Nov. 21, 2008
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane football team hits the road for its final two games of the 2008 season, beginning this Saturday at 2 p.m. against Tulsa in a divisional rivalry game at H. A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa, Okla. TU will look to snap a six-game skid, the longest losing streak for Tulane since dropping eight straight contests to conclude the 2005 campaign, and the Wave will also look to notch its first road win of the year as well. The game can be heard live on WIST-AM 690.
The Green Wave (2-8, 1-5 C-USA) is sitting in fifth place in C-USA's West Division, while Tulsa, Rice and Houston are each tied for first. TU is 0-4 overall on the road this season, including 0-2 in league games away from home. Tulane will conclude the season next week on the road at Memphis at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Last week, redshirt freshman running back J.T. McDonald scored three touchdowns (2-rush; 1 rec) and became the third TU running back to score three of more touchdowns in one game in Tulane's last 22 contests. Former All-America running back Matt Forte notched three games with 3+ scores in 2007, while junior Andre Anderson tallied three TDs earlier this season at UTEP.
McDonald and true freshman Nathan Austin have picked up the load at running back in the absence of Andre Anderson, who was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. In the last three games, McDonald and Austin have combined for 180 yards on 60 carries and four TDs, and six receptions for 105 yards and one score.
With its top two offensive playmakers lost for the season (Andre Anderson, Jeremy Williams) because of injury, Tulane's has been forced to become creative in generating offensive production. A total of 18 different players have at least one rush attempt this season, while 19 players have caught at least one pass, and five different players have at least one passing attempt. Quarterback Kevin Moore, receiver Brian King and running back Albert Williams are the only players on the team to achieve the trifecta in all three categories.
Ross Thevenot drilled a career-long 50-yard field goal against UAB last week and became the first TU kicker to connect on 50-yard attempt since Nick Beucher split the uprights with a 53-yard attempt against UAB in 2004. Thevenot's 50-yard field goal tied for the 16th-longest in school history.
Tulane's defense has forced five turnovers in the last three games with an interception return for a score at No. 15 LSU, two fumble recoveries and an interception at Houston and a fumble recovery at UAB.
Tulsa (8-2, 5-1 C-USA) jumped out to an 8-0 start and ranked among the nation's Top-25 teams on two different occasions, but back-to-back losses on the road at Arkansas (30-23) and Houston (70-30) have the Golden Hurricane fighting for the top spot in Conference USA's West Division. Tulsa has scored 50 or more points in five games this season, including 77 vs. UTEP.
Tulsa enters the Tulane game as the nation's leader in total offense (583.80) and passing efficiency (112.90), and ranks first among C-USA teams in rushing (241.70), scoring (51.40), rushing defense (124.60) and sacks (31.0). Senior David Johnson directs the Golden Hurricane offense and the first-year starter has completed 66.2 percent of his pass attempts (190-287) for 3,254 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Senior running back Tarrion Adams has rushed for a team-high 750 yards on 137 carries and five scores, while classmate receiver Brennan Marion leads the team in receptions (35) and yards (962) and is one of four receivers with 30 or more catches this season.
Defensively, junior linebacker Mike Bryan leads the team in tackles with 85 (40 solo), while classmate James Lockett has a team-high 11.5 tackles for lost yardage and 7.5 sacks.
Saturday's game marks fifth all-time meeting between Tulane and Tulsa and the Golden Hurricane leads the series, 3-1. The Green Wave is 0-1 against the Hurricane in Tulsa after falling 38-3 in the 2006 season finale. Tulane's only win in the series came during the inaugural meeting between the teams in 1968. The Green Wave topped the Golden Hurricane 25-15 at Tulane Stadium.
Tulsa is 3-0 against Tulane since becoming a Conference USA member in 2005. The first meeting between the two schools as league rivals was in 2005, but due to Hurricane Katrina the game was played in Monroe, La., where Tulsa topped the Wave 38-14.
Saturday's game will serve as a homecoming for several members of the Tulane Athletic Department, including Tulane offensive line coach Mark Hutson, served in the same capacity at Tulsa from 2000-02 under then head coach Keith Burns, while Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson played football and graduated from Tulsa in 1976 and later served as the director of athletics. Tulane-ISP Sports Properties General Manager Marc Tuttle was an assistant athletic director at Tulsa from 2000-07.