Monday, June 28, 2010

Retrospective (#15-#11)

Retrospective installment three kicks off today. Today’s survey features all victories for Tulane- and Frank Helps You Think It All Out revisits the 1987 collective in some detail.

#15 Tulane 38; Southwestern Louisiana 10 (November 14, 1987)

Since I began following the Green Wave in 1987, I think I have followed five “good teams”: the two Bowden Outfits, Scelfo’s Hawai’i Bowl team, the high-flyin’ 2000 outfit, and Mack Brown’s 1987 Independence Bowl run.

This game was sort of the capstone of the Mack Brown experience. Mack had taken over a program semi-devastated by the Gibson and English follies and steadily built a nifty entertaining independent.

This USL game unfurled probably the greatest game ever played by a Tulane WR prior to the cartoon number C-USA era- Marc Zeno, 12 catches, 238 yards, 2TDs.

In a lot of ways, this game was more a turning point than Katrina, the review or the perfect season. This was the last time the Wave walked off the field victorious as a “good” tier one program playing a national schedule. Nine of twelve games were versus what are today BCS schools. There was a clear route for downtrodden independents, particularly southern independents, maturing to real powers: Florida State, Miami, Southern Mississippi, Louisville (the Schnellenberger resurgence). Major college talents littered the Tulane roster: Marc Zeno and Terrence Jones.

Tulane has had good on-field success since-but never playing this sort of schedule week in, week out.

#14 Tulane 42; Navy 10 (November 6, 2004)

This was a darn good Navy outfit (finished 10-2, won the Emerald Bowl, only other loss was to Notre Dame) that came in a 12.5 road fave... and got destroyed.

Lester Ricard was a darned good quarterback with the hugely important proviso of having excellent protection. The he was capable of this sort of destruction: 18 of 19 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Roydell Williams caught six of those balls for 148 and two scores. Jovon Jackson and Matt Forte rushed for just shy of 200 yards.

But the real story was the Tulane defense, who played the arguably the best, certainly the most physical game of the Scelfo era. Presented with a lead and Navy team whose singular weakness was the quarterback passing, the Wave played with gusto, really got after people in a very satisfying upset win.

Showing the age of the blog, this game was covered on Frank Helps You Think It All Out.

#13 Tulane 25; Iowa State 12 (September 12, 1987)

Back to 1987 again. The Cyclones were coming off a decent 6-5 season- and figured to be a decent test for the emerging Tulane Green Wave. The Wave had opened the season with a sloppy 42-40 loss to the last of Howard Schnellenberger’s bad Louisville outfits. Another loss meant an 0-2 start with the real schedule heavyweights yet to come- and the probable end of the eventual Bowl bid.

The Wave didn’t play great again. But perhaps that was a mark of a team on the rise, able to win pretty convincingly despite the second rate effort. The offense rode the amazing Mark Zeno again: 9 catches, 135 yards, 2TDs.

Plus, it was the home opener- and that success brought 40K+ for Ole Miss, and other good crowds, down the road.

#12 Tulane 32, Mississippi State 29 (September 16, 2006)

Again, for a guy who "simply could not coach", Scelfo turned in quite a few double-digit underdog style upsets. Here, after being routed the week before (looking horrible at Houston- Eagles’ quarterback Kevin Kolb went for 350 yards passing), Tulane went on the road as an 11-point underdog, and picked up the sole road SEC win of this millennium.

It was a brutally hot day- but the stars played well- Lester Ricard completed 16-of-23 passes for 298 yards and four scores. Matt Forte had one of his best games- going for 29-170.

Then the defense folded when presented with a deep reserve quarterback- and a 32-7 lead going into the fourth quarter became a little too dramatic. Still a good win over a Bulldog team loaded with players who would later that year beat a good Alabama team and then win eight games the following season.

This game was covered on Frank Helps You Think It All Out.

#11 Tulane 59; UAB 55 (October 24, 2004)

Mack Brown’s brother Watson had UAB 5-1 (good wins over Baylor and Mississippi State included) and an 18 point favorite coming in to Tulane’s 2004 Homecoming. What spun out was the most entertaining tilt of the Scelfo era- just wild. Roddy White going for 253 yards, flashing that first round talent. Seven alternating TDs in the fourth quarter. UAB taking the lead with 1:43 to go. Ricard (36-49, 417 yards, a record six TDs) threw the winning TD pass with 27 seconds left on a great individual effort by Chris Bush.

The game threw a lot of routine conventions about Tulane on its head. Tad Gormley had an electric, enthusiastic crowd- despite a mid-day kickoff, a hot day (90+ in those stands), and a nearly four hour game. The Wave was a 18 point ‘dog- but here we have yet another double digit underdog win, featuring an aggressive, entertaining game plan from the dope Scelfo.

Ultimately, this Tulane team wasn’t very good: the defense was obviously problematic, Forte was a chief 2004 underachiever, and Ricard was only good under very specific optimal conditions. But what an exhilarating, gutty performance.

This game was covered on Frank Helps You Think It All Out.