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Know Thy Foe (a Little Better): #18 Tulane Green Wave

It’s Championship Time in NOLA

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Tulane
Isaiah Bowser carried the Knights to victory in the 4th quarter in the last meeting.
Rebecca Warren-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Championship Time.

The #22 UCF Knights (9-3) will again face the #18 Tulane Green Wave (10-2) on Saturday in New Orleans for the American Athletic Conference Championship.

The winner gets a spot in the Cotton Bowl as the Group of Five conference representative in the New Year’s Six Bowls.

It’s also UCF’s chance to win an AAC championship in its final season in the conference against a team that will remain in it for the foreseeable future.

Gameday Info

Yulman Stadium
Yulman Stadium
Wikimedia Commons

Kickoff: Saturday, December 3rd, 4 p.m. ET

Location: Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana

TV: ABC (Dave Pasch, Dusty Dvoracek, and Tom Luginbill)

Series: UCF leads 10-2

Odds: UCF +4 (O/U 57) per DraftKings

Last Meeting

November 12 — UCF 38, Tulane 31

UCF jumped out to a 24-7 lead thanks to John Rhys Plumlee’s school record 176 rushing yards — the most in one game by a UCF QB. 114 of them came on two plays, including a 67-yard TD run in the first.

But Tulane sliced into the lead in the second half, pulling within one possession in the fourth.

That’s when Isaiah Bowser took over, leading the Knights on a 16-play, 75-yard march that ate up more than eight minutes, culminating in a TD that all but sealed it. Bowser got the ball on 13 of the 16 plays — 12 of them rushes for 41 yards — not including a 4th down conversion via a pass interference penalty on a pass to Plumlee from Bowser.

Tulane did get the ball down 7 with :04 left, but the game ended on a desperation play.

About the Wave

This Season: 10-2, 7-1 in The American and regular season champs (picked 7th in the preseason after a 2-10 mark in 2021). It’s their best season since they went undefeated in 1998 with QB Shaun King and then-head coach Tommy Bowden.

Last Week: Won at Cincinnati, 27-24. It was their first win at Nippert Stadium since the unbeaten 1998 season.

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

2022 AAC Coach of the Year

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

Fritz was just recently rumored to be all but gone for Georgia Tech, but reports are the deal fell through at the last minute. He appears to be willing to stay in New Orleans for the time being, and certainly for at least Saturday.

Key Players

#7 Michael Pratt — QB

All-AAC First Team

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Tulane
Michael Pratt
Rebecca Warren-USA TODAY Sports

vs. UCF: 23/39, 236 yards, 3 TDs

Pratt’s 3 TD passes vs. UCF was tied for his season high, and his 39 attempts were also the most passes he threw in a game all season.

#22 Tyjae Spears — RB

AAC Offensive Player of the Year, All-AAC First Team

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Tulane
Tyjae Spears
Rebecca Warren-USA TODAY Sports

vs. UCF: 8 carries, 130 yards

Spears’ 70-yard run in the first quarter set up the Wave’s first score of the game. Taking away that big play, he rushed for 60 yards on 7 carries for a nearly 9-yard average.

#2 Dorian Williams — LB

All-AAC First Team

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

vs. UCF: 13 tackles (8 solo), 2 passes defended

Williams has 24 total tackles against the Knights in the last two seasons.

Other Stuff To Know

  • UCF is 2-0 in the AAC Championship Game. This is the first time they’ve played in the AACCG on the road, however. They are seeking to become the first and so far only team to win The American Championship Game three times
  • A win would give UCF its fifth AAC title in ten seasons in the league (Note: The first two seasons, 2013 and 2014, there was no title game and the title was decided in the regular season)
  • This is Tulane’s first AAC Championship Game appearance.
  • Tulane last won a conference title in C-USA in 1998, when they went undefeated under Tommy Bowden.
  • The home team is 6-1 all-time in the AAC Championship. The only time a road team won was in 2015 (Temple over Navy).
  • This is the fourth rematch of a regular season matchup in the AAC Championship. In the previous three (2017 UCF over Memphis, 2018 UCF over Memphis, 2019 Memphis over Cincinnati), the same team won both in the regular season and in the title game.
  • In two of those matchups, both the regular season and title game meetings were held in the same stadium (2017 and 2019)

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