FACTS & STATS: Site: Alamodome (65,000) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: WHNO. Home Record: Tulane 4-1, UTSA 1-3. Away Record: Tulane 2-1, UTSA 3-2. Neutral Record: Tulane 0-0, UTSA 0-0. Conference Record: Tulane 4-1, UTSA 3-2. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Tulane Green Wave try to bounce back from their first loss in league action on Saturday when they invade the Alamodome for a Conference USA showdown with the red hot Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners.
Coach Curtis Johnson has guided the Green Wave to one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the FBS this season. There were very low expectations for Tulane after its 2-10 finish in Johnson's first year with the program. However, the Green Wave are currently in contention for the West Division crown due to their 6-3 start to the season, which includes a 4-1 record versus C-USA rivals. The first loss in league play came last week at FAU as four consecutive interceptions to start the second half allowed the Owls to overcome a 17-7 halftime deficit and coast to a 35-17 decision. The loss snapped Tulane's four- game winning streak and put it in a tight race near the top of the division, trailing Rice (5-1) by just a half game and tied with North Texas.
The Roadrunners have put themselves within striking distance of the three schools at the top of the division with two consecutive victories over UAB and Tulsa. UTSA has outscored its opposition, 86-46, over the two-game span and trails Tulane and North Texas by one game in the C-USA standings with a 3-2 league record. Coach Larry Coker's team is 4-5 overall, which is actually quite impressive considering the program is only in its third year of existence.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools.
The Green Wave are in the middle of the pack in the C-USA in scoring at 26.4 ppg despite ranking 12th out of 14 teams in total offense (299.7 ypg). Senior wideout Ryan Grant is the focal point of the attack. He is the third leading receiver in the conference with 737 yards on 57 receptions. Grant failed to make an impact last week due to the passing woes of Nick Montana and Devin Powell. In addition to his three interceptions, Montana hit on only 7-of-22 pass attempts for 71 yards. Devin Powell was also picked off once. The loss marked the first time Tulane failed to score a touchdown through the air this season.
Tulane's rushing output has risen from just 39.6 ypg in 2012 to 120.6 ypg this year thanks to the combination of Orleans Darkwa (514 yards, seven TDs) and Rob Kelley (368 yards, two TDs).
Lorenzo Doss accounted for the one of the Green Wave's two touchdowns last week with a 69-yard interception return. Although Tulane's defense held its own with only 331 total yards surrendered, its offense tallied only 167 total yards and went 4-of-15 on third downs. The Green Wave have used turnovers to keep their opponents off the scoreboard as their total of 26 takeaways is the third highest in the nation.
The Roadrunners' offense unit has been unstoppable over its past two games to rise all the way to an average of 418.3 total yards per game, which is the third best in the C-USA. UTSA amassed a school-record 523 yards in its win over UAB before tallying 400 yards versus Tulane in last week's win.
Senior signal caller Eric Soza is one of the best field generals in the conference, as he has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 1,991 yards and 11 touchdowns. After UTSA took a 24-0 lead into halftime against Tulsa in the team's most recent outing, Soza's pass attempts were limited. He was very efficient, hitting on 16-of-20 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown while also tallying 43 yards on the ground.
David Glasco II stole the show against the Golden Hurricane as he produced a new program record with 135 rushing yards on 21 carries. Glasco II is pacing the team on the ground through nine games with 494 yards and five touchdowns on 94 attempts. Soza and Kam Jones have also contributed to the rushing attack with 299 and 246 yards, respectively. The trio has accounted for 13 of the team's 17 rushing scores.
Soza spreads the ball out among his wide receivers consistently to keep opposing defenses guessing. There have been 20 different Roadrunners on the receiving end of a pass this season, which is second only to UCLA's 22 in the nation. Jones (294 yards, TD) has a team-high 27 receptions, while Kenny Bias has 25 yards and two scores on only 15 grabs.
Defensively, UTSA stepped up its play to new heights last week as it shut out an FBS opponent through halftime for the first time in school history. Coker's team received a huge boost from junior safety Triston Wade, who recorded his first two interceptions of the season, the second of which he returned 82 yards for a score. Wade now has a program record eight interceptions in his career. Nic Johnson also converted a turnover into points as he scooped up a muffed punt in the end zone. The Roadrunners' defense forced four turnovers in total and held Tulsa to a mere average of 4.7 yards per offensive play. They still need to prove they can be consistently stingy on defense as their scoring defense (31.8 ppg) is just the 10th best in the C-USA as is their total defense (404.6 ypg).
Montana was out of sync last week against FAU as he returned after missing two games. The Green Wave's defense is one of the top in the C-USA, which could help them rebound from the loss if their offense can avoid too many turnovers. Another setback could end Tulane's dream of a berth in the C-USA Championship, which means it will try to step up its effort to remain in the thick of the race.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-San Antonio 28, Tulane 24
Saturday, November 9, 2 p.m. (et)