1. MIRAGE OR NEW REALITY For the first time since 2011, Tulane went outside of the state and won as a large underdog on the road. A 31-24 victory over 17.5-point favorite Houston proved to doubters the Green Wave’s 2-6 start wasn’t the death knell of the 2014 season. Now, in front of a sold-out Yulman Stadium, Tulane will have the opportunity to shape that win from a feel-good moment into momentum starter. Needing three straight victories to avoid its 11th losing season in 12 years, there aren’t any other options for Green Wave players who still speak about the postseason.
2 OLD VS. NEW When Tulane’s offense takes the ball, it will be as close to a men-against-boys scenario that college football has to offer. The Green Wave, led by a freshman quarterback, two freshman running backs, three freshman receivers and two freshman tight ends will face an experienced Memphis defense that starts nine upperclassmen, including eight seniors. The Tigers boast the No. 13 scoring defense in the country, allowing just 18.7 points per game, and have built their success on the defensive side of the ball.
3. REACHING FOR THE TOP Memphis is playing November games with a chance for the conference championship for the first time since losing to Conference USA foe East Carolina in November 2007. At 4-1 in the American Athletic Conference, this is the latest the Tigers have lead their league since 1969 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Although the program claims the MVC title in 1971, Memphis only played three conference games that season and finished the year 5-6. In comparison, Tulane is out of contention for the league championship this season, but flirted with a division crown last year and won C-USA outright in 1998.
4. RIVALRY REVIVAL Saturday’s game marks the start of an annual series between the schools, as both join The American’s West Division next season alongside Houston, SMU, Tulsa and Navy. Memphis carries a seven-game winning streak against the Green Wave, which dates to Tulane’s 37-14 victory in 2000. Last week, Tulane was in a similar position against a future West Division foe and snapped a 10-game losing streak to Houston that dated to 2002.