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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Competition intensifies for spot in top-tier bowl game

Tulane is in the drivers seat to win the American Athletic Conference. (Courtesy of Parker Waters — Tulane Athletics)

With the Tulane University Green Wave firmly in the driver’s seat to win the American Athletic Conference, the team’s eyes have shifted to a bigger prize: a ticket to a New Year’s Six bowl game. Similarly to last year’s Cotton Bowl Classic, the New Year’s Six game would give the Green Wave a chance to showcase its program on the biggest stage by having the team face off against a top-tier program such as the University of Alabama, the University of Oregon and other teams currently ranked in the top 15

The competition pool for a ticket to one of these coveted bowl games extends beyond the American, to the other conferences in the Group of Five: the Sun Belt Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference and Mountain West Conference. Out of the other four conferences, the Green Wave’s main competition lies in the Mountain West. 

Sitting atop the Mountain West at the moment are the Air Force Falcons, currently ranked 22 in the nation, one spot higher than Tulane. Led by their defense, which ranks ninth in the nation in scoring at 14.7 ppg, the Falcons have started the season 6-0

As it comes to getting a spot in the New Year’s Six, it definitely helps that their schedule consists of zero matchups against a Power Five opponent. Schedule has been a key factor in this race, as the Green Wave’s one loss came in a tough out-of-conference game against Ole Miss. The Falcons next matchup will be on the road against Navy in an inter conference matchup. 

Second in the Mountain West is the University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebels, who have a 5-1 record. The Rebels have played two teams in the Power Five, narrowly defeating Vanderbilt University after losing 35-7 to the No. 2 ranked University of Michigan Wolverines in what has been their only loss so far. 

The Rebels have scored 37.5 points per game, which ranks them No. 14 in the nation in scoring. They also are sixth nationally in forcing turnovers, as they have caused their opponents to give the ball away a combined 14 times in their first six games. The Rebels will face the Colorado State Rams at home this weekend, followed by a road matchup against the Fresno State Bulldogs in what will be a key game in this race, as the Bulldogs are 6-1 and third in the Mountain West

The one non-Mountain West team that is also important to keep in mind is the James Madison University Dukes, who are first in the Sun Belt. The Dukes currently have the most votes outside the top 25 following their blowout 41-13 win against Georgia Southern University. While their one Power Five opponent was against the 1-5 University of Virginia Cavaliers, JMU has proven to be a real threat to take the New Year’s Six spot. They have a chance to prove themselves further Thursday night on the road against 4-2 Marshall University

While the Green Wave’s sole focus should be to go 1-0 each week, it is time for its fans to expand their horizons onto these other Group of Five teams if we want to see the Green Wave play football in January again.

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