FACTS & STATS: Site: Yulman Stadium (30,000) — New Orleans, Louisiana.
Television: ESPN2 or ESPNU. Home Record: Cincinnati 3-1, Tulane 2-1. Away
Record: Cincinnati 1-2, Tulane 0-4. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 0-0, Tulane
0-0. Conference Record: Cincinnati 2-1, Tulane 1-2. Series Record: Tulane
GAME NOTES: The Cincinnati Bearcats take aim at their third straight victory
on Friday night when they face the Tulane Green Wave in American Athletic
Conference action at Yulman Stadium.
Prospects were bleak for Cincinnati in mid-October, as the Bearcats dropped
three straight contests against Ohio State, Memphis and Miami-Florida to fall
to 2-3 before the midway point in the month. They have begun to climb back to
respectability with wins over SMU (41-3) and South Florida (34-17) in the last
Tulane is not riding a winning or losing streak, although it is leaning closer
to the latter. The Green Wave dropped a 20-13 fight with UCF before last
week’s bye. It was the third setback in the last four games, dropping them to
2-5 overall and 1-2 in conference.
These teams are meeting for the first time as AAC foes, with this being
Tulane’s first season in the league. The last time they met at all came back
in 2002, when Tulane ran away with a 35-17 victory. The Green Wave have won
six of the last seven meetings to grab an 11-3 lead in the all-time series.
In the last two weeks the normally potent Bearcats offense has returned to
form. They posted a season-high 590 yards against USF, following a 508-yard
effort against SMU. Cincinnati is second only to East Carolina among AAC
squads in total offense (464 ypg), although it trails the Pirates by more than
100 yards per game.
It was the running game that really put in the work against USF. Led by a
surprising performance from Mike Boone, the Bearcats finished with 273 yards
on the ground. Boone accounted for 212 of those yards and he had a touchdown.
He had rushed for only 32 yards coming in, although he did not play in the
first four games. Boone’s efforts were needed considering Hosey Williams and
Tion Green have been sidelined for several weeks now.
The large scoring differential and success on the ground allowed Gunner Kiel
to take a bit of a break. Kiel completed 13-of-22 pass attempts for just 196
yards and a touchdown. He did not play the entire contest, conceding to
Munchie Legaux in the second half. Kiel usually throws the ball more often,
with 139 completions on 234 attempts this season, which have accounted for
2,049 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Shaq Washington ripped through the USF secondary to the tune of 12 receptions
for 163 yards, both season-highs. Washington leads the team in receptions
(39), but is second in receiving yards (432). Leading the way is Chris Moore
(20 receptions, 451 yards, five TDs), who is tied with Mekale McKay (22
receptions, 399 yards, five TDs) for touchdown receptions.
Cincinnati was impressive on the defensive side of the ball against USF as
well. The Bearcats allowed only 281 yards, while claiming more than a 13-
minute advantage in time of possession. It was a nice change of pace for the
Bearcats, who are third-worst in the AAC in total defense (489.3 ypg).
They may be in for another strong outing against a middle-of-the-road
offensive team in Tulane. The Green Wave rank sixth in the AAC in total
offense (354 ypg) and ninth in scoring (18.7 ppg).
The Green Wave may have their starting quarterback back this weekend, with
Tanner Lee listed as probable with a shoulder injury. Lee missed the last two
games, which allowed Nick Montana, who started for Tulane last season, back in
the mix. Montana didn’t seem to do enough to become the starter going forward,
completing 37-of-68 pass attempts for 282 yards, a touchdown and two
interceptions. Lee hasn’t been all that much better, completing fewer than 50
percent of his passes for 914 yards, eight touchdowns and nine picks.
Justyn Shackleford (24 receptions, 342 yards, two TDs) and Xavier Rush (14
receptions, 295 yards, three TDs) are the top receiving options for the Green
Wave. However, the duo combined for only three receptions for 24 yards against
UCF. Teddy Veal (15 receptions, 183 yards) set a season-high with 55 yards on
three catches in the losing effort.
When it comes to running the ball, Sherman Badie (582 yards, three TDs) and
Lazedrick Thompson (361 yards, three TDs) form a solid duo out of the
backfield. They have combined for more than 100 yards in five straight games.
Although they may be just 2-5, the Green Wave have not ben entirely ripped
apart by opposing offenses. Tulane is letting up 367.3 yards (sixth in the
AAC) and 28.1 points per game (seventh).
Getting Lee back in the starting lineup could be beneficial for the Tulane
offense, but it won’t provide enough of a boost for the Green Wave to knock
off a confident and potent Cincinnati team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 28, Tulane 13