Tulane 31, Houston 24: Three and out _lowres

Associated Press/Houston Chronicle photo by CODY DUTY -- Tulane safety Sam Scofield celebrates an interception of a pass intended for Houston running back Ryan Jackson, left, during the first half of Saturday's game at TDECU Stadium.


Tulane can compete with anyone in the American Athletic Conference. Houston may not be the best team in the league right now, but it’s as talented as any program the league has to offer. Tulane didn’t play well above its head or put together a flawless game. It played well and took advantage of Houston’s mistakes, but its athletes matched up — and a week after being nearly run off of the field by Cincinnati in a 38-14 loss, the Green Wave made a profound statement that its program is more talented than in the past.


Tanner Lee. The redshirt freshman is the Green Wave’s quarterback of the future, and he emphatically lived up to his preseason hype Saturday. Facing the conference’s leading defense, Lee played poised and completed 11 of 12 passes in the second half, leading to a pair of 12-play drives that eclipsed 80 yards. When given time to throw, Lee has the arm to complete passes all over the field, despite the fact four of his top five targets are true freshmen.


Tulane’s record is going to be worse than last season, but its team may be better. There are still holes in certain areas, but it’s impossible to ignore the young talent on both sides of the ball. True freshmen are everywhere, and mistakes are going to come with the territory, but if the Wave can respond the way it did Saturday evening, the program isn’t as far away from contending as it looked a week ago.