Oct 5, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; SMU Mustangs quarterback Shane Buechele (7) looks downfield during the second quarter against Tulsa Golden Hurricanes at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy Flores-USA TODAY Sports

Tulane looks for first conference win vs. No. 17 SMU

SMU is eyeing an American Athletic Conference championship.

Tulane is just trying to get an AAC victory.

The No. 17 Mustangs (4-0, 1-0 AAC) will visit the Green Wave (2-2, 0-2) on Friday night.

SMU, which didn’t play last week, signaled its contender status when it defeated defending conference champion Memphis 30-27 two weeks ago.

Quarterback Shane Buechele, who is 14-3 as the starter since transferring from Texas, completed 32 of 46 passes for 474 yards and three touchdowns against Memphis. For the season, he has completed 68.6 percent of his passes for 1,326 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.

“He has played exceptionally well,” Mustangs coach Sonny Dykes said. “I think he has a really high ceiling. He’s just getting better and better and more comfortable all the time.”

The Mustangs lost two key offensive weapons to injuries against Memphis. Wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. had five catches for 243 yards, including touchdowns of 70 and 85 yards, before sustaining a serious knee injury.

Starting running back TJ McDaniel was lost to an ankle injury on the first play of the game.

Dykes said Monday that both players will require surgery and miss the rest of the season.

T.Q. Jackson and Calvin Wiggins, neither of whom has a catch this season, will get added opportunities in Roberson’s absence.

“They’re two very capable young receivers who are big, fast and athletic, just not as experienced as Reggie,” Dykes said. “I think both of those guys have a ton of upside. We expect both of them stepping up and playing at a high level.”

Ulysses Bentley IV is the Mustangs’ leading rusher — 412 yards, seven touchdowns, 8.4 average. McDaniel rushed for 297 yards.

Tulane has lost big leads in both of its conference defeats.

The Green Wave led Navy 24-0 in the third quarter of its home opener before falling 27-24 on a field goal as time expired. Last week at Houston, which was playing its belated season opener because of five scheduled changes due to other teams’ COVID issues, Tulane led 24-7 and wound up losing 49-31.

“This is our league,” Green Wave coach Willie Fritz said. “We are going to have to play extremely well all four quarters because everybody in this league is good.”

Tulane built its lead over Houston thanks in part to two defensive touchdowns and finished plus-5 in turnovers.

“I was feeling good at 24-7,” running back Amare Jones said. “I feel like we took our foot off the gas and it hurt us.”

The Green Wave, who have nonconference victories against South Alabama and Southern Miss, are allowing averages of 395.3 yards and 31 points. They were outgained by Houston 476-211.

“There were some times when we covered well but just didn’t have any pressure, and there were some other times where we had a little bit of pressure and got beat,” Fritz said. “There were some times we played well defensively, but particularly in the second half we did not.”

Freshman quarterback Michael Pratt, who came off the bench to help lead a comeback against Southern Miss, made his first start against Houston. He completed 11 of 25 for 141 yards and a touchdown and was sacked six times.

–Field Level Media

Nov 2, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Houston Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen looks on during the first quarter against the UCF Knights at Spectrum Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Houston hopes to finally open season vs. Tulane

The Houston Cougars are finally going to get to play a football game.

They think. They hope.

The host Cougars are scheduled to play their first game of the season against American Athletic Conference rival Tulane on Thursday night.

But they have been left at the altar five times already.

Games against Washington State, Rice, Baylor and North Texas have been canceled for a variety of COVID-related issues. Another game against Memphis has been rescheduled for Dec. 5.

“One thing we all know about 2020,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said, “is you better get ready for things to change.”

The game against Washington State was canceled in July and the one against Rice was canceled in August. The others were called off much closer to game day, including the hurriedly scheduled makeup game against Baylor that was nixed just 22 hours before it was supposed to kick off on Sept. 19.

“We’re used to this,” Holgorsen said. “It’s OK to be disappointed, it’s OK to be upset, but you can’t hang on to it. We’re ready to go.”

All of the lost opportunities have been because of issues related to the Cougars’ opponents — not them.

“We’re healthy, we’re in a good place,” Holgorsen said. “We’re prepared, we’re eager, we’re motivated.”

If somehow everything from here on out goes according to plan, Houston, which reported for preseason practice in mid-August, will play nine games in nine weeks.

“Can we just play one game man,” wide receiver Keith Corbin tweeted. “Does anybody wanna play the houston cougars?”

Tulane (2-1, 0-1 AAC) does. The Green Wave, who have played three games despite seeing their opener canceled, had an open date last week and has already changed starting quarterbacks.

“It’s very unusual,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said of the disparity in games played. “They’ve had some tough luck with different schools not being able to field a team, so I feel for them. I know that’s difficult.”

The Green Wave won last year’s meeting 38-31 on a 53-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left. That wound up being the last game as a Cougar for star quarterback D’Eriq King.

The loss dropped Houston to 1-3 and King chose to transfer. He’s now the starting quarterback for No. 7 Miami (FL).

Fritz benched his starting quarterback, Keon Howard, early in Tulane’s last game — at Southern Miss on Sept. 26. Freshman Michael Pratt entered the game late in the first quarter and the Green Wave rolled to a 66-24 victory.

Pratt, who completed 9 of 19 passes for 142 yards with two touchdowns, will make his first start against the Cougars.

“We’re going to run our offense,” Fritz said. “There are going to be different wrinkles, but it’s not going to be totally different in any way, shape or form.”

The Green Wave lost their leading rusher, Tyjae Spears, for the season after he suffered a torn ACL against Southern Miss, but running back is one of the deepest positions on the team.

Cameron Carroll has seven rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown in three games.

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2020; Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA; Tulane Green Wavehead coach Willie Fritz yell to his team in the first quarter against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at M. M. Roberts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Carroll leads the way as Tulane swamps Southern Miss

Cameron Carroll rushed for three touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass Saturday as Tulane wiped out a quick 14-0 deficit to rout Southern Mississippi 66-24 in a non-conference game in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Green Wave (2-1) rushed for 430 yards and put two players over 100 yards. Carroll collected 163 yards on 15 attempts, while Stephon Huderson added 120 yards on 11 tries, including a 47-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

Jack Abraham completed 23 of 38 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Golden Eagles (0-3). Most of his damage occurred in the first half, before they were swamped by the visitors’ ground game.

Southern Miss needed only 4:29 to establish a two-touchdown lead. Kevin Perkins rushed for a 2-yard score and Abraham hooked up with Jason Brownlee on an 88-yard scoring strike. It was mostly downhill after that for the Golden Eagles.

Tyjae Spears tied the game on consecutive touchdown drives for Tulane on 2- and 15-yard runs, respectively.

After Abraham found Naricuss Driver for a 61-yard score with 12:57 left in the first half, the Green Wave rattled off 24 unanswered points.

Carroll sandwiched Marek Glover’s 41-yard field goal with a 16-yard touchdown catch and a 30-yard scoring run in the last 6:14 of the half for a 31-21 halftime advantage. Carroll ripped off a 52-yard touchdown jaunt on the third quarter’s second play for a 17-point cushion.

Following a Briggs Bourgeois 49-yard field goal that pulled Southern Miss within 38-24, Tulane turned it into a laugher with four more unanswered touchdowns. Quarterback Michael Pratt threw his second scoring strike of the game and added a 1-yard touchdown run.

Pratt relieved an ineffective Keon Howard, who started and was 1 of 3 for 0 yards. Pratt connected on 8 of 18 passes for 142 yards and also chipped in 40 yards on seven rushes.

–Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; Tulane Green Wave head coach Willie Fritz watches game action during the first half against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Tulane extends Fritz through 2026 season

Tulane extended the contract of football coach Willie Fritz through the 2026 season, Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported Monday.

The seven-year deal begins with the 2020 season, per the report. Financial details were not provided.

Fritz, 60, is 24-27 since taking over the Green Wave in 2016, including a season-opening 27-24 victory at South Alabama on Saturday.

Tulane posted back-to-back 7-6 campaigns in 2018 and 2019, capping both seasons with bowl wins.

Before coaching Tulane, Fritz compiled an 18-7 record in two seasons at Georgia Southern and was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year in 2014.

–Field Level Media