COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Tulane at SMU

SMU wide receiver Trey Quinn (18) catches a pass in the end zone for the winning touchdown during Saturday's game at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.

Icon Sportswire/Associated Press photo by George Walker

1. WHAT WE LEARNED

Tulane is bowl-worthy even though it will not go to a bowl. The Green Wave played well enough to beat SMU on Saturday but lost because, depending on your perspective, it came up 1 inch short on the final play — or the replay review official did not have the guts to overturn the call on the field. With no camera positioned where the ball would have been visible on Jonathan Banks’ attempt to score, getting a reversal was a tough ask. But the Wave likely would have won without another unfortunate play earlier. Cameron Sample had SMU quarterback Ben Hicks dead to rights at the Mustangs’ 5 for a third-down sack when the Wave had scored 21 straight points to take a 35-27 lead, but he grabbed his face mask for an automatic first down. SMU scored a touchdown at the end of the drive, and the game went down to the wire.

2. TRENDING NOW

Regrets for the 12 seniors, none of whom will get to play in a bowl during their career. You cannot come any closer than they did, but they will remember how this one got away forever. With Tulane buried after a home loss to Cincinnati dropped the Wave to 3-6, they rallied everyone on the team to play their hearts out down the stretch. Tulane won nail-biters against East Carolina and Houston to put themselves in position to get to 6-6 and was a play or two away from sealing the deal multiple times. And that does not even include the two crucial replay reviews. The first one was an overturn of a fumble return by Rod Teamer caused by senior Rae Juan Marbley on the first possession. The last one, which was not overturned, decided the outcome. It’s rough, and maybe unfair, but Marbley said they would take some solace in the way they fought.

3. FINAL THOUGHTS

Banks had a tremendous game and should be even better as a senior next year, but he made some mistakes down the stretch that kept Tulane from winning. First, he rolled the wrong way of the play design and right into an SMU blitz on a fourth-and-2 and was sacked at midfield, leading to the Mustangs’ go-ahead touchdown. Then he missed wide open receiver Darnell Mooney from close range in the end zone on first down with 13 seconds left. Finally, he tried to run it in on first down when Tulane had zero timeouts left. Whether he got in or not, he needed to throw and give the Wave a chance for a final play, down three points. Willie Fritz said he would have gone for the touchdown on the next snap, which never came.

Follow Guerry Smith on Twitter, @guersmith