Tulane faces Tulsa on Senior Night on Friday at Yulman Stadium in a game that will mean more to the visitors, which is much like last year. In 2014, Temple came to New Orleans at 5-6 and played with tremendous defensive intensity in a 10-3 victory to become bowl-eligible. Tulane finished 3-9. This time, Tulsa will come to New Orleans at 5-6 with the opportunity to become bowl-eligible for the first time in three years, while Tulane once again will be trying to avoid a 3-9 finish. To have any chance to win a finale for the first time since 2003, the Wave will need to match Tulsa’s intensity. That means slowing down quarterback Dane Evans and a passing offense that averages more than 300 yards and moving the ball against a defense that gives up more than 500 yards per game.
The Wave basically did not show up for its game against SMU. The defense played well for two series, forcing a pair of three-and-outs, before checking out. The offense failed to get a first down after getting the ball inside SMU territory on its first two possessions. The special teams gave up yet another touchdown, this time on a blocked field goal that turned a potential 3-0 lead into a 7-0 deficit. The 49-21 score did not even reflect how bad this performance was. Twice, SMU was backed up to its 1-yard line, and both times, the Mustangs drove 99 yards for a touchdown. SMU had two 100-yard runners and averaged 7.3 yards per carry, when Tulane had not allowed an 80-yard performance all year. Tanner Lee went 9 for 22 for 103 yards before re-injuring his right hand and leaving in the third quarter.
There weren’t any, but honorable mentions goes to former walk-on receiver Larry Dace, who had his first career touchdown reception on a 27-yarder in the second quarter, and running backs Dontrell Hilliard and Sherman Badie, who combined for 157 yards on 21 carries against the AAC’s worst run defense.
“We have to go out this Friday and we have to play inspired and we have to play lights out.”
— Tulane coach Curtis Johnson on the finale against Tulsa
Keep an eye on
Tulane’s dysfunctional offense. The Wave, which has not finished among the nation’s top 100 in yards in any of Johnson’s four years, struggled against SMU’s sieve-like defense, barely gaining 100 yards in the first half. It was painful to watch, with the Wave committing the same litany of mistakes that have been occurring since 2012. Failed blitz pickups? Check. Poor run blocking? Check. Dropped passes? Check. Untimely misfires? Check. The mind-numbing consistency in those departments is remarkable.
The Wave has lost a school-record six games by 28 or more points. …Trying to play with a broken finger on his throwing hand, Lee is 36 for 91 (39.6 percent) the past three weeks. He completed 57.8 percent of his throws before then. His status for the Tulsa game is up in the air after re-injuring it against SMU. … If you didn’t catch it the first time, Tulane has lost 11 season finales in a row. … Tanzel Smart is tied for the team lead with seven tackles vs. SMU, raising his season total to 55. … For the third time in five games, Tulane forced no turnovers.