Tulane (1-3) plays at new Big Ten member Rutgers (3-1), which upset previously unbeaten Navy 31-24 on Saturday while rolling for 284 yards on the ground. However, Rutgers lost leading rusher Paul James for the season with a torn ACL suffered Saturday.
The Green Wave has not beaten a “Power Five” conference team since its last trip to Rutgers in 2010, when it stunned the Scarlet Knights 17-14.
Under third-year coach Kyle Flood, Rutgers has been shaky offensively. It scored 17 or fewer points in six of its last eight games a year ago and lost 13-10 to Penn State this season while finishing with fewer than 300 yards.
Quarterback Gary Nova is no running threat and an inconsistent passer (24 TDs, 20 INTs the past two years). The defense, though, is tough against the run. Tulane QB Tanner Lee will need to be sharper than he was against Duke for the Wave to have a chance.
Tulane lost to Rutgers 24-12 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Curtis Johnson’s first game as Tulane coach in 2012.
Multiple mistakes sabotaged any hopes the Wave had of hanging with Duke for four quarters.
Lee threw two terrible interceptions — one that killed a drive deep in Duke territory when Tulane trailed 19-7, and another that was returned for a touchdown as the Blue Devils went ahead 40-13. The special teams were an abomination, handing 16 points to Duke (bad snaps, muffed punt) while taking seven off the board (missed extra points, short field goals not even attempted). Tulane also committed 13 penalties for 92 yards.
The defense played fairly well after allowing TD drives on Duke’s first two possessions, forcing the Blue Devils’ first two turnovers of the season.
Running back Lazedrick Thompson had a career-high 124 yards on 19 carries after entering with a 2.6-yard average. He has been a practice demon this year and last but rarely translated that ability into games until Saturday. He is a physical, straight-ahead runner who provides the perfect complement to swift redshirt freshman Sherman Badie.
“Duke is where we want to be in a couple of years.”
— Tulane coach Curtis Johnson
Keep an eye on
Anything and everything related to special teams.
Backup snapper Matt Marfisi, in for an injured Mike Lizanich, sent the ball well over punter Peter Picerelli’s head for a safety in the first quarter. Freshman Andrew DiRocco added a botched extra point to a résumé that included three missed short field goals. Freshman Teddy Veal muffed a punt that led to Duke’s clinching TD when Tulane trailed 26-13. Freshman Dontrell Hilliard had kickoff returns of 5, 9, 12 and 12 yards.
Tulane has lost 16 in a row outside of Louisiana. … The Wave defense has forced at least two turnovers in 13 consecutive games. … With a game-high 12 tackles, linebacker Nico Marley took over Tulane’s lead for stops (34) this season. … Lee’s nine interceptions are the most for any quarterback in the country. … With 372 penalty yards, Tulane ranks third-to-last out of 125 FBS schools.