Do You Know What It Is To Miss New Orleans?
I depart for New Orleans at first light- and I gotta admit I am fired up. The boys are coming home to the Superdome for the first time since Katrina- and it would take a real grouch to not feel cheer at that fact. Just seeing "TULANE" in all capital letters in the papers lifts, redeems the spirit. Even the New York Post, listing SMU -3 over Tulane, does not dampen my ardor. I’m 3-0 versus the spread to start, a nice rebound from last year’s 5-5 ATS mark- more reminiscent of the 9-1 mark posted in 2004.
I was a little surprised to see SMU open -2.5 over Tulane; I actually thought the Wave would be a slight home favorite. Which makes me wonder about Ricard’s health- particularly since the line has moved further away from Tulane (that is a big half-point: -2.5 to -3). The NFL forces teams to disclose injuries in pretty good detail- and accurately forecast their probability to play- which is why the casinos don’t list lines for pro teams with quarterback issues until the injury list is confirmed.
Tulane is under no such obligation- but I worry. I have a bad feeling that this line forecasts a gimpy or missing Ricard. I mean, I know Southern Methodist was a trendy pre-season C-USA selection for surprising competence- but should SMU be a road fave against anybody?
To be blunt, if Ricard is healthy and plays, Tulane is the solid selection here. True, Lester drives us all absolutely nuts- a unique combination of utter ennui and pathos. Every turnover is a brutal one, every tipped ball intercepted, he vever gets a break. But I cannot help but think good thoughts: Frank wallows and Frank drifts.
Imagine: Today, you are Lester Ricard- loping, as he does, in an oh-so-unique way onto the field, finding your way under center. Today, you are at home, under perfect conditions. Your young semi-okay offensive line provides consistent protection against the Mustang’s semi-okay defensive front. Like all second tier C-USA teams, SMU’s defensive backs cannot cover anyone- and Tulane’s best outfit, our solid collection of C- USA wideouts and Forte (a much better receiver than runner), roam free.
You are Lester, you smile- you are on the Yellow Submarine.
The “Yellow Submarine” was a waggish term I coined last year to describe Ricard’s three outstanding performances way back in 2004: Army, Navy and UAB- three games where he was at home, well protected and throwing to guys his opponents largely lacked the athleticism to cover. For the first time since '04, he ought to face those three conditions Saturday evening- and if he is healthy, I expect a big, no huge, day from him.
I really expect a healthy Ricard leading an aggressive, emotional, focused offense to hang 31-35 points up there. I guess I expect SMU to score a bunch too. The Mustang QB Willis increasingly appears to be one of the efficient passers that our League produces. Like Tulane, they have some nice C-USA skill position players- who I imagine will be roaming free through our nickel as well. Their top RB is out- but as we know, that doesn’t mean much against our defense. Just about anyone and any team goes for 150 total against the Tulane front.
Should be a stone cold C-USA shoot out- in the 30s, maybe 40s- we see that in our League with some regularity. It’ll be entertaining- and I am pumped to see it. It will be good to see our boys in green again- and it is hard to not take points when you think you are gonna score bunches. So, for the second time this year, give me Tulane and 3- but I don’t think they’ll need it. Tulane wins the game.