Tulane Oklahoma Football

Tulane running back Dontrell Hilliard takes a handoff from quarterback Johnathan Brantley during the first quarter of Saturday's game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. Hilliard scored a touchdown on the play.

Associated Press photo by Mitch Alcala


Tulane came to play rather than just enjoy the atmosphere of an 85,000-seat stadium. Although the Green Wave wore down as Oklahoma flexed its awesome offensive muscles, Tulane hit the Sooners hard for most of the first half, running right up the middle with consistency. There was no satisfaction on the scoreboard by the end, but Tulane sent a message by scoring go-ahead touchdowns on long drives the first two times it had the ball and getting into scoring range again the next time before a pick-six stopped the momentum dead. There won’t be any more Oklahomas on the schedule. Starts like that will pay off in the future.


The players who weren’t intimidated by the atmosphere will benefit from the success they had against the Sooners. Running back Dontrell Hilliard was very sharp early, rushing for 86 yards on 15 carries in the first half. Wide receiver Terren Encalade had only one catch for 22 yards but was open a few other times when the quarterbacks could not get him the ball. Young defensive back P.J. Hall made two outstanding plays in a row near the goal line. The Sooners rarely challenged standout cornerback Parry Nickerson. Defensive end Luke Jackson had an effort sack. If they keep playing this way, the wins will come.


Tulane will need good quarterback play for all four quarters against Army. Johnathan Brantley started well against Oklahoma but was not the same player after his game-turning pick-six in the second quarter, ultimately succumbing to cramps in the second half. Coach Willie Fritz said he was not sure regular starter Jonathan Banks (upper-body injury) would be ready for the Army game, and the temptation is strong to rest him through the bye week that follows. If Tulane gets the Brantley who began the Oklahoma game with poise and panache, it will be in good hands. If not, the offense tends to ground to a halt.