Nov 25, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Tulane Green Wave running back Tyjae Spears (22) runs for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Tulane tops No. 24 Cincinnati to reach AAC title game

Tyjae Spears rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns and No. 19 Tulane defeated host and No. 24 Cincinnati 27-24 to win the American Athletic Conference regular-season title Friday afternoon.

Spears had his sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing game and eclipsed 1,000 yards for the season as the Green Wave (10-2, 7-1) earned the host spot in the AAC championship game Dec. 3.

Michael Pratt added a 30-yard touchdown pass to Duece Watts that provided the winning points with 5:10 left.

Evan Prater made his first start at quarterback for Cincinnati (9-3, 6-2) in place of injured Ben Bryant. Prater completed 10 of 26 for 102 yards and an interception as the two-time defending conference champion Bearcats saw their 32-game home winning streak end.

Tulane notched the first turnover of the game in the third quarter when Dorian Williams snared a tipped pass from Prater at the Cincinnati 40.

The Green Wave converted a fourth and 3 from the 6 when the Bearcats were called for pass interference. On the next play Spears ran 2 yards for a touchdown and a 20-10 lead.

On the ensuing possession Cincinnati converted a fourth and 1 on its way to Ryan Montgomery’s 8-yard touchdown run that trimmed the lead to 20-17 at the end of the third.

The Bearcats converted two fourth downs on its way to Montgomery’s 15-yard touchdown run that briefly gave them their first lead at 24-20 with 6:27 left.

The Green Wave needed just three plays to set up Pratt’s game-winner to Watts.

Valentino Ambrosio kicked a 34-yard field goal for a 3-0 Tulane lead that held up through the end of the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Ryan Coe kicked a 28-yard field goal that tied the score.

Spears ran 11 yards for the game’s first touchdown, giving the Green Wave a 10-3 lead.

On the ensuing possession, the Bearcats’ Charles McClelland ran 35 yards for a tying touchdown.

Ambrosio kicked a career-long 47-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to give Tulane a 13-10 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; UCF Knights defensive tackle Ricky Barber (5) sacks Tulane Green Wave quarterback Michael Pratt (7) during the first quarter at Yulman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rebecca Warren-USA TODAY Sports

John Rhys Plumlee leads No. 22 UCF past No. 17 Tulane

John Rhys Plumlee ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead No. 22 Central Florida to a 38-31 victory over host No. 17 Tulane in American Athletic Conference play on Saturday in New Orleans.

Plumlee rushed for 176 yards, including touchdowns runs of 67 and 9 yards, on 18 carries and went 17-for-30 passing for 132 yards. Javon Baker had five receptions, including an 8-yard touchdown, for 54 yards for the Knights, who have won eight of their past nine games.

Michael Pratt went 23-for-39 passing for 236 yards and three scores for Tulane. Tyjae Spears ran for 130 yards on eight carries and Jha’Quan Jackson had five receptions for 95 yards for the Green Wave, who ended their five-game winning streak.

Central Florida (8-2, 5-1), Tulane (8-2, 5-1) and two-time defending league champion Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1) are tied atop the American Athletic Conference standings. The top two teams will meet in the title game on Dec. 3. Tulane closes the regular season on Nov 25 at Cincinnati, which lost to Central Florida on Oct. 29.

Leading 24-14 at halftime, Central Florida extended its lead to 31-14 on Plumlee’s 9-yard run that capped an eight-play, 83-yard drive with 8:58 left in the third quarter.

Valentino Abrosio’s 23-yard field goal pulled the Green Wave to within 31-17 with 3:41 left in the quarter before Pratt’s 2-yard scoring toss to Reggie Brown made cut the margin to seven with 11:39 left in the game.

Isaiah Bowser’s 1-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, made it 38-24 with 3:32 to go before Tulane capped the scoring on Pratt’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Shae Wyatt with 1:46 remaining.

After Plumlee’s 47-yard run set up Colton Boomer’s 25-yard field goal on the Knights’ first possession, Plumlee’s 67-yard touchdown run on Central Florida’s next possession extended the lead to 10-0 less than five minutes into the game.

Tulane trimmed the lead to 10-7 on Pratt’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Duece Watts on its ensuing possession. But Central Florida countered when Bowser scored on a 2-yard run to make it 17-7 with 2:24 left in the opening period.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA;  Tulane Green Wave running back Tyjae Spears (22) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Tulane tops Tulsa for fifth straight win

Tulane’s Tyjae Spears rushed for a season-high 157 yards and a touchdown as the No. 19 Green Wave stayed atop the American Athletic Conference with a 27-13 win at Tulsa on Saturday afternoon.

In his fourth 100-yard game, Spears carried 14 times and scored from 34 yards out in the second quarter to help Tulane (8-1, 5-0) take control with a 17-3 lead.

Michael Pratt completed 11 of 19 passes for 125 yards with TD tosses to Tyrick James and Shae Wyatt. He threw one interception. Shaadie Clayton-Johnson topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time with 106 yards on 14 carries.

Braylon Braxton was 13-of-25 passing for 146 yards with a TD pass to JuanCarlos Santana but Tulsa (3-6, 1-4) lost for the fifth time in six games.

A 55-yard run by Spears on the second play from scrimmage set up the visitors. Pratt finished it by zipping a strike of 10 yards to James.

Zack Long answered with a season-long 46-yard field goal on Tulsa’s first drive.

The Green Wave’s Valentino Ambrosio made a 20-yard kick to round out the first quarter scoring — giving Tulane a 72-13 advantage over the opposition in the first 15 minutes of 2022.

Spears ended an 88-yard drive at 6:10 of the second quarter by slicing through the Tulsa defense with his long run for a 17-3 advantage.

However, the home side gained momentum when Kendarin Ray intercepted Pratt with just over a minute left in the half. Braxton then tossed a 28-yard TD to Santana two plays later for a 17-10 halftime score.

On its first series of the second half, Wyatt put Tulane back up by two scores by hauling in a pass of 20 yards from Pratt to make it 24-10.

Long’s 40-yard boot trimmed it to 24-13.

Ambrosio’s 33-yard field goal inside the final minute completed the scoring as the Green Wave won for the fifth straight outing.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Tulane Green Wave head coach Willie Fritz during their game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Tulane rides big early wave to down Memphis

Jha’Quan Jackson’s 90-yard punt return highlighted Tulane’s 35-point first half Saturday afternoon, leading the No. 25 Green Wave to a 38-28 victory over the Memphis Tigers in New Orleans, Louisiana.

After entering the Top 25 last Sunday for the first time since 1998, Tulane (7-1, 4-0) rode that momentum by scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter and adding two more in the next in the explosive half.

The Green Wave’s Michael Pratt rushed for a score and went 20 of 29 for 158 yards and a TD to Duece Watts. Tyjae Spears carried 24 times for 125 yards with a score. Shaadie Clayton-Johnson also found the end zone.

In losing its third straight, Memphis (4-4, 2-3) rallied behind Seth Henigan, who finished 26 of 41 for 312 yards with three scoring passes — two to Eddie Lewis, one to Koby Drake — and two interceptions. Brandon Thomas had a rushing TD.

In front of its second-ever sellout — a record 30,100 fans — at on-campus Yulman Stadium, Tulane got a short run from Pratt on the opening series. Ninety seconds later, Jackson fielded Joe Doyle’s 59-yard punt and sprinted 90 yards for a 14-0 lead before the first quarter’s midpoint.

Tulane’s Tylo Phillips recovered a muffed punt at the end of the home side’s second possession. Spears had a scoring run of three yards to push it to 21-0. Then Clayton-Johnson’s four-yard TD run ended a 70-yard drive.

After Larry Brooks’ interception of Henigan, Tulane scored again when Pratt struck Watts from six yards for a 35-0 lead near the half’s end.

At 8:48 of the third, Drake finished a 13-play, 75-yard drive by grabbing a seven-yard pass from Henigan for Memphis’ first points. He then hit Lewis for 33 yards to trim it to 35-14. Early in the fourth, Thomas’ short run cut the deficit to two scores.

However, Valentino Ambrosio’s 25-yard field goal moved it to a 17-point lead.

Lewis went 55 yards on his second receiving TD with 4:23 left.

Jarius Monroe’s end-zone interception of Henigan with 18 seconds remaining sealed the win — just Tulane’s third victory in the past 16 meetings in the series.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats tight end Ben Sinnott (34) is tackled by Tulane Green Wave linebacker Darius Hodges (6) during the first quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Tulane notches upset of Kansas State

Michael Pratt found Tyrick James on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 4:27 left as Tulane pulled a huge 17-10 upset over double-digit favorite Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan.

The Green Wave drove for the winning points after stopping Kansas State on fourth down with 6:38 to play.

It was Tulane’s first road victory over a Power 5 conference school since defeating Rutgers in 2010.

Pratt was just 13-of-26 for 176 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but he engineered a 52-yard drive for the go-ahead score for Tulane (3-0).

Adrian Martinez finished 21-of-31 passing for 150 yards for Kansas State (2-1). Deuce Vaughn, who had rushed for 100 or more yards in eight straight games, was held to 81 yards on 20 carries. He was also held out of the end zone for the first time in 10 games.

Tulane used a nine-play, 91-yard drive to get on the board first. Tyjae Spears punched it in from the 1-yard line from the Wildcat formation. The key play on the drive was a 38-yard completion from Pratt to Dea Dea McDougle. The Green Wave dominated the stats in the first quarter. Even going against a stiff wind, they outgained the Wildcats 125-46 in the quarter.

Things got a little better for the Wildcats in the second quarter, but it took a perfect throw from Martinez to his former Nebraska teammate Kade Warner on a 21-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7. It capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive for K-State.

Tulane appeared to be heading toward a halftime lead as the Green Wave moved into K-State territory. But Daniel Green picked off a Pratt interception at the Wildcats’ 28-yard line and returned it 49 yards. K-State’s drive stalled at the Tulane 4-yard line and Chris Tennant’s 22-yard field goal as time expired gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 10-7.

Tulane held Deuce Vaughn to 36 yards rushing on 13 carries in the first half.

After turning over the Wildcats on downs to start the second half, Tulane responded with a 30-yard field goal by Kriston Esnard to tie the score.

The Green Wave stopped the Wildcats on fourth and short twice in the third quarter and once in the fourth. K-State finished the day 1-for-5 on fourth down.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Nathaniel Peat (8) is tackled by Kansas State Wildcats linebacker Austin Moore (41) during the fourth quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Top defenses square off as Kansas State meets Tulane

Kansas State enters their final nonconference game Saturday up against one of the best defenses in the country in Tulane.

In a contest where moving the ball will be at a premium, Tulane (2-0) actually has one of the few defenses that is statistically better than Kansas State’s.

Kansas State (2-0) has averaged 6.0 points allowed per game on defense and has given up one touchdown on the season. And that score came on an untimed down at the conclusion of their 40-12 victory over Missouri. After a roughing-the-passer penalty as the clock expired, K-State allowed a late score on a 1-yard run.

“We have a good football team and we’re continuing to improve, but we have a lot of guys with a chip on their shoulder (in the locker room) because we think we have the potential to have a good team and continue to improve,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said. “This was no question a huge win.”

K-State will not take anyone by surprise now. After a shutout over South Dakota in the opener, it shut down Missouri’s offense. The Wildcats had interceptions on four straight second-half Tigers possessions, and those came on a total of five passes.

“I would definitely say we have made a statement that we’re fast as a defense,” cornerback Julius Brents said. “But we also have a lot of room to grow. I am just being humble with it. But honestly, I would say what we have put on film the past two weeks is pretty good. It’s just not to our standard yet.”

Tulane has been winning with defense as well, while getting the best of Massachusetts (42-10) and Alcorn State (52-0). Against Alcorn State, the Tulane defense surrendered four first downs plus 60 yards rushing and 49 passing. Their first road contest of the season Saturday will be a step up in level of competition.

“We’re very excited about getting our first shutout since 1997,” Tulane head coach Willie Fritz said. “It’s very difficult to shut out people nowadays. We got a chance to play a bunch of guys, and we got a chance to rest a bunch of guys.

“(K-State) is going to be superior to the two teams we defeated. But I like being 2-0 right now going into a tough ballgame.”

— Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Provo, Utah, USA; South Florida Bulls running back Jaren Mangham (0) reacts to the Brigham Young Cougars fans after his touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Tulane looks to end winless streak vs. skidding South Florida

South Florida is trying to avoid falling into the American Athletic Conference cellar.

Tulane will try to pull the Bulls into the cellar with it when the two teams meet Saturday in New Orleans.

USF (2-8, 1-5 AAC) has lost its last three games, but has managed to stay in second-to-last place, tied with Temple, just ahead of the Green Wave (1-9, 0-6) who have lost eight consecutive games.

“A lot of people outside this program and not in our locker room will look at our record and say, ‘Oh man, Tulane’s a 1-9 team,’” Green Wave linebacker Nick Anderson said. “But anybody watching the games knows that our record does not show who we really are.”

The Green Wave have lost to four teams that were ranked at the time they played them — Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and SMU.

Tulane had opportunities to win its last two games, losing a 10-7 fourth-quarter lead at UCF two weeks ago and missing a potential game-winning 26-yard field goal at the end of regulation and falling to Tulsa in overtime at home last Saturday.

“Everybody would like to scream and yell and go off,” coach Willie Fritz said of the near misses. “But it’s not going to do anything.”

USF fell behind No. 5 Cincinnati, 31-7, before scoring 14 straight then losing 45-28 at home last Friday.

“We put a lot into that game, and we really expected to go out and play better in the first half than we did,” coach Jeff Scott said. “We just dug too big of a hole.”

Scott took solace in how his team responded in the second half. It gained just 35 yards in the first half and gained 309 in the second half on its way to scoring the most points this season against a Bearcats defense that entered the game allowing just 14.9 points per game, the third lowest in the country.

But the Bulls’ defense couldn’t slow down the Bearcats offense. USF has allowed a total of 128 points during its losing streak.

“It’s frustrating,” Scott said. “We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got two games to figure it out. We’re just too inconsistent in some of our alignments and executions defensively.”

Jaren Mangham has 15 rushing touchdowns this season, tied for second in school history and just three shy of the school record.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Tulane Green Wave quarterback Michael Pratt (7) throws a pass against the UCF Knights during the second half at Bounce House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Tulane, Tulsa each look to recover from disappointments

Tulsa and Tulane have both endured frustrating losses while compiling disappointing records.

They will try to take their frustrations out on each other when they meet in an American Athletic Conference game on Saturday in New Orleans.

The Golden Hurricane (3-6, 2-3 AAC) are coming off a 28-20 road loss to then-No. 6 Cincinnati last Saturday. Tulsa ran eight plays inside the Bearcats’ 20 in the final moments, but couldn’t score a touchdown that would have given it an opportunity to tie with a two-point conversion.

Tulsa was competitive in other losses to Oklahoma State and Ohio State.

“This team continues to battle and give ourselves opportunities,” coach Philip Montgomery said. “It’s a break here, it’s a play there and it can be the difference in this being an unbelievable season or a season that you’re still battling for.”

The Golden Hurricane scored on only three of their six red-zone opportunities against Cincinnati. For the season Tulsa has failed to score on 10 of 32 red-zone opportunities.

“It’s just us not executing,” running back Anthony Watkins said. “It’s on us. We’re going to find a way to fix that.”

The Golden Hurricane rushed for 297 yards against Cincinnati, the fifth time this season the team has rushed for 200 or more yards.

Tulane (1-8, 0-5), which has played four teams that were ranked when it met them, has lost seven straight.

The Green Wave defense has struggled for much of the season, but has played much better the last two weeks, in a 31-12 home loss to Cincinnati and a 14-10 loss at UCF last week.

It held the Knights, who had rushed for at least 148 yards in their first eight games, to season lows in points, rushing yards (48) and total yards (277).

“Now that we know what we can do,” linebacker Dorian Williams said, “we’ve got to go out and prove it every weekend.”

Quarterback Michael Pratt returned after suffering a concussion two weeks prior, but passed for just 147 yards and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 18 career starts.

“We just have to continue to fight through this adversity and not play the string out,” coach Willie Fritz said. “That’s the last thing we’re going to do. We are going to play as hard as we can the next three weeks.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) runs against Tulane Green Wave linebacker Kevin Henry (33) during the first half at Yulman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Ridder leads No. 2 Cincinnati over Tulane

Desmond Ridder threw three touchdown passes and No. 2 Cincinnati held off host Tulane 31-12 in an American Athletic Conference game Saturday afternoon in New Orleans.

Ridder completed 17 of 27 passes for 227 yards with one interception as the Bearcats (8-0, 4-0 AAC) endured their second consecutive sluggish performance. Their 27-20 victory at Navy a week earlier was their closest outcome of the season.

Josh Whyle caught two of the touchdown passes and Jerome Ford caught the third and also rushed for a score.

Tyjae Spears rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown to lead the Green Wave (1-7, 0-4), who lost their sixth straight game and fell to 0-4 this season against ranked opponents.

Tulane played without quarterbacks Michael Pratt and Justin Ibieta, who are both injured, and freshman Kai Horton managed just 79 yards on 7-of-16 passing with two interceptions.

The Bearcats converted a fourth-and-one on their way to Ridder’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Whyle that increased their lead to 21-12 at the end of the third quarter.

Cincinnati recovered a fumble at the Tulane 10, leading to Christian Lowery’s 27-yard field goal and a 24-12 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Ridder added a 26-yard touchdown pass to Ford to complete the scoring.

Cincinnati drove 99 yards in 16 plays, the last of which was a 16-yard touchdown pass from Ridder to Whyle. That gave the Bearcats a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Marvin Moody sacked Ridder for a safety and Spears ran 47 yards for a touchdown that gave the Green Wave a 9-7 lead.

Ridder and Whyle connected on a 28-yard pass and Ridder ran 37 yards, setting up Ford’s 3-yard touchdown run that put Cincinnati ahead 14-9.

The Bearcats had a chance to extend the lead in the final minute of the second quarter, but Ridder was intercepted by Macon Clark, who returned it 33 yards to midfield. Merek Glover kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to cut Cincinnati’s lead to 14-12 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars running back Alton McCaskill (22) runs the ball during the first half against the Grambling State Tigers at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Surging Houston hits road to face Tulane

Houston and Tulane are heading in opposite directions as they prepare to meet Thursday night in an American Athletic Conference game at New Orleans.

The Cougars (4-1, 2-0) have won four games in a row and are coming off a 45-10 thrashing of host Tulsa last Friday.

The Green Wave (1-4, 0-1) opened the season by playing Oklahoma to the wire, but have lost three in a row, including Saturday’s 52-29 loss at East Carolina in their conference opener. Tulane has been outscored 141-71 in consecutive losses to Ole Miss, UAB and East Carolina, and now it takes on a Houston team that has outscored its last four opponents 162-37.

Houston has allowed just four touchdowns during its four-game winning streak and head coach Dana Holgorsen called the performance against Tulsa “complete dominance.” The Cougars had a smothering run defense, intercepted three passes (returning one for a touchdown) and recorded four sacks.

“We hope we made a statement,” said safety Gervarrius Owens, whose 45-yard interception return for a touchdown came in the first minute of the second half, making the score 35-3. “We showed how exciting and dominant we can be when we’re clicking on all cylinders.”

Cougars freshman Alton McCaskill scored three times against Tulsa and already has eight total touchdowns this season.

Tulane, meantime, has not led in a game since an easy 69-20 victory against Morgan State on Sept. 11.

“We can’t let negativity sink in. We can’t let outside things creep in,” said Green Wave running back Cameron Carroll, who had 147 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown against East Carolina. “We have to just stay focused and stay positive. We can’t get down on ourselves. We constantly have to lift each other up.”

Tulane fell behind 24-0 to East Carolina and gave up 612 yards, including 310 rushing. The Green Wave committed four turnovers, two of which led to Pirates touchdowns.

“You’ve got problems when you dig a hole as big as we did,” said Fritz, whose team has its worst record after five games in his six seasons as head coach.

The quick turnaround for the Thursday game didn’t leave much time for Tulane to dwell on its most recent loss.

“I like it,” linebacker Dorian Williams said. “You always like to play big Thursday night games on ESPN. We just have to get going and get back into the groove.”

–Field Level Media