Quick read: North Texas at Tulane

By Scott Kushner

Special to The Advocate

Tulane's Derrick Strozier tackles Louisiana-Monroe's Tavarese Maye during a game in Monroe on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/The News-Star, Dacia Idom)
Tulane's Derrick Strozier tackles Louisiana-Monroe's Tavarese Maye during a game in Monroe on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/The News-Star, Dacia Idom)

Storyline: Looking ahead

It’s still early for Tulane to be worried about standings, but a win Saturday over Conference USA West Division opponent North Texas would place the Green Wave in the thick of an October conference race for the first time in more than a decade. Tulane hasn’t started 2-0 in the league since 1998 (also the last time it finished above .500 in C-USA play) and hasn’t won more than three league games since 2002. But if it earns a second win against a division foe, Tulane will have a leg up on most of its competition entering the second half of the season.

Keep an eye on: Line battles

Before last Saturday’s 31-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe, Tulane’s ability to dominate the line of scrimmage was far from evident. But after racking up 253 yards on 53 carries while stuffing the Warhawks for 26 yards on 24 carries, there’s a different aura around the Green Wave lines — particularly on the interior. If Tulane can control the Mean Green in similar fashion, it will go a long way toward securing a victory.

Key matchup: Tulane QB Nick Montana vs. the secondary

While the running game flourished last week, Montana appeared out of sync and sloppy, totaling just 65 yards while completing 7 of 20 passes. North Texas enters with a pass efficiency defense ranked No. 110 nationally, surrendering a 155.2 rating; it has allowed 18 passes of greater than 20 yards in four games. If Montana can’t get back on track against the Mean Green’s pass defense, it could spell larger issues for the Green Wave aerial attack.

X Factor: Welcome home

Tulane hasn’t won on homecoming since beating Army 42-28 on Oct. 6, 2006, and has been outscored in the annual game 198-110 since 2008.