Tulane (2-2) at ULM (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Malone Stadium (30,427) -- Monroe, Louisiana. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Tulane 1-1, ULM 1-0. Away Record: Tulane 1-1, ULM 1-2. Neutral Record: Tulane 0-0, ULM 0-0. Conference Record: Tulane 1-0, ULM 0-0. Series Record: Tulane leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of 2-2 squads from the Pelican State will go head to head on Saturday when the Tulane Green Wave invade Malone Stadium to face the ULM Warhawks.
Tulane is swinging back south after a rough trip to Syracuse last weekend. The Green Wave were routed at the Carrier Dome, 52-17, by the Orange to keep it from winning consecutive games for the first time this season. Not being able to string wins together has been a real problem for Tulane of late with the last time it had two wins in two weeks coming in 2009.
For ULM its weekend wasn't any better. The Warhawks traveled to Waco to battle a nationally-ranked Baylor squad and came away licking their wounds after taking a 70-7 beating. ULM had been riding a two-game winning streak into that contest, including a 21-19 triumph over Wake Forest on the road.
The Green Wave will clearly be looking for a different outcome than what occurred against ULM a year ago. In that contest the Warhawks rolled to a 63-10 victory in Tulane's home stadium. Tulane still leads the short lived all-time series, 2-1.
Against Syracuse, Tulane didn't break the mold offensively, staying right in line with its season averages, at least in terms of total yards. The Green Wave finished with 330 yards and are now averaging 343 yards per game. However that type of offensive production is clearly not getting it done. It also doesn't help that Tulane is tied for eighth in Conference USA in turnovers (eight).
Nick Montana is the man under center for the Green Wave. On the season he has completed 57.9 percent of his pass attempts, with 919 yards and eight touchdown passes. Montana has been producing despite having already been sacked 14 times.
It hasn't been much of a secret who Montana prefers getting the ball to. Ryan Grant already has 31 receptions, 418 yards and three touchdowns this season. He has had at least 70 receiving yards in every game and is tied for fifth in the country in receptions. Justyn Shackleford (nine receptions, 149 yards, three TDs) is the second option.
In the backfield the duo of Rob Kelley and Orleans Darkwa has been fueling the rushing attack. Darkwa is the workhorse with 52 carries for 185 yards and five touchdowns. Kelley has provided some explosiveness with 196 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
Tulane has been able to keep itself afloat by playing relatively well on defense. Though the Green Wave's showing against Syracuse was anything but respectable, the squad is still ranked fourth in Conference USA in total defense (378.8 ypg), while the team is tied for second in the league in turnover margin (+3) thanks to the 11 forced turnovers.
Sam Scofield (29 tackles, 4.0 TFLs, five pass breakups) is the leading tackler, while Lorenzo Doss (two INTs, seven passes defended) has been a ballhawk in the secondary.
It is difficult to judge ULM as an offensive team considering some of the competition it has faced. Along with Baylor, ULM took a 34-0 loss to Oklahoma in the season opener. Even with those two contests in the mix, the Warhawks are averaging 364 yards and 19 points per game. Turnovers certainly haven't helped the Warhawks, coughing the ball up 10 times already.
Starting quarterback Kolton Browning has been one of the most guilty parties in that regard. He has already been intercepted six times, while completing just 53.8 percent of his pass attempts. Browning has totaled 833 yards and has thrown three touchdown passes in each of the Warhawks' wins.
Browning has spread the wealth more than Montana. Rashon Ceaser (27 receptions, 296 yards), Tavarese Maye (20 receptions, 177 yards, TD) and Je-Ron Hamm (16 receptions, 165 yards, TD) provide several options in the passing game, while Jyruss Edwards (233 yards, TD) leads the team on the ground.
Just like their offensive numbers, the Warhawks' defensive production has been colored badly by the losses to Baylor and Oklahoma. ULM is currently ranked second to last in the Sun Belt in total defense (443 ypg) and sixth in scoring defense (33.3 ppg).
Even though ULM outclassed Tulane a year ago, the Green Wave should be able to keep this one closer. However, ULM has cut its teeth against some difficult competition, while the Green Wave have two wins against FCS foes. The Warhawks won't run away with this contest, but should get the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: ULM 28, Tulane 20
09/25 10:36:58 ET