Fritz steps into ideal schedule

2016+Football+Schedule

2016 Football Schedule

Jake Brennan, Contributing Reporter

The times and dates are set, and the Green Wave football team is poised for a breakout season with new head coach, Willie Fritz.

After a disappointing 2015 campaign, the Wave has a new athletic director, Troy Dannen, and head coach in place. Tulane’s football program is ready for the recently released 2016 schedule. The games outside of the AAC in particular are perfect for Fritz as a first-year coach.

Tulane’s most dominant win was over another FCS representative in the University of Maine, 38-7. If Fritz can manage the same type of overpowering success against FCS teams and the Green Wave’s weakest FBS opponents in his first year, the Wave will already be halfway to bowl eligibility.

The top end of the AAC had a very strong year in 2015. Houston, Memphis and Navy all spent time in the Associated Press Top 25, and Houston finished the season within the top 10, ranking eighth. Fortunately for the Green Wave, both Navy and Memphis have lost their star quarterbacks.

Even more important are the teams who spent 2015 at the bottom of the AAC with Tulane. UCF could not win a single game last season, and isn’t looking much better for 2016. SMU is still a weak program. UConn plays a much tougher schedule including games against three legitimate ACC teams (UVA, Syracuse and BC).

The Green Wave has an ideal schedule to become a powerful American Athletic Conference team in the first year of the Fritz era and have a bowl showing once again.

The schedule is highlighted by out-of-conference games against Wake Forest and University of Louisiana at Lafayette and an overall perfect list of matchups for the up-and-coming Green Wave.

Tulane’s first out-of-conference game against Wake Forest is a prime opportunity to start the season off with a bang. Wake Forest only posted three wins last season. Coming out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina with a win against an Atlantic Coast Conference team would be a major boost to the Green Wave.

Starting the season with a strong performance against a team from a Power 5 conference would immediately establish Tulane as a legitimate contender in the AAC. The Wave has not beaten a Power 5 team since a 32-29 victory over Mississippi State in 2006.

This slate of out-of-conference games features only one Football Bowl Subdivision team, which Fritz knows from his Georgia Southern days in UL-Lafayette, and two fairly weak Football Championship Subdivision teams in UMass and Southern.

If Tulane can sweep the out-of-conference games, all of which are against fairly weak opponents, they will only need two in-conference games to gain bowl eligibility.

Luckily, there are a number of weak teams within the conference that Tulane is obligated to play, including UCF and SMU. Fritz will easily be able improve this team into a bowl eligible program.