Tulane shows poise in crucial road win at Tulsa
It is cause for celebration, perhaps even relief Saturday night.
Putting it in perspective, whenever you are able to win on the road, it is an accomplishment. Tulane got the win and got out of Tulsa victorious and with a new starting quarterback.
There is little doubt that Tulsa is a poor team at 1-7 but Tulsa did play Texas tough, losing just 28-21 to a top 15 team. They did the same in a loss to top 25 South Florida, losing 25-24.
Progress was made Saturday. Tulane showed the necessary poise to win away from home.
The Green Wave started slowly, trailing 10-0. They trailed going to the fourth quarter and scored 10 unanswered points in the final stanza, coming through in the clutch when needed.
It was a team win.
The Green Wave defense held Tulsa to 135 yards rushing, pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter and got a huge fourth-down stop in the final quarter on a fourth-and-one at the Tulane 42-yard line.
The offense was nothing special but it was what Willie Fritz has always wanted.
Corey Dauphine was the star, rushing 18 times for 107 yards and while Darius Bradwell is the bullish back, Dauphine is the home-run hitter for the Green Wave.
Ironically, Jonathan Banks is known more for his ability to run, particularly when plays break down. He is not known for his passing accuracy, a primary reason he was benched.
Justin McMillan is known for his passing accuracy and decision making, not so much for his running. On this night, it was the running of McMillan that decided the outcome.
McMillan finished with eight carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 39-yard score with 3:46 remaining in the contest. He was a modest 10-of-19 for 92 yards but he avoided turnovers, though Tulsa dropped one.
McMillan made the proper read on the winning touchdown, keeping the ball, finding a gaping hole and exposing it for the big play.
Tulane executed the way Fritz wants his offense to execute, by running the ball effectively, moving the chains and keeping the football. The Green Wave dominated time-of-possession, keeping the ball for 37:56 to must 22:04 for the Golden Hurricane. Tulane punished Tulsa with 312 yards rushing.
Next up is a game with nationally ranked South Florida. The Bulls are no longer unbeaten after getting blasted 57-36 by Houston. USF will be at home and will be unhappy about the loss. Tulane will have to be prepared and must play its best game of the season to win.
Then comes a home game with East Carolina. The Pirates are just 2-5.
A trip to Houston follows against a very good team that Tulane upset a year ago before the regular season concludes at home against Navy (2-6) on Nov. 24.
To become bowl eligible, Tulane (3-5) has to win three of the four games. Clearly, the Wave must win its two home games against losing teams and find a win on the road against either South Florida or Houston, both of whom will be heavily favored.
The script against Tulsa is the one to follow—run the ball, move the chains, keep your defense off the field and avoid turnovers. Tulane lost one fumble at Tulsa. They will not have that luxury next Saturday.
While McMillan was not overwhelming, he provided a stable presence that will enable him to continue as the starter Fritz. Despite close losses to Wake Forest, UAB and SMU, the season is still alive for the Green Wave.
To make it a successful season, Tulane will need a signature win against a better team. Despite the win Saturday, Tulane must improve to have a chance at succeeding in this quest.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…