NEW ORLEANS – Tulane believes it can compete for an American Athletic Conference title this season and is ticking off big victories early in the season. The Green Wave will try not to get sidetracked when they host a rebuilding opponent in last-place Connecticut on Saturday.
TV: 3:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU. LINE: Tulane -34
Tulane notched a signature win when it knocked off Houston 38-31 on the final play of regulation on Sept. 19 and finished off non-conference play last week by ending Army's 15-game home winning streak with a 42-33 triumph. "We're trying to win a championship here," Green Wave defensive end Patrick Johnson, who recorded a sack and two tackles for loss against Army, told Nola.com. "It's not talking about a bowl game or anything like that. We're busting our butts every single day and it's showing." Tulane still has games at Memphis (Oct. 19) and home against Central Florida (Nov. 23) before finishing the regular season at SMU (Nov. 30) and will be trying not to overlook the Huskies, who last won a conference game on Oct. 21, 2017. "Your record is what it is," UConn coach Randy Edsall told reporters. "You are what you are, and we're a 1-4 team. We're not good from a record standpoint. But to me, there are guys making improvement. And as long as we can continue making improvement, that's all you can ask for. And then you want the wins to come."
ABOUT CONNECTICUT (1-4, 0-2 AAC)
The Huskies went 1-11 last season (0-8 in AAC play) and are winless in their last four in 2019 after struggling to a 24-21 victory over FCS foe Wagner in the season opener. UConn allowed a total of 104 points in losses to UCF and South Florida to begin conference play and ranks 122nd in FBS in scoring defense (38.8 points) while allowing opponents to rush for an average of 190.8 yards. "We realize that this is not the direction that we want to go in, especially after what happened last year," defensive end Lwal Uguak told the Hartford Courant. "And knowing how good we are compared to last year, this is something that can't be happening."
ABOUT TULANE (4-1, 1-0)
Taking aim at that suspect rushing defense will be a Green Wave backfield that boasts six players with over 100 yards on the season. Tulane ran for 324 yards at Army last week and six different rushers recorded at least five carries while five found the end zone. "There are about four or five guys we'd like to have touch it 10 to 15 times and some other guys five to 10," Tulane coach Willie Fritz told reporters. "All of a sudden, you're doing the math and you're up to 120. You have to have unselfish dudes, and when they get opportunities, they have to take advantage of it. It usually evens out during the course of a whole season."
1. Tulane is off to its best five-game start since going undefeated in 1998.
2. UConn RB Kevin Mensah (2,004 rushing yards) became the ninth player in program history to reach 2,000 last week.
3. The Green Wave own a 2-1 lead in the series, most recently earning a 38-13 victory at the Huskies in 2016.
PREDICTION: Tulane 48, UConn 17