No lead is safe against the Memphis Tigers.
No lead is safe with the Tulane Green Wave.
So a dramatic momentum shift could be in the offing when those two teams meet in an American Athletic Conference game Saturday in New Orleans.
The visiting Tigers (6-2, 4-2 AAC) have come from behind in five of their wins. The Tigers had the biggest comeback win in school history when they overcame a 21-point margin to defeat UCF 50-49 back in October on a touchdown with a little more than a minute to play.
They trailed South Florida by 13 with four minutes remaining and scored two touchdowns, including another game-winner with a little more than a minute left, to prevail 34-33.
The offensive fireworks were absent in a 10-7 victory at Navy last week, but fourth-quarter dramatics were not. Memphis kicked a tiebreaking field goal early in the fourth quarter and the defense made it hold up.
“The defense is starting to come together,” Tigers coach Ryan Silverfield said. “The guys have a better idea of what we’re trying to do. The defense has been one of the bright spots for us this year, for sure.”
If the offense can regain its form of earlier in the season, Memphis can still make a run. It’s mathematically alive for a berth in the conference title game, though it would take quite a bit of help.
“We’re trying to find a way to get into a rhythm running the football,” Silverfield said. “We’ve got to find ways to get our offense going in the right direction.”
Silverfield said it’s especially important to establish the run and viable play action to slow down the Green Wave pass rush, which leads the AAC with 33 sacks.
Tulane had seven sacks when it beat the Tigers 40-24 two seasons ago, the teams’ last meeting in New Orleans.
“They took us behind the woodshed and kicked our tail,” Silverfield said.
That’s the Green Wave’s only victory in the last 13 meetings. Memphis prevailed at home last season, 47-17.
Tulane (5-5, 2-5) hasn’t played since a gut-wrenching 30-24 loss in double overtime at Tulsa on Nov. 19.
The Green Wave led 14-0 after three quarters and watched Tulsa’s third-string quarterback, Davis Brin, who was thrust into action because of injuries, produce three touchdowns, including a tying 37-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired in the fourth quarter.
After both teams kicked a field goal in the first overtime, Zaven Collins intercepted Michael Pratt and returned it 96 yards for the Golden Hurricane’s winning touchdown.
“We had our foot on their necks and we let it slip,” Green Wave linebacker Nick Anderson said.
Tulane led Navy 24-0 but was outscored 27-0 in the second half of its home opener in September.
Two games later, it led Houston 24-7 early in the second quarter before being outscored 42-7 the rest of the way. The Green Wave lost four leads against SMU before losing in overtime.
“We still have yet to play a full game,” running back Stephon Huderson said. “We are getting tired of these ‘almost’ games.”
This game was postponed one week as the AAC rearranged several games to accommodate COVID-related make-ups.
–Field Level Media