The largest crowd Tulane senior nickelback Jarrod Franklin has played in front of was 50,435 at Georgia Tech in 2015.
That’s one of the reasons he can’t wait for the Green Wave’s date with second-ranked, powerhouse program Oklahoma on Saturday at 83,489-seat Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The Sooners packed that place to 104 percent of capacity last season and are guaranteed to get another full house after spanking Ohio State 31-16 on the road this past Saturday.
Never mind the long odds Tulane faces as a 34-point underdog. Franklin wants to soak up the atmosphere.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” he said. “It’s time for each player to step up on our team offensive and defensive wise and see what we can do. We’ll definitely play our hardest. We’ll be ready.”
History says readiness won’t change the result. Tulane (1-1), which lost 23-21 at Navy on Saturday, is 0-12 all-time against second-ranked teams, most recently losing to LSU 34-9 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2007. The Wave has not beaten any top-25 team since toppling No. 9 FSU 34-28 in 1983, a game it had to forfeit when then-quarterback Jon English lost a lawsuit against the NCAA and was ruled ineligible.
Oklahoma (2-0) has not lost to an opponent from a current Group of Five conference since its famous 43-42 overtime affair with Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners have not dropped one in the regular season since falling to San Diego State in 1996.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield, who threw for 3,965 yards and 40 touchdowns a year ago, torched Ohio State for 386 yards and three scores while completing 27 of 35 passes. The Sooners are rolling under first-year coach Lincoln Riley, who moved up from offensive coordinator when Bob Stoops retired in June.
“There are a lot of things they do well,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “They’ve got the No. 1 player in college football player, a really strong defense, are really big up front and physical, they can lock you down and play press coverage and they have a great return game.”
Although the Sooners could be flat for a game in between that monumental victory and their Big 12 opener against Baylor, everyone in the stands will expect them to flatten the Wave.
Tulane’s task is to play its assignments, make as few mistakes as possible and see what happens.
“It’s going to be tons of fun,” defensive tackle Sean Wilson said. “As soon as Navy was over, we’ve moved on. This will be a good game for us because a lot of our guys want to play in the NFL. If you want to go to the NFL, this game is going to show what you can do.”
Tulane likely will be without starting quarterback Jonathan Banks, who left the Navy game in the second quarter with an apparent rib problem after landing on the ball while being tackled.
He threw during individual drills in Tuesday’s workout but did not participate in any team work, taking mental reps instead while sophomore Johnathan Brantley and true freshman Khalil McClain practiced.
Fritz, who did not confirm the nature of Banks’ injury, said he hoped he would be ready by Saturday. The reality is it is a long shot at best, with Brantley likely getting his third career start.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Brantley said. “I like challenges, and this is a big challenge for us. They are very athletic and they are big. We just have to make plays. I think we can do it.”
They will at least give it their best shot.
“It’s a huge measuring stick,” Franklin said. “It’s a gauge of whether we can play with these guys or not. It’s very important.”
The last time Tulane was a bigger underdog was at No. 9 LSU in 2009, when the Tigers won 42-0 as 36-point favorites. … Safety Roderic Teamer missed Tuesday’s practice with a foot injury he suffered in the second half against Navy. Fritz did not rule him out for Saturday. … Freshman Chase Kuerschen and sophomore P.J. Hall practiced with the first team safety in front of Taris Shenall, who started the first two games.
Tulane at Oklahoma
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Okla.