The Green Wave had a bounce-back, 31-point win Saturday after losing its previous two games by a total of 85 points, and no one has any clue what to think of this new Tulane squad.
And believe it or not, after the dismal beginning to the season, the Wave still has an opportunity to win six games and make a bowl game. Here’s how the rest of the season could play out week by week.
Tulane faces a depleted Central Florida Oct. 3. The 0-3 Knights will face the Wave after losing 16-15 to FCS Furman and after accumulating a pile of injured players, making this season a complete 180 for George O’Leary’s squad that topped the American Athletic Conference just a season ago.
The Wave has an opportunity to capitalize on UCF’s shorthanded team, which comes at an even more opportune time as Tulane’s next four opponents have yet to lose this season.
Temple is no joke, and after dethroning Cincinnati in week two, Temple looks to be the favorite among the AAC.
Tulane beat Houston last season 31-24, in one of its more impressive games last season where the matchups seemed to favor the Wave. But Houston looks remarkably better this year than last after knocking off Atlantic Coast Conference member Louisville.
The Wave could easily find itself 2-4 or 3-3 after the first six games of the season, but the latter half is where things get fun.
Navy’s offense will truly test the Wave, as its defense has never had success stopping a multi-back offense. Expect Tulane to struggle against that opponent on the road in.
Memphis’ offense looks frightening, with four running backs that play often and can find open holes, and a quarterback that does not turn the ball over. This could prove another test on the road that could prove difficult for the Wave’s offense to keep up, but expect Tulane’s running game to keep the Wave competitive.
Connecticut’s defense looks just as tough as last year, as the Wave and UConn had a butting match that ended in a 12-3 slugfest, with Tulane prevailing. But UConn kept Southeastern Conference No. 25 Missouri to three field goals despite its loss last week and Tulane’s offense, though stout against Maine, has not proven it can score on a disciplined defense.
Tulane should be used to seeing the multi-back wishbone offense that Army runs after playing both Georgia Tech and Navy, offenses that run similar systems. Expect Tulane’s defense to keep the Wave in the game.
Southern Methodist is still a relative mystery, losing to two top-10 teams, while shredding the North Texas defense. Call this game a wait-and-see.
Tulsa let up 44 points and had to go into overtime to beat Florida Atlantic, a lesser Conference USA team. Tulane lost to Tulsa in dramatic fashion early in the season last year, but expect the Wave to remember that loss and have its offense firing on all cylinders.
Say it all works out according to plan, and Tulane finds themselves 2-6 after beating UCF and losing its next four, the Wave would then have the easiest stretch of its schedule in its final four games.
If Tulane makes it out of its first half of the schedule 2-4 or 3-3, look for the Wave to bounce back and muscle through the lesser portion, and possibly squeak into bowl season.