Greener pastures: Tulane looks ahead to second half of season

Tulane football is 2-2. While 2-2 may not sound very appealing to any football fan, for a program that has struggled as much as Tulane’s, especially after the last gut-wrenching win against Army’s decent program, this is a start.

As we enter the midseason period, we will truly begin to see whether change is coming to Yulman Stadium. Could Coach Willie Fritz be onto something? Could the Green Wave rise again? These are questions that cannot be definitively answered, but to consider them, let us first turn to how the Wave has performed this season and then draw conclusions from what we do know.

Both home games this season were victories. The first win over Football Championship Subdivision juggernaut Grambling State University was validating. One season prior, Grambling gave the Arizona Wildcats of the PAC-12 Conference quite the scare. But Tulane was not intimidated, as the Wave rolled over the Tigers 43-14.

Tulane’s recent home win over Army was no blowout by any means, but it was a win regardless. Last year, Tulane finished with a 4-8 record, and Army went a respectable 8-5, with wins over Wake Forest and Navy. Though the win took some gutsy calls on the part of Fritz and quite a few essential plays from Jonathan Banks, Tulane pulled off a hard-fought win.

Unfortunately, not all of this season has been as enjoyable. The loss to former No. 2 University of Oklahoma was expected, but it was embarrassing nonetheless. This is a game all Green Wave fans should simply let go: Oklahoma football is on a different playing field, and Baker Mayfield will be an NFL starting quarterback next year.

The loss to Navy was bitter yet hopeful. The Wave lost by two points coming from one bad snap. Nevertheless, it played a high quality team tough and down-to-the-wire. While a loss is still a loss, this game is reason to hope.

So what does this mean for the rest of the season?

10/7 vs. Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane has only one win this season, against Louisiana-Lafayette. The team lost to Toledo, New Mexico and Oklahoma State. With the former two in mind, the Wave should roll.

10/14 at Florida International University: Though the Panthers are 3-1, their three wins come against extremely weak programs in Alcorn State, Rice and Charlotte, an 0-5 team which they beat by only one point. Combined with FIU’s 61-17 loss at UCF, Tulane should be able to pull off this win in Miami.

10/21 vs. University of South Florida: The conference rival USF Bulls are currently ranked No. 18 in the AP poll. With a perfect record and three blowout wins, do not expect a Green Wave victory here.

10/27 at Memphis: The Memphis Tigers are currently 3-1, with wins over Louisiana-Monroe, Southern Illinois and UCLA. Although the first two wins were expected, their win over UCLA was a statement. A Green Wave victory here is unlikely. Expect a loss in this away contest.

11/4 vs. Cincinnati: The Bearcats are simply a mediocre team. They have two wins, neither of which were very impressive. Losses to Michigan and Navy prove this team to be nothing special. This game could be close, but being that it will be played at Yulman Stadium, Tulane should be the favorite.

11/11 at East Carolina: East Carolina has only one win, coming against the sluggish UConn Huskies. After blowout losses to Virginia Tech, West Virginia and USF, combined with an embarrassing loss to James Madison, this team should be easily beatable.

11/18 vs. Houston: The Houston Cougars have been an impressive squad as of late. Even after the departure of coach Tom Herman to Texas, this is a team that can compete against impressive Power-5 conference teams. Tulane will have a hard time winning this one.

11/25 at SMU: SMU and Tulane are teams of similar caliber. There is, however, one major discrepancy: the passing game. SMU quarterback Ben Hicks has more than 1,250 yards passing and 14 touchdowns, compared to 400 Tulane passing yards. This matchup will be quite the challenge for the Tulane defense, giving SMU the advantage.

Based on this analysis, Tulane should have a decent opportunity to pull off a .500 season. Though the school has not pulled off such a record since the team was part of Conference-USA, there is reason for optimism. Expect the Green Wave to be in the ballpark of 6-6 this season, giving them a chance at its first bowl game since 2013.

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