Tulane’s season, which includes a current winning streak of eight games, is not for the weak of heart.
In each of its three most recent games, Tulane has won by three points or less.
“We’ll stop scaring our fans one day,” Tulane cornerback Jarius Monroe said after last Saturday’s 24-22 home win over Tulsa. “But these exciting games, that’s what Tulane football is all about.”
Perhaps the No. 24 Green Wave (9-1, 6-0) can play a “scare-free” game Saturday against host Florida Atlantic (4-6, 3-3) in Boca Raton in an American Athletic Conference game.
Tulane, favored by 9 1/2 points, is led by running back Makhi Hughes, who last week became the first freshman in Tulane’s 129-year football history to rush for more than 1,000 yards.
“It feels great,” said Hughes, who has 1,008 yards, six touchdowns and a 5.4 average per rush. “I give all credit to my offensive line. We always talk about getting 100 yards every game, and that’s what we’ve done.”
Indeed, Hughes, who was a three-star recruit out of Birmingham, Ala., per 247Sports, has rushed for more than 100 yards in six straight games.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder was rated behind 84 other running backs during his senior year of high school. He then sat out the 2022 season as a redshirt.
Meanwhile, Tulane and quarterback Michael Pratt may have a problem at wide receiver. Lawrence Keys III left the Tulsa game due to a lower-body injury. He leads Tulane receivers in catches (33), yards (599), TDs (seven) and average yards per reception (18.2).
In addition, Jha’Quan Jackson, who is second on the team among receivers in average yards per reception (17.5) and TDs (four), missed the Tulsa game due to an injury.
Pratt, meanwhile, is completing 68 percent of his passes and has 16 TD throws and just four interceptions.
On the other side, the Owls have dropped two straight games. With another defeat on Saturday, they would clinch their third straight losing season.
Tom Herman, who is in his first year at Florida Atlantic, entered this season with a career record of 54-22 while directing Houston (2015-16) and then Texas (2017-20).
“This is unchartered territory for me and most of my staff,” said Herman, who has never had a losing season. “You (reporters) are going to ask me a lot of questions that I don’t have great answers for right now.
“We have to prepare our tails off to beat a Top 25 team and keep ourselves in the running for a bowl game.”
The Owls are led by quarterback Daniel Richardson, who played parts of four seasons at Central Michigan. He is a veteran of 41 games, including 32 over the past three years at Central Michigan.
His best game this season came Oct. 14, when he completed 31 of 38 passes for a career-high 382 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-14 win at South Florida.
However, he has thrown a career-high nine interceptions. In fact, he has been intercepted in every game this season except the opener, when he tossed just two passes in a backup role.
Last week, in a 22-7 loss to East Carolina, Richardson threw for 151 yards and one interception.
Fortunately for the Owls, their defense came up with 15 tackles for losses to keep them in the game. They also held East Carolina to five field goals, and the Pirates’ lone touchdown came on a short field.
“I’m really proud of our defense,” Herman said. “They played well enough to win.”
–Field Level Media
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