Finally, Tulane gets an opponent that is not in contention for the American Athletic Conference championship and the potential major bowl that could come with it. The Green Wave can play with Connecticut on homecoming at Yulman Stadium, and it will be interesting to see what happens. UConn (4-5, 2-3) is coming off its most impressive performance of the season — a 31-13 thumping of East Carolina. Its other three victories came against hapless Army, hopeless Central Florida and Villanova of the FCS. The Huskies, who lost 12-3 at Yulman Stadium last year, rank 105th nationally in total offense and are tied for 113th in scoring. Running back Arkeel Newsome had a 90-yard touchdown run against East Carolina as the offense finally showed some life.
It was a dream opening in Memphis as Tulane scored touchdowns on its first two possessions for the first time since the Georgia Tech game a year ago. Jordy Joseph, making his first career start as a fifth-year senior, guided a scoring drive that lasted more than 11 minutes on Tulane’s first possession. When Dontrell Hilliard sprinted untouched for a 39-yard touchdown a little later, was the Wave in position for a miraculous upset? Nah. The rest of the game featured special teams gaffes, offensive ineptitude and the inevitable defensive breakdown in the second half as Memphis won 41-13. The Tigers are really good offensively, and no one has held up for four quarters against Paxton Lynch and company. Worth noting: the Wave lost that Georgia Tech game 38-21. Fast starts mean little when a team is overmatched.
Safety Darion Monroe was everywhere as Tulane held Memphis to 18 points and one touchdown deep into the third quarter, making a season-high 11 tackles and breaking up a pass. Monroe has played better than ever since serving a one-game suspension against Georgia Tech for a violation of team policy. He and the rest of the defense wore down in the second half — possibly mentally as much as physically — but Memphis averages 49 points. The Tigers have worn down almost everyone.
“That’s a great team we played. We stood in there for three quarters. We just have to learn to finish games.”
Keep an eye on
Tanner Lee’s health. Unsubstantiated rumors last week had Lee missing more than one game with the finger injury he suffered against Navy, and Tulane really needs him against UConn. All credit to Joseph for his hot start against Memphis and his repeated ability to elude the pass rush, but here’s the harsh reality: after going 5 of 5 for 71 yards on the first two drives, he went 5 of 19 for 48 yards the rest of the way. Memphis entered with the nation’s worst pass defense statistically. Without Lee, Tulane probably cannot win.
UConn and Tulane have two common opponents. Both lost to Navy by double digits and blew out winless UCF. … Since the beginning of 2013, Tulane has lost to only one team that did not become bowl eligible — Tulsa in 2014. … Hilliard’s 97 rushing yards (on 19 carries) were the most for a Tulane player since Hilliard had 123 yards on Halloween night a year ago against Cincinnati. … Tulane is 2-6 or worse after eight games for the eighth time in 11 years.