Time/Date: Saturday, September 9 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Yulman Stadium – New Orleans, LA
Spread: Ole Miss (-7)
All-Time Series: Ole Miss leads, 44-28
Last Meeting: Ole Miss 61, Tulane 21 – September 18, 2021
Current Streak: Ole Miss, 12 (1989-2021)
Setting the scene
One of only two matchups between ranked teams (the other being #11 Texas at #3 Alabama), all eyes will be on NOLA Saturday afternoon as the Green Wave look to avenge their 40-point loss from two seasons ago in Oxford. Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt, a sophomore at the time, completed only 10 passes for a total of 166 yards. The Rebels’ offense put up a whopping 707 yards on the debilitated Tulane defense that year.
But Tulane has no plans to party like it’s 2021 – the Green Wave are coming off a dominating 37-17 win over South Alabama in the season-opener, proving they deserved the program’s first-ever preseason ranking.
Not to be left out of the fun, Ole Miss downed Mercer 73-7 in the Week One matchup, setting a new single-game passing record with 524 yards (breaking the previous record of 517 against ULM in 2018).
It’s going to be a scorcher at the sold-out stadium.
The Green Wave have a very real chance of exacting some swift revenge on the Rebels on Saturday. If Pratt remains precise, his decision-making near perfect, and Tulane’s defense puts a kibosh on the Ole Miss air raid by breaking on through to the other side of the Rebels’ stout offensive line. Tulane was able to force five turnovers last weekend thanks to the pass rush led by Patrick Jenkins and if they can continue that trend, it will be a long day for Jaxson Dart & Co.
Tulane will be without linebacker Corey Platt Jr., who led the team with 15 total tackles and contributed one sack, so Jesus Machado and Tyler Grubbs will need to step up in his absence. The Rebels will be gunning for Pratt, so expect to see some creative play-calling from dynamic OC Slade Nagle, including some pivotal hand-offs to running backs like Makhi Hughes and Shedro Louis.
It is expected to be 90 degrees at kick-off with 48 percent humidity, so conditioning will play a major role in this matchup. And Tulane gets the special teams nod with redshirt senior kicker Valentino Ambrosio leading the charge.
Ole Miss Outlook
The Rebels return to New Orleans for the first time since 2012 and head coach Lane Kiffin knows this Tulane team is not one you want to mess with.
“I’m not worried about evaluating, I’m worried about trying to go beat a top-25 team,” said Kiffin in his weekly press conference. “This is not an evaluation game. Going on the road for the first time with this team into one of the hottest teams in the country and probably the hottest quarterback in the country. I would actually like another evaluation game, but that is certainly not what this is.”
There’s not a lot to learn from the Rebels’ win over Mercer that we didn’t already know. Tulane’s secondary will need to contain wide receivers Tre Harris and Jordan Watkins, the offense will need to avoid freshman linebacker Suntarine Perkins and sophomore defensive tackle Zxavian Harris and the offensive line will need to keep Preseason All-American running back Quinshon Judkins in major check.
I’ll tell you why I like Tulane in this game – the heat, the home field advantage and the heart.
Tulane’s 2022 season gave the program a kind of confidence you can’t coach, recruit or Tweet your way to. They know they can win big games because they’ve done it before. And playing at Yulman is hard – a sold-out Saturday stadium in New Orleans will not be kind to Ole Miss. But the biggest factor will be conditioning, and no team has a better strength and conditioning coach than Tulane. Kurt Hester is a big part of the Green Wave’s recent rise and there is no doubt he will have his players ready to ride.