Tulane finds out whether it can contend in the American Athletic Conference with a trip to Philadelphia to play Temple, which is 4-0 for the first time since 1974. The Owls are rugged defensively, with senior All-America candidate linebacker Tyler Matakevich leading a unit limiting opponents to 26 second-half points. Temple beat Tulane 10-3 at Yulman Stadium last December in a performance that rendered the sparse crowd comatose. The rematch should be much more interesting, with quarterback Tanner Lee, wide receiver Teddy Veal and a deep group of running backs capable of hurting Temple in a way its first four opponents could not. The Owls struggle offensively, ranking 107th in total yards.
Tulane scored 28 points off five turnovers against Central Florida, rolling 45-31 in a game that was more one-sided than the score indicated. The Green Wave defense manhandled UCF’s offensive line, getting seven sacks and holding the running backs to 11 yards on 14 carries. The Wave had a whopping 12 tackles for loss, three fewer than in the first three games combined. Tulane allowed only one sack while Lee threw a career-high four touchdown passes. Surprisingly, the most heavily-used running backs were fourth option Rob Kelley and fifth option Josh Rounds, who had a career-high 93 yards on 14 carries after touching the ball seven times through three games.
Senior defensive end Royce LaFrance recorded three sacks in a four-play span in the third quarter, keeping UCF from scoring on its opening drive with the first two and forcing a fumble that led to an easy touchdown on the third one as Tulane stretched its lead to 31-10. When he plays like that, the Wave’s defense is dangerous. He had a frustrating start to the season after getting in the best shape of his career, making eight tackles with zero sacks and jumping offside a couple of times.
“Our defensive front just dominated the game. I thought they were dominant all day.”
Tulane coach Curtis Johnson
Keep an eye on
Freshman safety Roderic Teamer, a Brother Martin product. He replaced an ineffective Donnie Lewis Jr. early and made an immediate impact — literally — when he crushed UCF running back Taj McGowan. He thought he had caused a fumble, but the replay official confirmed the call on the field that McGowan was down. Late in the first half, Teamer picked off a pass to set up a touchdown. Look for him to start against Temple.
Six players accounted for Tulane’s six touchdowns — Kendall Ardoin, Teddy Veal, Sherman Badie, Devon Breaux, Kelley and Rickey Preston. It was the first TD of the year for Ardoin, Preston and Kelley. … Tulane’s seven sacks matched the Johnson-era high set against Rice two years ago. … The Wave’s 45 points were its most in a conference opener since the 52 it put up against Cincinnati to kickstart its perfect season in 1998 … In four games, punter Peter Picerelli has dropped two snaps, had a punt blocked, watched one sail over his head for a safety and watched another dribble to a stop near up-back Kelley.