FACTS & STATS: Site: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (72,003) -- New Orleans, Louisiana. Television: COX. Home Record: Tulsa 1-2, Tulane 3-1. Away Record: Tulsa 1-2, Tulane 2-1. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Conference Record: Tulsa 1-1, Tulane 3-0. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 8-1.
GAME NOTES: Riding high off a triple-overtime win over East Carolina, the Tulane Green Wave will try to hold on to their perfect conference mark against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in a Conference USA bout at Mercedes Benz Superdome.
Although it was not in thrilling fashion, Tulsa also won its last game, besting UTEP, 34-20, in El Paso. The win stopped a three-game losing streak for the defending C-USA champions. The Golden Hurricane have a lot of work to do if they hope to get back in the mix in the league title chase as they are just 2-4 overall and 1-1 in league play.
Right now it is Tulane that is out in front with Rice (3-0) and Marshall (2-0) in the conference race from the crown thanks to the win over ECU. The victory came on a 42-yard field goal from Cairo Santos, who tied a single-game record at Tulane with five made field goals. Tulane owns a 3-0 mark in league play now and is also 5-2 overall with victories in three-straight contests.
If Tulane is going to keep pace at the top of the conference it will need to change up how it has played against Tulsa in the past. The Golden Hurricane have won eight of the nine total meetings between the programs, including a 45-10 rout a year ago.
In its win over UTEP, Tulsa had one of its better offensive games of the season as it had a season-high in points and yards (430). The Golden Hurricane have only reached the 400-yard mark in three games, while averaging just 373.3 yards of total offense per game.
Trey Watts has been the most consistent player on the offensive side of the ball for the Golden Hurricane. Watts ran for 142 yards on 27 carries against UTEP and has been putting up numbers like that all season. On the year Watts has totaled 565 yards and four touchdowns on 115 carries. Watts is leading the conference in rushing yards per game (94.2) and is among the top 10 players in the league in rushing touchdowns.
What makes Watt even more dangerous is how productive he has been as a receiver. Watts leads the Golden Hurricane with 30 receptions for 255 yards. Though Watts has been the safety net for quarterback Cody Green, Jordan James (21 receptions, 296 yards, TD) and Thomas Roberson (15 receptions, 221 yards, three TDs) have been the real playmakers. Roberson was especially effective against UTEP with five catches for 105 yards and a score.
Green also had one of his best games of the year last weekend. Green missed on just three of his pass attempts (14-of-17), throwing for 226 yards and two scores without an interception.
Most weeks Tulsa has left much to be desired on the defensive side of the ball. The Golden Hurricane are letting up 33.3 points per game and have not fared much better in total defense (408.2 ypg).
Although Santos was the hero against ECU, Devin Powell certainly deserves much of the credit for the Green Wave's upset victory. Starting in place of Nick Montana, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury, Powell threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns, both in overtime, to help carry the Green Wave. Montana's job isn't likely lost though. He is listed as probable for Saturday's game.
Powell certainly learned who to throw the ball to when under center as he hooked up with Ryan Grant for 90 yards and two scores against ECU. Grant (46 receptions, 611 yards, six TDs) has been a major reason Tulane has remained competitive, despite ranking near the bottom of the league in total offense (318.4 ypg). Grant has 46 receptions for 611 yards and six touchdowns this year, tied for the most in the conference. Justyn Shackleford (24 receptions, 251 yards, four TDs) is the second best option.
The Green Wave have not been as fortunate as Tulsa in the running back department. Orleans Darkwa (403 yards, six TDs) has been solid, averaging 4.2 yards per carry, but he has been far from a workhorse in the backfield. Darkwa has just one 100-yard effort this season and has had 20 carries only once.
Keeping pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been the calling card for Tulane's defense. The Green Wave are behind only ECU in sacks (18), while leading the way in tackles for loss (55). The Green Wave's weakness has been in the secondary as they are second to last in the conference in pass defense (282.7 ypg).
Tulane has been fortunate this season as it has overcome its weakness against the pass to remain unbeaten in league play. Unfortunately for Tulsa, its lack of a dominant passing attack will hurt it this week. Watts will still be a handful for Tulane but not so much to cost the Green Wave the game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulane 31, Tulsa 23
Saturday, October 26, 3:30 p.m. (et)