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Assured of its 11th losing season in 12 years, Tulane (3-7, 2-4 American Athletic Conference) has the tough task of playing at East Carolina (6-3, 3-2). The Pirates and prolific senior QB Shane Carden will be looking to take out the frustration of a last-second loss to Cincinnati that likely cost them a shot at the league title. Wide receiver Justin Hardy needs three more catches to break the NCAA record for career receptions and is coming off a 15-catch, 181-yard performance against Cincinnati. Last year, Tulane held the high-octane Pirates to two field goals through three quarters at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before giving up 27 points the rest of the way in a 36-33 triple-overtime upset. The matchup of the Wave defense, which actually played very well against Memphis, and an East Carolina offense averaging 37.0 points will be fun to watch.

Looking back

Tulane’s passing game fell apart, turning what could have been a competitive homecoming game against AAC leader Memphis into an embarrassing 38-7 loss. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Lee threw two pick-sixes and fired high or low of his targets consistently. His numbers at the end of the third quarter (13 of 30 for 82 yards with three interceptions) told the whole story. Tulane ran pretty well but also lost two fumbles, killing any chance of hanging around. Throw in a botched field goal snap before the half plus a missed 42-yard field goal from Andrew DiRocco, and it was a miserable day.

Saturday’s stars

The defensive line was outstanding, making Memphis look mediocre offensively for most of the night despite the lopsided score. Tackle Tanzel Smart had two sacks on one series, bulling his way to quarterback Paxton Lynch to force a punt at the Memphis 5. End Royce LaFrance registered one sack, two tackles for loss and forced a pair of fumbles. The other starting tackle, Sean Wilson, had four tackles, while backup Corey Redwine added a stop for loss. Smart was anything but delusional when he said “we played really well,” after the game.

Worth repeating

“I still love him, and I just told him the sun is going to come up tomorrow”

— Tulane coach Curtis Johnson on what he said to Lee

Keep an eye on

Tulane’s focus. The players said all the right things after the game, but they have a monumental challenge getting ready for East Carolina. With nothing to play for but pride, they are going on the road in what likely will be a cold-weather game against a team that hung 70 points on North Carolina. Lee needs to rebound quickly, and the defense needs to play with the same intensity it showed against Houston and Memphis. If both happen, the Wave might have a chance.

Lagniappe

After ending a three-year losing streak away from Louisiana, Tulane will try to win two in a row outside the state border for the first time since beating SMU and Rice in 2007. … At one point in the first half against Memphis, Tulane ran 16 consecutive plays without gaining more than four yards. … Freshmen accounted for 101 of Tulane’s 155 rushing yards and 141 of Tulane’s 196 receiving yards. … Memphis punter Spencer Smith averaged 46.9 yards on eight kicks, while Tulane’s Peter Picerelli averaged 37.6 yards on 10 kicks.

Guerry Smith