Tulane Green Wave wide receiver Terren Encalade (5) out runs Houston Cougars linebacker Matthew Adams (9) for a 64 yard touchdown Saturday, November 18, 2017 at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans.


Don't write the obituary on the Tulane football season just yet.

As for the fanatics on social media who were ready to write Willie Fritz off, hold that thought too.

The Wave ain't dead yet.

Thanks to Saturday's thrilling 20-17 victory over Houston at Yulman Stadium, Tulane's trip to Dallas next Saturday is all of a sudden a whole lot more meaningful.

Fritz's bunch can punch its ticket to a bowl game for the first time since 2013 with a win in the regular-season finale at SMU.

An announced crowd of 19,026 was in attendance on a picture perfect day Saturday, meaning about 11,000 folks (Yulman holds 30,000) missed out on a quality win over a quality opponent.

This was the biggest win of the Willie Fritz era, erasing the bitter taste of the loss two weeks ago to Cincinnati.

Even Fritz, in his second season, knew this one was big, which explains why he yelled "All right" followed by "This feels better than last time" as he walked in to address the media.

Was this his best win since he took over the program a season ago?

"I don't know, it might be the best one," Fritz responded. "We needed a win like that. We have had some tough luck this season. I'm happy for the seniors. Happy for the guys."

This was senior day, which hasn't been kind to the Wave in recent years. The last time Tulane won on senior day, it was still playing home games in the Superdome.

Sending the 10 seniors out with a bang served as motivation.

"That was our emphasis this whole week," said Tulane junior quarterback Jonathan Banks, who gave the Houston defense fits all game long. "To let it all out for the seniors. It's their last year, and we haven't been to a bowl game in I believe six years, so we need to get to one."

Actually, it's been only four years.

For the Tulane players, it probably seems longer.

Some of the seniors who celebrated senior day were true freshman redshirts the last time Tulane went to a bowl game, playing in its own backyard in the New Orleans Bowl.

Now this senior group has a chance to go to a bowl and contribute.

Junior Terren Encalade would've been one of those seniors playing his final game at Yulman on Saturday. But the former Belle Chasse High standout had shoulder surgery his sophomore year and was redshirted, meaning he'll return next season.

Because of Encalade's career day — 186 receiving yards on just 8 catches — the Green Wave don't have to start thinking ahead to next season yet. Encalade's day was highlighted by a 64-yard touchdown with 6:13 left that put Tulane ahead for good. He came up clutch again just a few moments later, hauling in a clutch third-down conversion that put Tulane in victory formation and put the Cougar fans back on Interstate 10 with a loss.

"Every college team, every NFL team likes to get in victory formation," Encalade said. "It's the best formation in football."

Encalade stopped short of calling this the biggest win of his career.

"I just like to win," he said. "I don't rank any wins. A win is a win."

No, this wasn't just a win.

This one meant something.

And now, next week means something too.

Just ask Fritz.

"This will be an easy week to coach," he said.

Indeed it will be.

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.