Start Time: Friday October 27th, 8:00 pm EST
TV: CBS Sports Network
Stream: Watch online here
Live Coverage: tulanegreenwave.com
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
Series History: This is the 33rd meeting between the two programs. Memphis leads (21-11-1)
Betting Line: Memphis is a 10.5 point favorite
Tulane Outlook: The Green Wave is in the midst of a slide after dropping its last two contests to FIU and #16th ranked USF. Tulane had a better performance last week versus the Bulls, nearly climbing out of a 27 point hole before running out of time and falling by six points to the Bulls. The Green Wave needs to build of their second half performance last week, where they outscored USF 21-14, blocked a kick and intercepted a pass in attempting to stage a comeback.
The Green Wave offense will get its chance to go against the nation’s 120th ranked defense in the Memphis Friday night as the Tigers concede over 212 yards rushing per game and another 275 through the air. Tulane quarterback Jonathan Banks is coming off of a season high 221 yard passing performance while running back Dontrell Hilliard added 118 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in the losing effort.
With the weather forecast calling for rain and 45 degree temperatures at game time the Green Wave will certainly attempt to attack the Tiger defense with the nation’s 12th ranked rushing attack (266 yards per game). This game may very well come down to the Wave offensive line and running backs and their ability to run the ball, control the clock and keep the ball away from Memphis’ talented offense.
For the second week in a row the Green Wave will be facing a top 20 offense. While last week’s opponent USF advances the ball via the run, Memphis dominates its opponents via a high octane passing attack. Tulane will be forced to lean on its secondary if the Wave hopes to slow down the Tigers. Fortunately the Green Wave boasts one of the top corners in the nation in Parry Nickerson. The senior was named a Thorpe award semi-finalist earlier this week.
The rest of the Green Wave secondary is also battle tested with senior Jarrod Franklin, juniors Donnie Lewis and Roderick Teamer, while true freshman safety Chase Kuerschen has been playing at a very high level for a rookie. While the secondary has been playing well, Tulane will need a significant pass rush from defensive linemen Ade Aruna, Sean Wilson and Cameron Sample if they are to keep Memphis’ Riley Ferguson from lighting up the scoreboard.
Memphis Outlook: The Tigers are coming off a brilliant comeback victory over fellow AAC west contender Houston. Down 17-0 at the half, Patrick Taylor rushed for four touchdowns in the second half, Tony Pollard returned a kickoff 93 yards for another score and the Tigers scored 42 points in 30 minutes to score the improbable victory on the road. The 24th ranked Tigers are in 1st place in the AAC west and control their own destiny in regards to securing a berth in the AAC championship game, and perhaps the “Group of 5” bowl berth in the College Football Playoff as well.
Three Keys to Victory:
1) Can the “Mayor of Uptown” Parry Nickerson and his backfield mates slow down Anthony Miller and the Memphis passing attack? Miller torched the Houston secondary last week for 10 catches and 147 yards receiving, while the Tigers passed for 470 yards against the Cougars.
2) The Tulane offensive line must dominate the trenches for the Green Wave to be successful. Tulane is the nation’s 12th ranked rushing team, and frankly the Green Wave does not pass the ball very well. When they do pass the ball it is via play action, for which a strong running game is the basis. Couple that with a need to keep the ball away from Memphis’ potent offense and you have the most important key to winning the game for the Green Wave.
3) The turnover battle will be huge. With a prediction of rain and unseasonably low temperatures for Memphis this time of year, ball security will be at a premium. These two teams are both in the top 15 in turnover margin, with Memphis 10th (+8) and Tulane 15th (+7).
Prediction: Memphis comes into this game favored for a reason, they have been a juggernaut on offense this season and the Tulane defense has not been able to sustain a consistent pass rush without blitzing. Riley Ferguson will dissect a defense when given time while the Tigers also have the advantage when it comes to special teams and they are playing at home. The Green Wave have a chance if the offense can control the line of scrimmage and run the ball consistently, but odds are it’ll be another night singing the blues for the Green Wave in Memphis.
Tulane 28 - Memphis 45