Tulane, Southern Miss look to rebound after tough setbacks

NCAA Football

Coming off almost indescribably tough losses last week, Tulane and Southern Mississippi will look to take frustrations out on each other in one of the south’s more underrated college football rivalries.

When the Green Wave (1-1) and Golden Eagles (0-2) play on Saturday in Hattiesburg, Miss., they will be in bounce-back mode. Tulane blew a 24-0 halftime lead last week in a 27-24 home loss to Navy in its American Athletic Conference opener while Southern Miss lost 31-30 to visiting Louisiana Tech on a touchdown pass with 14 seconds left.

All losses count the same, but last week’s defeats stung both teams hard. Making it worse for the Green Wave was that they lost their first game on ABC-TV since 1980 against a team that dropped its opener 55-3 to BYU.

Tulane coach Willie Fritz, who recently received a contract extension through 2027, couldn’t remember one of his teams blowing a 24-point halftime lead.

“When we went to halftime, we were like it’s 0-0,” said running back Tyjae Spears to nola.com. “But our actions didn’t show that. It’s tough. We expected to finish and we didn’t finish.”

The result could be a change at the quarterback position. Keon Howard, a senior who coincidentally transferred from Southern Miss after two seasons, completed just 10 of 25 passes against Navy for 108 yards with an interception.

He is only 24 of 55 in two games for 299 yards. Freshman Michael Pratt, who almost relieved Howard last week, might get the call in this one.

Meanwhile, Southern Miss made some improvements in its first game under interim coach Scotty Walden. He took over from Jay Hopson, who resigned on Labor Day after a season-opening home loss to South Alabama.

Walden’s play-calling and sideline energy helped the Golden Eagles establish a 17-point, second-half lead, but their defense couldn’t make it stick. They allowed three scoring strikes over the game’s last 21 minutes and couldn’t get off the field. Louisiana Tech converted 10 of 16 third downs and two of three fourth downs, including the game-winner.

Still, observers of the Southern Miss program noted a change in attitude and aggression with Walden in charge.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to be aggressive,” Walden said. “We’re going to live or die by our own sword. We’re not going to play scared or timid. We’re going to lay it on the line and let the chips fall where they may.”

This will be the 32nd meeting of the programs, which sit just an hour and 45 minutes apart. The Golden Eagles lead the series 23-8, although the Green Wave dumped them 30-13 last year in the Armed Forces Bowl.

–Field Level Media

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