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Know Thy Foe: Tulane Green Wave

Yes, we should Fear the Wave. They’re good.

Tulane v USF
Tulane QB Michael Pratt
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The #22 UCF Knights will face their biggest test in 2022 on Saturday in New Orleans as they face the only G5 team ahead of them in the CFP rankings and the AAC standings, the #17 Tulane Green Wave.

Gameday Info

Yulman Stadium
Yulman Stadium
Wikimedia Commons

Kickoff: Saturday, November 12th, 3:30 p.m. ET

Location: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana


Series: UCF leads 9-2

Last Meeting: Last season — UCF won, 14-10

It was far from pretty — neither team put up more than 280 yards of offense. But Mikey Keene’s late TD pass to Brandon Johnson gave UCF the victory. Michael Pratt was sacked four times.

About the Wave

This Season: 8-1, 5-0 and alone in first place in the American. They were picked 7th in the preseason. They have been one of the biggest surprises in FBS in 2022.

  • Key wins: 17-10 at Kansas State, 27-24 at Houston
  • Bad loss: 27-24 vs. Southern Miss (5-4) at home
  • Remaining: vs. SMU (11/17), at Cincinnati (11/25)

Last Season: 2-10. Their only wins were against Morgan State and — surprise — South Florida. They were forced to Birmingham from New Orleans for three weeks at the start of the season due to Hurricane Ida, and never recovered.

Key to their turn-around this year has been the defense under second-year coordinator Chris Hampton, which has gone from giving up 34 points per game in 2021 (114th in FBS) to just 16.9 in 2022 (11th).

Tulane Offensive and Defensive Stats

Category Offense AAC Rank FBS Rank Defense AAC Rank FBS Rank
Category Offense AAC Rank FBS Rank Defense AAC Rank FBS Rank
Rush Yards/Game 192.3 4th 35th 154.6 7th 74th
Pass Yards/Game 223.7 9th 75th 182.2 1st 13th
Total Yards/Game 416.0 6th 45th 336.8 2nd 27th
Points/Game 34.4 5th 26th 19.8 1st 18th
Stats through all 12 regular season games

Key Stats

  • Third Down Conversion Defense — 1st in American (32.1%)
  • Fewest Penalties — 2nd in American, 3rd in FBS (3.89/game)
  • Fewest Interceptions Thrown — 1st in American (4)

Head Coach: Willie Fritz

NCAA Football: Tulane at Tulsa
Tulane head coach Willie Fritz
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Fritz is yet another example of an outstanding FCS coach who has made the jump to FBS and had success wth the blessing of administrative patience. After a distinguished 13-year career at D-II Central Missouri, he jumped to Sam Houston in 2010 and won back-to-back FCS national titles in 2011 and 2012. After two years at Georgia Southern (including a Sun Belt title), Tulane picked him up in 2016.

He is the first Tulane head coach to lead the Wave to three straight bowl games in the program’s history.

Key Players

#7 Michael Pratt — QB

Junior | 6-3, 200 | Deerfield Beach, FL

2022: 142/213 (67%), 1,843 yards, 14 TDs, 4 Int, 251 rush yards, 5 rush TDs

Pratt is a big kid with a big arm and fantastic pocket presence who has matured into a genuine NFL prospect. A Maxwell Award watch-lister, he actually had a decent year last year (58%, 2390 yards, 21 TD/8 INT) despite his team going 2-10. He’s actually been the most consistent presence in Tulane’s offense in his time there — The top six Tulane receivers all have between 23 and 20 receptions on the year.

#22 Tyjae Spears — RB

Junior | 5-11, 195 pounds | Ponchatoula, LA

2022: 134 carries, 745 yards, 5.6 yards/rush, 10 TDs, 17 rec, 209 yards, 1 TD

Spears is the straw that stirs the drink for the Wave. He ran for 863 yards and 9 TDs last season and is now the clear #1 in the backfield.

#2 Dorian Williams — LB

Senior | 6-2, 2230 pounds | Indian Town, SC

2022: 66 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 4 sacks, 4 passes defended, 1 INT

Cincinnati v Tulane
Tulane RB Dorian Williams
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Williams has been the key to the Wave’s defensive rejuvenation. He’s started the last three seasons and had 11 tackles against UCF last year.

Other Stuff To Know

  • UCF last lost to Tulane in 2015, when UCF lost to everyone.
  • Tulane has won a championship in four different conferences, but not since C-USA in 1998, when they went undefeated under Tommy Bowden.
  • Tulane has three SEC titles: 1934, 1939, and 1949
  • UCF’s first meeting with Tulane was a 36-29 win in the Superdome in 2001. Alex Haynes ran for 148 yards and 4 TDs.

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