The Connecticut Huskies (4-5, 2-3) will head to the bayou as they take on the Tulane Green Wave (2-6, 1-4) in an American Athletic Conference matchup Saturday afternoon. Tulane won the lone matchup between the two schools as they took a 12-3 victory at home on October 11, 2014 as a 3.5 point favorite.
Connecticut had lost two straight and five of six before pulverizing East Carolina 31-13 at home last Friday night. Tulane has lost four straight games after getting hammered 41-13 by #16 Memphis last Saturday on the road. Kickoff from Yulman Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana is scheduled for 4:00 pm ET and will be televised on ESPNEWS. Connecticut is currently a 6 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 47.5 points.
Connecticut trailed 6-3 after one quarter but scored the next 21 points to take control of the game as East Carolina didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. The Huskies outgained the Pirates 404-340, finished with 17 first downs to East Carolina’s 16 and held the ball for 34:28 while East Carolina had the ball for 25:32 in the game. Connecticut’s defense came up big as they forced four East Carolina turnovers while committing just two of their own; one of those giveaways was a pick six that gave East Carolina their first score.
The Huskies are currently sitting 76th in the nation in passing offense (217.4 yards) and 110th in rushing (131.6 yards) per game on the season. Connecticut averages 20.3 points per game, which has them tied for 116th in scoring offense but they’ve been very good defensively; they are 30th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 21.1 points per game. Bryant Shirreffs has connected on 149 of 242 passes for 1,907 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Tim Boyle (7 of 18, 50 yards, INT) is the backup should Shirreffs get knocked out or need to be looked at for a moment. The Huskies average just 3.6 yards per carry in the ground game; Arkeel Newsome leads the team with 108 carries for 591 yards and a team high six scores while Shirreffs (343 yards, 3 TD) and Ron Johnson (77 carries, 168 yards, 4 TD) are struggling to do much on the ground. Noel Thomas leads the team with 42 receptions for 548 yards and a score while Tyraiq Beals (21 receptions, 248 yards, 2 TD) is a capable second target; Newsome (34 grabs, 386 yards, 2 TD) is a good safety valve out of the backfield while Alec Bloom (16 grabs, 269 yards, TD) is a capable receiver as well. Bobby Puyol is a strange story at kicker; he’s hit 12 of 13 field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards but is 17 of 20 on extra points this season.
Tulane hung in with unbeaten Memphis for a half as they were within 15-13; the wheels fell off after that as they were outscored 26-0 after intermission. The Green Wave actually led 13-0 before giving up the last 41 points. Tulane was outgained 581-270 and allowed Memphis to pick up 32 first downs while recording only 17 of their own. Neither team committed a turnover while Tulane held a slim 30:55 to 29:05 edge in the time of possession battle; Tulane did surrender a pair of safeties in the contest.
The Green Wave has trouble on both sides of the ball: they are ranked 91st in the nation in passing offense (198.3 yards per game) and 121st in rushing offense (106.6 yards per contest) this season. Tulane averages 18 points per game, which is tied for 119th in the nation in scoring offense, and they are 116th in scoring defense as they are giving up 37.9 points per game. Tanner Lee has hit 57.8 percent of his throws for 1,178 yards with eight touchdowns and five picks while averaging 6.37 yards per pass attempt. He missed the last two games for Tulane with a concussion and is questionable here. If he can’t go, the quarterback duties would fall to Devin Powell (16 of 36, 157 yards, TD) or Jordy Joseph (19 of 39, 251 yards, TD, INT) in this contest. The run game has scuffled as they average 3.2 yards per carry and has found the end zone nine times. Dontrell Hilliard leads the team with 72 carries for 389 yards and six scores while Lazedrick Thompson (33 carries, 133 yards, TD), Rob Kelley (49 carries, 182 yards) and Sherman Badie (39 carries, 189 yards, 2 TD) are in the mix as well. Teddy Veal leads Tulane with 35 receptions for 431 yards and three scores; Devon Breaux is the team’s big play threat with 20 grabs for 383 yards and three scores. Badie (18 catches) and Hilliard (16 grabs) are good safety valves out of the backfield. Andrew DiRocco has hit 18 of 19 extra points and four of four field goal attempts on the year with a long of 37 yards.
Connecticut is 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 on the road against teams with a losing home record, 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 in November and 11-4 ATS in their last 15 after running for at least 200 yards. Tulane is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 after a straight up loss of at least 20 points, 2-5 ATS in their last seven at home, 2-6 ATS in their last eight after allowing at least 450 yards and 0-4 ATS in their last four after allowing at least 280 yards through the air.
The Green Wave has been struggling on both sides of the ball this season and they couldn’t hold an early lead that they compiled against Memphis. Connecticut put together a solid win over East Carolina and Newsome has been extremely good on the ground of late. The Huskies are a better team defensively and that should help them pick up the victory in this contest.