Let the good times bowl wave: Tulane’s chances for another bowl game

Ezra Weber, Sports Editor

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Last year’s exciting win in the AutoNation Cure Bowl and this year’s promising recruiting class has many Green Wave football fans on the edge of their seats, wondering about the chances of continuing postseason success.

These flames have been further stoked by the thorough thrashing handed out to the Florida International University Panthers in the first game of the season last Thursday. 

Led by quarterback Justin McMillan’s 199 passing yards and three scores, running back Corey Dauphine’s 76 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and a defense that only gave up 267 total yards, the Green Wave was anything but gentle in its 42-14 victory

After only one game, many would consider it too early to think about bowl game possibilities. To that, The Hullabaloo says: phooey! The day after the Super Bowl, it is not uncommon to see analysts lining up with predictions for the following year. Our predictions are long overdue. 

When it comes to comparing the team’s performance last year to its predicted performance this year, it is crucial to look at last year’s Strength of Schedule rating (SOS) and compare it to this year’s. This allows us to understand the improvements the Green Wave has made with the caveat that we might be playing better teams this year. 

Last year’s rating had Tulane’s ranked as the 83rd hardest schedule in the nation, and this year the Green Wave have the 80th hardest schedule. Marquee matchups against the likes of the University of Houston and Auburn University will make this repeat victory incredibly difficult.

Courtesy of Tulane Athletics
The Green Wave football team becomes the AutoNation Cure Bowl champions after defeating the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns 41-24.

Still, with the brilliant mind of coach Willie Fritz and an improved team, The Hullabaloo believes the squad is up to the task. The Green Wave already proved this in the 28-point victory against FIU where the spread for the game was a slim three points in favor of Tulane. 

So, while many predictions have Tulane battling for mediocrity with records of 6-6 or at best 8-4, The Hullabaloo believes the Green Wave will beat these projections and make a bowl. After all, we made it to the Cure Bowl with only six wins last regular season. 

ESPN analysts Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach project Tulane to be sitting out the bowl season, but even with this year’s tougher schedule, the bowl games slated for teams in the AAC are a distinct possibility. 

These games would include: the Jared Birmingham Bowl against a Southeastern Conference Team, the Hawaii Bowl against Brigham Young University or a team from the Mountain West Conference, Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman against an Atlantic Coastal Conference team, the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl vs. Conference USA, the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Bowl vs. Conference USA, the Cure Bowl vs. a Sun Belt Conference team, or the Frisco Bowl against a team across multiple potential conferences. 

If Tulane can win the conference and pull out massive upset victories in games against Auburn and Houston, it is not impossible the Green Wave could be on field in a New Year’s Six Bowl which features the highest-ranked champion from the AAC, C-USA, MAC, MW & Sun Belt.

Now, all of this optimism is for nothing if Tulane doesn’t match one major feat: having back-to-back winning records for the first time since 1997-98. 

Additionally, for the first time since the 1990s, the Tulane football team has received votes this week to be in the top 25 from college coaches in the Amway Coaches Poll. 

Longtime fans will recall the 1998 season when Tulane went undefeated and claimed the National Championship, a feat the University of Central Florida replicated in 2017. 

Assuming the Green Wave wins the six necessary games to become bowl eligible, it will have at least accomplished back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in more than 20 years. The Hullabaloo, however, is optimistic that Tulane is capable of exceeding seven measly wins.

We predict that with Justin McMillan and Willie Fritz at the helm, Green Wave fans can expect to see their team play in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Dec. 23 at 2:30 PM. Bring on Conference USA, and in the meantime, we want Auburn!