Nov. 9, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - Fresh off a two-game road swing, the Tulane Green Wave football team returns to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a rare Thursday night game against the 11th-ranked Houston Cougars in front of a national television audience on the CBS Sports Network. Kick-off is slated for 7:03 p.m.
The CBS Sports Network broadcast is available on Cox Cable of New Orleans, Channel 315, DirecTV Channel 613, Dish Network Channel 152, Verizon Channel 94 and AT&T Channel 643/1643. Dave Ryan will describe the play-by-play while Doug Chapman will provide color analysis.
The Tulane-Houston game will be also air live on the flagship station of Green Wave football, WIST AM 690. In addition, live stats are also available on the web courtesy of GameTracker, and a new, interactive option is available via "Tulane Live."
Thursday's contest marks the final home game of the 2011 campaign and the Green Wave will bid farewell to its 13-member senior class of offensive guard Emmanuel Aluko, defensive tackle Chris Asumnu, safety Taylor Echols, offensive tackle Harris Howard, wide receiver/quarterback Joe Kemp, defensive end Dezman Moses, kicker Stephen Purcell, center Joey Ray, linebacker Kristofar Rhymes, defensive end Josh Smith, fullback Kasey Stelly, running back Albert Williams and defensive tackle Cedric Wilson.
Tulane (2-8, 1-5 C-USA) is 1-4 at home and will be looking to snap a seven-game skid this season. The Green Wave will be looking for its first home win since a 47-33 victory over Southeastern Louisiana in the season opener. The Green Wave is averaging 22.7 points per game and 351.7 yards per contest this season (114.4 rushing/237.3 passing), while surrendering 36 points and 388 yards (161 rushing/227 passing) per outing to its opponents.
Junior quarterback Ryan Griffin has completed 59.4 percent of his pass attempts (177-of-298) for 2,100 yards and 12 touchdowns. Sophomore running back Orleans Darkwa leads the TU ground game with 652 yards on 150 carries and nine touchdowns.
Darkwa is also the Wave's top receiver with 29 receptions, while sophomore Wilson Van Hooser leads the Tulane receiving corps with 383 yards and four touchdowns on 27 catches.
Defensively, junior linebacker Trent Mackey has a team-best 127 tackles on the year (80 solo, 47 assists) and remains the Conference USA leader and ranks third nationally with 12.70 per game. Mackey's tackle total from this season is the second-most in the country and he is one of only three players in the Football Bowl Subdivision to record 120+ tackles this season.
"We had a great game against UAB as a team and it will take an even better performance to beat Houston," Tulane interim head coach Mark Hutson said. "It'll take a phenomenal effort in all three phases. It'll take some help from Houston's part. They're going to have to help us. The quarterback, obviously, is going to have an off night which he hasn't had this year. Special teams, not only can they be sound in this game, but for us to pull an upset or for us to even remain close based on their scores in previous games, they're going to have to do something in a productive way to make plays."
Houston (9-0, 5-0 C-USA) is one of just five undefeated teams ranked among the nation's Top-25 teams and comes into the game with a perfect 4-0 road record. The Cougars are the highest ranked team to play Tulane in the Superdome since No. 9 BYU in 2009.
UH is averaging 52.7 points and 617 yards per game (159.9 rushing/457.1 passing) and is allowing its opponents 23.4 points and 400 yards (183.8 rushing/216.3 passing) per contest.
The Cougars are led by quarterback Case Keenum, the NCAA's all-time leader in total offense, passing yards and touchdowns. Keenum has thrown for 3,626 yards and 34 touchdowns on 257-of-347 attempts (74.1 pct.), while throwing just three picks this season.
Running back Michael Hayes leads Houston in rushing yards with 553 and he is tied with Charles Sims for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with seven apiece. Receiver Tyron Carrier has a team-high 65 receptions, while Patrick Edwards leads the team in receiving yards (1,148) and touchdowns (11). Ten players have caught a touchdown pass this season.
Defensively, linebacker Marcus McGraw leads the Cougars in tackles with 90 (36 solo), while linebacker Sammy Brown has 21.5 tackles for lost yardage, including 9.5 sacks.
"Speed, speed and more speed is the best way to describe Houston," Hutson said. "They're exciting. I love to watch them when they're on television but I do not like to watch them when they are across the sideline from me. They're an exciting offense and have one of the top college players in the country in (Case) Keenum. He has shattered most of the records and has the other ones in sight. They're so explosive. They have three receivers with over 600 yards on the year. I think the last time they were held to under 50 points was Sept. 29 against UTEP. They scored 49 in that game. It's a big challenge ahead defensively."
Thursday's game marks the 17th all-time meeting between Tulane and Houston and the Cougars lead the all-time series, 12-4, including a mark of 4-2 in New Orleans.
Tulane is 2-4 all-time at home against Houston and will look to snap a three-game skid dating back to 2000 when the Wave notched its last home win over the Cougar's, 41-23. The Wave's only other win at home vs. Houston was a 48-20 rout in 1998.
Houston is one of two 2011 opponents that Tulane has faced in a bowl game. The Green Wave and the Cougars met in the 1973 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in the Houston Astrodome and Houston prevailed, 47-7. The other bowl opponent on this year's slate is Hawaii, which lost to the Wave in the 2002 Hawaii Bowl, 36-28.
Single-game tickets for the Houston game, as well as future Green Wave Athletics events, are available through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Sideline tickets are $35, adult endzone seats selling for $20 and youth endzone seats cost $10. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr., Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
Following Thursday night's game. Tulane returns to the road to close out the season. Tulane will play at Rice on Nov. 19 and wraps up its 117th-season of football on Nov. 26 at Hawaii.