Opponent: Tulane Green Wave (3-3, 1-1 AAC)
Head Coach: Willie Fritz (second season)
Famous Alumni: Newt Gingrich, Justice Stephen Breyer, Lauren Hutton, Jerry Springer, and of course....the great Shaun King.
Date/Time: Saturday, October 21st, 7:00 p.m. ESPN2
Series History: Amazingly, this marks the first-ever meeting between USF and Tulane despite being in the same conference TWICE. (Conference USA 2003-2004, and now The American 2014-current)
The Green Wave have not beaten a ranked team since 1984 and this is sure to be the biggest game in the Willie Fritz era to this point. Unfortunately for Tulane, there may have been a “looking ahead” situation last week when they traveled to Miami and lost 23-10. To FIU, that is. That loss certainly took a bit of the mustard off this contest where USF has a chance at being tested for the first time all season.
Here’s a closer look at the numbers.
Tulane has been developing a fairly one-dimensional option offense under the direction of junior quarterback Jonathan Banks. To this point, Banks has passed for 502 yards and four touchdowns while adding 267 yards on the ground with three scores.
The Green Wave rushed for over 200 yards last week in that loss against FIU, but only totaled 36 passing yards. They rank 84th in total offense in the FBS. Senior running back Dontrell Hilliard leads the charge in the run game for Tulane and it’s really their primary mode of moving the ball. Hilliard has 607 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Of course with the Bulls impressive turnaround on run defense, allowing one of the nations lowest running success totals, handing it off to Hilliard wont exactly be a recipe for an upset for Tulane.
Tulane has only one wide receiver with double digit receptions this season and that’s junior Terren Encalade (15 receptions for 218 yards). If the Green Wave have any shot against USF they will have to figure out some kind of threat in the air because it’s non-existent right now.
The Green Wave defense has been certainly been a bright spot and very impressive at times. Outside of allowing 56 points in a loss against Oklahoma, the Wave defense hasn’t given up more than 28 points in any other game.
Tulane is actually tied for ninth in the FBS in turnover margin, totaling four recovered fumbles and seven interceptions at the midpoint of the season. The #1 team? USF.
Senior cornerback Parry Nickerson is a stud for the Green Wave. Nickerson has 33 tackles and three interceptions this season. For his career? Three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one blocked kick, 10 interceptions and 23 pass break-ups.
Tulane has attempted a league-low (by a lot) TWO field goals this season. Amazingly, they were both made by a different kicker. Sophomore Merek Glover connected from 35-yards last week and has made 14/15 extra points. Freshman Coby Neenan hit one from 22-yards and has been successful on just 5/8 extra points.
I do believe this will be one of the better defenses USF has seen this season, and maybe the option offense throws the Bulls off for a quarter or two. New Orleans has been hyping this game around town quite a bit and it should be a near capacity crowd at the 32,000 seat on-campus Yulman Stadium.
I also believe with the likes of Auggie Sanchez, Deatrick Nichols and Mazzi Wilkins continuing to play lights out, the USF defense has the advantage over a stingy Tulane offense. The Bulls can, will, and should score more points than the Green Wave. Not a blowout, but not necessarily a nail-biter.
USF 35 Tulane 17