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Tulane Green Wave quarterback Jonathan Banks (1) runs against Wake Forest Demon Deacons Thursday, August 30, 2018 at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans.

FOUR DOWNS

1 HIGH INTENSITY

Despite losing 47-24 at Coastal Carolina, UAB presents a formidable challenge. The Blazers are 7-0 at home since the program returned from a two-year hiatus in 2017, and they have not lost back-to-back games in that span. Embarrassed by what happened last Saturday, they'll likely give a supreme effort. Tulane needs to match that intensity on a hot, energy-sapping afternoon in Birmingham.

2 COMBATING EXPERIENCE

Although UAB is in its second year back after a two-year hiatus, this is not a sophomore-dominated team. Thanks to a slew of transfers, the Blazers have 36 seniors, including nine senior starters on offense and seven on defense. Only Navy, with 37, boasts more seniors. Tulane has seven senior starters on offense and four on defense. UAB has three sophomore starters, while Tulane has seven.

3 RUNNING ROOM

Last Saturday, UAB rushed for 286 yards and Tulane rushed for 268 against Nicholls State. The Wave has to slow down imposing Spencer Brown (6-foot-0, 224 pounds), but the Blazers, who allowed a whopping 296 rushing yards to Coastal Carolina, could be in a world of hurt trying to stop the explosive Corey Dauphine as well as Darius Bradwell and Stephon Huderson.

4 PASSING FANCY

Jonathan Banks endured his worst game at Tulane in last year’s loss to FIU but has become much more comfortable as a passer since then. Coach Willie Fritz wants him to make better decisions on the option after some mistakes the past two weeks. Tulane’s secondary made some early mistakes against Nicholls, too, but did not pay for them. It may not be as fortunate against UAB.

INSIDE THE GAME

WHAT’S AT STAKE

With a trip to Ohio State next, the Green Wave cannot afford to fall to 1-2. If the Wave loses here, it is hard to envision it winning five times in the AAC to get to bowl eligibility. This is the perfect litmus test to see how much Tulane has improved from last year, when it laid an egg at Florida International in a similar situation.

KEY MATCHUP

Tulane’s defensive front against UAB’s power running game. With nose tackle Jeffery Johnson unable to practice this week and a game-time decision on his playing status, De’Andre Williams may have to log more downs. If the middle holds up, it could be a long afternoon for the Blazers, who run downhill with Spencer Brown. If the Wave gets gashed, the defense will have a hard time getting off the field and could wear down on a very hot day.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

UAB: Brown has seven 100-yard games since the start of 2017 and likes to run over people. Quarterback A.J. Erdely threw only four interceptions a year ago but has tossed a pair of picks after two games this season. Active middle linebacker Fitzgerald Mofor had 11 tackles against Coastal Carolina.

Tulane: What can Dauphine do for an encore after scoring three touchdowns on six touches vs. Nicholls — all from at least 35 yards? Bradwell, who was banged up at the start of the year, is due for a breakout game as well. Senior cornerback Donnie Lewis (four breakups, one interception) has been outstanding through two games.

FACTS AND FIGURES

Tulane leads the series 5-4. The last time Tulane traveled to Birmingham, it beat UAB 49-10 in September of 2011. That was the Wave’s only victory by more than 15 points in former coach Bob Toledo’s five-year tenure. … The American Athletic Conference is 1-1 against Conference USA this year and 12-7 since 2014, the year Tulane joined, but the Wave is 0-1, losing to Florida International 23-10 last year. … The combined record of UAB’s five FBS home victims last year was 18-44. … UAB senior tight end Donnie Lee is a Harvey native and Helen Cox alum. … Tulane starting safety P.J. Hall and reserve linebacker K.J. Vault are from Hoover, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

25.3: The averages yards Corey Dauphine gained on six carries vs. Nicholls, the second-highest total in Tulane history (minimum five attempts).

90: Consecutive passes Banks has thrown without an interception, a streak that started in the fourth quarter against Houston in November.

27,124: UAB’s attendance for its home opener against Savannah State.

THE ADVOCATE SAYS

Tulane 34, UAB 24

This is a tough one to call. UAB is undefeated at home the past two years and Tulane is 3-9 on the road under Fritz. It truly is a matter of mindset, and Fritz preached toughness even more than usual this week in practice. If the Green Wave comes out focused, the Blazers will struggle to handle the combo platter of Dauphine and company on the ground and Banks to Encalade and Mooney in the air.

Guerry Smith


Follow Guerry Smith on Twitter, @guersmith