up to this point in the season, this is a team that played college football playoff contender Cincinnati to a one score game earlier this year deep into the fourth quarter. The Army defense limited a Cincinnati team that has averaged 238.5 rushing yards per game this year to only 69 yards on the ground when the two teams played each-other in late September.
From Tulane’s Perspective
Tulane is coming off of their two most complete games of the season over the past two weekends against Temple and East Carolina. In those two games the Green Wave outscored their opponents 76 to 24. Tulane has finally found a consistent passing attack that is led by quarterback Michael Pratt and junior wide receiver Duece Watts. Pratt and Watts have connected for 171 yards and four touchdowns over the past two games. Against ECU last weekend Pratt completed passes to eight different Green Wave players, showcasing his propensity to keep a large swath of his teammates involved in the game-plan.
The star of the Tulane offense last week though was sophomore running back Cameron Carroll. The Flowood, MS native had 129 yards on six rushing attempts to average a staggering 21.5 yards per carry. Since the Green Wave’s top two running backs, Corey Dauphine and Tyjae Spears suffered season-ending injuries, Carroll has picked-up the load for the Tulane running game. On the season the 225 pound sophomore has run for 533 yards, 10 touchdowns, and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Against ECU last Saturday senior defensive end Patrick Johnson became Tulane’s all-time sack leader with 23.5 sacks throughout his Green Wave career. He passed Kenan Blackmon who played for the Greenies from 1999-2002 and previously held the sack record. This is quite an accomplishment for Johnson, especially when considering that Tulane has been playing football since 1893, two years before Babe Ruth was even born. Through eight games Johnson already has nine sacks on the season, which is only 1.5 shy of his single-season high from 2018 of 10.5 sacks. Johnson also currently leads the nation in sacks.
Tulane’s defensive struggles this year can primarily be attributed to their pass coverage. Tulane’s defense has given up 300 or more yards through the air in 50% of the games they have played this season. The defense’s strength lies in its defensive line and linebacker corps. This bolds well for the Greenies against a Black Knights' team that has only thrown for 394 yards through seven games this year. The Green Wave defense will also benefit from having played Navy earlier this year, which runs a very similar triple-option style offense to what Tulane will see against Army.
From Army’s Perspective
The Black Knights will be coming into the Big Easy two spots off of being in the AP Top 25 and ranked 25th in the Coaches Poll. Army’s lone loss on the season was to #7 Cincinnati where the Cadets from West Point gave the Bearcats the most competitive game they have played so far this season. On the offensive side of the ball the Black Knights are led by running backs Tyrell Robinson and Jakobi Buchanan. Robinson a freshman from Floral Park, NY is averaging 8.6 yards per carry. Army ranks second in the nation, behind Air Force who has only played one game, in rushing with 308.1 yards per game. It will be a battle of heavyweights in New Orleans when the Army rushing attack goes up against a Tulane defensive line that has three potential NFL players on it in Patrick Johnson, Cameron Sample, and Jeffrey Johnson.
In their last game against Mercer, Army primarily rotated between two quarterbacks, freshman Case Ballard and sophomore Tyhier Tyler.
Tyler ran Army’s triple-option effectively against Mercer, rushing for 77 yards on ten attempts. While Army relies on their quarterbacks being able to competently execute their triple-option attack in order to win games, Ballard displayed his passing ability and connected with Tyrell Robinson on a 53 yard touchdown against Mercer. Like Navy was able to do against Tulane in September, expect Army to try and surprise Tulane over the top with a few deep shots if the Wave get overly-aggressive stacking the box against the Black Knights’ triple-option.
While Army ranks fifth in the nation in total defense, giving up on average only 275 yards per game, this stat may not be the best barometer of the quality of the Black Knights defense since three of their seven games have been against FCS opponents. In their one game against a quality FBS opponent, Cincinnati, Army was able to limit the Bearcats to 331 total yards. An impressive number considering Cincinnati averages 441.7 yards of offense per game.
The Army defense is led by senior linebacker Jon Rhattigan and junior linebacker Arik Smith. Rhattigan and Smith have combined for 96 tackles on the season for the Black Knights and 4.5 sacks. Rhattigan also has two interceptions on the year. Army will have their hands full with a well-balanced Tulane offense that has put up 30 or more points in each of their last six games. Army’s best shot of slowing down Will Hall’s offense is to limit Tulane’s running game early and force true freshman quarterback Michael Pratt to win the game by beating the Black Knight secondary. Though Pratt has looked impressive so far this year, Army would rather have Tulane beat them through the air than on the ground considering the Wave have the 19th best rushing attack in the nation averaging 230.8 rushing yards per game.
Look for this game to be a high scoring affair, regardless of who wins and by how much. Tulane will be looking to pull above .500 on the year against the Black Knights. If Michael Pratt can continue to execute Will Hall’s game-plan by hitting his receivers on target and using his legs to create plays, expect the emerging juggernaut that is better known as Green Wave offense to carry Tulane to victory on Saturday.
Prediction: Tulane 41 - Army 34