Tulane got the win it absolutely needed at Louisiana Tech, bouncing back from a disappointing home loss to South Alabama. Now the Green Wave has a chance to make a real statement at Syracuse. Beating any team from a BCS automatic qualifying conference would be a huge step.
SYRACUSE GENERATED LITTLE OFFENSE (260 YARDS) IN A 23-17 LOSS TO PENN STATE AND PLAYED LITTLE DEFENSE (581 YARDS) IN A 48-27 LOSS TO NORTHWESTERN BEFORE CRUSHING FCS OPPONENT WAGNER 54-0 ON SATURDAY.
QUARTERBACK DREW ALLEN, A SENIOR TRANSFER FROM OKLAHOMA, THREW SIX INTERCEPTIONS IN THE FIRST TWO GAMES AND WAS BENCHED EARLY AGAINST WAGNER FOR SOPHOMORE TERREL HUNT. HUNT THEN PRODUCED FIVE FIRST-HALF TOUCHDOWNS AND LIKELY WILL START AGAINST TULANE. THE GREEN WAVE WILL HAVE ITS HANDS FULL WITH JEROME SMITH, WHO ALREADY HAS SIX RUSHING TDS.
Tulane’s 24-15 win at Louisiana Tech was no work of art, but the Wave displayed two positive qualities it has lacked in the past — conditioning and the ability to handle adversity.
DESPITE PRACTICING INDOORS ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY IN PRESEASON CAMP, THE DEFENSE GOT STRONGER AS THE GAME WENT ALONG ON A HOT, HUMID NIGHT IN RUSTON. COACH CURTIS JOHNSON SAID HE LEARNED FROM SAINTS COACH SEAN PAYTON THAT PRACTICING INDOORS IN AUGUST WOULD KEEP HIS PLAYERS’ LEG FRESH. INTERESTINGLY, QUARTERBACK NICK MONTANA SAID HE CRAMPED A LITTLE IN THE TWO GAMES IN THE SUPERDOME BUT NOT AT ALL THURSDAY NIGHT. SACKED FIVE TIMES, HE STILL THREW FOR 235 YARDS AND TWO SCORES.
The offensive line remains suspect, but Tulane rushed for 129 yards, more than triple its average from 2012. Past Wave teams would have lost for sure when they committed four turnovers coming off a disheartening loss.
On a defense chock full of MVP performances, tackle Julius Warmsley took over in the fourth quarter.
When Louisiana Tech got the ball at the Tulane 11 with an eight-point deficit, he had a tackle for a 2-yard loss on first down and hit the quarterback as he threw on third down, forcing the Bulldogs to settle for a field goal they missed. Then he caused a fumble on a sack that Tulane recovered at the Tech 2, setting up the clinching touchdown.
“I’m sore but satisfied.”
KEEP AN EYE ON
Never mind Tulane’s struggles to handle adversity in the past. It did not handle its rare triumphs well, either. Tulane has lost 11 in a row following a victory, including a 44-13 debacle against Army after beating SMU in 2008, a 41-23 meltdown against Army after upsetting Rutgers in 2010 and a 48-27 defeat at Duke after clobbering UAB 49-10 in 2011. As silly as it sounds, Johnson and his staff have to make sure their players don’t relax after beating Louisiana Tech.
Three of the last six Tulane-Syracuse games have gone down to the last play. The Orange missed a field goal in the final seconds as the Wave pulled a 26-24 upset in Syracuse in 1990. Syracuse returned an interception for a 100-yard score as time ran out after Tulane’s Shaun King threw into the end zone with a 24-19 deficit. The Orange kicked a field goal with no time left to win 37-34 at the Superdome in 2011. … Tulane’s win against Tech was its first with four or more turnovers since 2007 (SLU). … Cairo Santos’ 51-yard field goal vs. Louisiana Tech was his 25th in a row. The NCAA record is 30.