Tulane Green Wave (7-1, 4-0 American) vs Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-5, 1-3 American)
Time and Date: 12:00 PM ET, November 5
Broadcast Network: ESPNU
Location: H.A. Chapman Stadium - Tulsa, OK
ESPN FPI: Tulane, 74.6%
Line: Tulane -7.5*
Point Total: 58.5*
All-Time Series: Tulsa leads the all-time series against Tulane, 13-5
Last Meeting: Tulsa 20 Tulane 13 - November 13, 2021
Current Streak: Tulsa, 2
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Setting the Scene
During the 2020 season, Tulsa were 4-0 in conference play ahead of welcoming Tulane into H. A. Chapman stadium for a pivotal showdown. If the Golden Hurricane beat the Green Wave, they would have a clear path to an AAC conference championship appearance. If Tulsa lost, they would have lost their spot in the AP poll as well as their spot in the championship game. Despite a gutsy performance from Willie Fritz’s squad, Tulane came up just short in 2OT as Tulsa went on to win 30-24.
Two years later, the roles are reversed as Tulane are marching towards an AAC title. Tulane are ranked 19th in the AP Poll and the initial College Football Playoff Ranking. Notably, the Green Wave are the highest ranked G5 team and they need two more wins to guarantee a spot in the conference title game.
Tulane are coming off a much needed bye week after beating Memphis. The 38-28 victory comes with mixed feelings. On one hand, the game was never competitive. The Green Wave exploded for 35 first half points and their defense held Memphis to less than 100 total yards. Given the final score, you can assume that the second half was extremely underwhelming.
Tulane were a bit too careless when they came into the second half on cruise control. Their offense stalled as they tried to run out the clock and only managed three points against a team that was on the ropes. Then, their defense gave up a touchdown on four consecutive drives. If Tulane didn’t pickoff a red zone interception, it would have been 38-35 with an onside kick upcoming.
While the offense and quarterback Michael Pratt have steadily improved over the course of the season, the defense has had two off nights in a row despite their late game heroics. Willie Fritz likely utilized his bye week to try to recapture the lightning in a bottle for the unit that defines this team. Ultimately, Tulsa have a poor offensive line and only one offensive threat. Tulane’s defense should use this week as an opportunity to recapture their momentum. If they are poor again, it is time to raise concerns about how Tulane will look against UCF and Cincinnati in their final weeks of the season.
Phillip Montgomery was hoping for a third consecutive winning season and a contract extension when this season began. Now, he may just be hoping to alleviate comments about his job security. Tulsa could still make a run at a bowl game, but their conference schedule is back-loaded with Tulane at home and then Memphis and Houston on the road.
Unfortunately, the Golden Hurricane cannot think about the big picture with the AAC leaders coming to town. The primary concern for Tulsa at the moment is their defense. This season, the Golden Hurricane’s are the highest scoring game for most of their opponents.
This evidence was on display against SMU. On the first play of the game, SMU’s backup quarterback who was starting his first game burned them for a 75-yard TD on the first play. While things did closer in the second half, SMU scored 24 first half points and could have scored on all their first half possessions if not for a missed field goal and going for it on fourth down at Tulsa’s 30.
In years past, the defense only had to make a few stops while the high octane offense took over. Unfortunately, the offense just hasn’t been there this season and things may only get worse as Davis Brin may miss several games with an injury after going down last week. Montgomery will likely continue to play dual threat quarterback Braylon Braxton. Braxton has played in special option run packages throughout the year and has held his weight when Brin has gone down with injuries. However, this is the best defense Tulsa will face all season and they are going into the game with a backup freshmen quarterback starting his first game.
I can’t imagine a way for Tulsa to win this game. Tulane should be better on offense given Brin’s injury. They are clearly better on the defensive side of the ball. Then, they also had an additional week to get healthy and prepare for this matchup. I am expecting a career day for Green Wave QB Michael Pratt if he remains in the game for the entire duration.
Prediction: Tulane 35, Tulsa 21