I am having a helluva time mustering the self discipline not to launch head first into two weeks of Florida. But, hell, Tulane is there. We have to play them - in this well-intentioned but Gawd-Awful uniform, at a Gawd-awful hour. So I might as well pay attention, just in case the team gets food poisoning and we're forced to play the scout team...
Tulane's Schedule So Far (1-3)
The Greenies lost to MSU 38-17. After staying even at 17 with the Bulldogs at halftime, Tulane was held scoreless in the second half. The Greenies lost two fumbles and threw 1 pick returned 47 yards for a TD in the first quarter. Tulane was able to pass for 199 yards but only managed 44 net yards rushing against a team that doesn't rank in the Top 50 in rushing defense. On a good note, they were able to sustain 3 drives over 65 yards on MSU for scores.
Tulane lost to Houston 34-10, and were never really in the game. Once again, Tulane's ground game suffered, with a net gain of only 85 yards against a Houston defense that gives up about 160 yards rushing per game. The Greenies put the ball on the ground 3 times without losing a fumble, but threw two interceptions. Like the MSU game, they punted seven times. Houston lost to Oregon in their season opener, but has beat Tulane and Colorado State.
Tulane beat Southeastern Louisiana 35-27, largely by scoring two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter. They trailed Southeastern 20-14 at halftime. Matt Forte had a career day, rushing for every one of Tulane's 300 yards and scoring every Tulane point that didn't get kicked through the uprights. Southeastern stayed in the game, and the stats show it was a battle. One of the Lions' touchdowns came from the return of a blocked punt. This was coach Toledo's first Tulane win.
Analysis - Sort Of
It's very difficult to seriously attempt to match up these two teams. In a sense, Tulane is like MTSU in that comparisons based on skill positions (their defensive front against our offensive line, thier receivers against our secondary, etc) are nearly impossible to make. I'm tempted to just compare our respective MSU games, but that's not even fair. The Bulldogs rebounded nicely after getting bludgeoned by LSU, and were effectively a different team altogether.
I think the best road to take for this analysis at this point is to just talk about schedule and results. The Green Wave have given up about 400 yards total offense per game to weak opponents, the strongest of which so far appears to be the MSU team that LSU crushed and held to 10 yards rushing. Conversely, LSU has manhandled two high quality programs (Va Tech and South Carolina), crushed a weak MTSU, and shut out the same MSU team that put 38 points on the Greenies.
Like every opponent LSU faces this year, Tulane will have to outplay LSU on special teams, beat LSU on turnover ratio, and hope to leverage LSU's offensive injuries to keep the score low. LSU's defense won't be giving up more than a touchdown and maybe a FG, worst case. Expecting the Greenies to hold LSU's offense to less than 10 points is a bit on the crazy side.
So, even with a heinous turnover ratio and some really big plays for the Green Wave, I don't see them seriously contemplating an actual upset. Now, a moral upset would be staying within 2 or 3 touchdowns and besting LSU's awesome defensive stats. That would correlate to a positive post-game locker room and a bounce going into the meat of their conference schedule.
From LSU's perspective, I look for Coach Miles and his staff to have the team focused yet again on the task at hand. Playing in the Dome and the uniform gimmick will help with that, as will Forte's 300 yard outing last week. I think we'll see a purposeful return to our passing game, with far fewer trick plays and a lot more success on special teams.
This one will start ugly and get worse, as LSU plays tons of it's second-eleven on both sides of the ball. I think the coaching staff will resist the urge to run up the score, out of respect for our in-state rivalry. However, Tulane doesn't seem to have much on defense, so perhaps it will be tough to keep the score from creeping into the 50s and beyond.
LSU 55, Tulane 3