Wave Looks for Upset in Austin

September 27, 2003

Kyle Damborsky, <i>Hullabaloo</i> contributing writer

A sellout crowd of 83,000 Longhorn fans and a national television audience will watch the Green Wave try to continue its current winning streak as Tulane travels to Austin to battle the University of Texas. Standing in the way of a fourth-straight victory, the 13th-ranked Longhorns are coming off a 48-7 romping of former Southwest Conference rival Rice.

The Longhorns look for their third win this season behind a powerful ball control offense averaging 408 yards a game and a national-best 47.3 points per game. While impressive, Texas is by no means invincible. The Longhorns have already experienced one upset to then-unranked Arkansas in Texas's home stadium. The Longhorns will still have a considerable homefield advantage. The last time the Green Wave defeated UT was in Austin in 1908.

All time, Texas holds a 16-1-1 advantage in the series which began play in 1894. Gambling odds place Texas as a 29-point favorite, but Texas Head Coach Mack Brown asserts his team will not overlook Tulane's potential.

"They have great respect for Tulane's offense. Those guys move the ball as well as anybody and we're going to have to play well to slow them down. Their quarterback's great, they have great backs and receivers and they play hard on defense, so it will be a good test for us," Brown said.

Texas currently possesses the nation's top passing defense, though their previous three opponents lacked passing-oriented offenses. Tulane Head Coach Chris Scelfo is optimistic that Tulane's offense can move the ball against Texas.

"Our offense is all about us," Scelfo said. "If we execute, we should be able to move the ball and score."

Despite their national prowess, the Longhorns may struggle to find an answer for the one-two combination of senior quarterback J.P. Losman, the nation's leader in passing yards, and senior running back Mewelde Moore, the rushing backbone of Scelfo's run-and-shoot offense that averages 35.8 points per game.

Losman has thrown for over 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns so far this season, both tops in the NCAA. Brown coached at Tulane from 1985 to 1987, garnering a record of 11-23. Since leaving, Brown is 3-0 against Tulane with two wins at North Carolina and one last year with Texas, a 49-0 victory. While Brown anticipates success on the defensive side of the ball, another shutout seems unlikely.

"Tulane has been scoring a lot of points, so for us to be talking about a shutout would be ridiculous. They can throw the ball, and we didn't cover the pass well against Arkansas. I would think that if Tulane is studying our Arkansas film they would see the problem, so we need to play the pass better this week than we have been," Brown said.

The Tulane defense has played opportunistically throughout the year, leading the nation in takeaways with 15. The Wave's +2.25 turnover margin per game ranks second in the nation. Facing an opponent that leads the nation in scoring offense, Tulane will need to capitalize on turnovers to keep Texas honest. Tulane's 111th ranked defense could face some trauma should it fail to step up in Austin. Even if the oddsmakers are not showing much respect, Brown knows better than to look past his former team.

"Everyone in college football has some good players and it's hard to tell who the top teams are. We have told our players that they need to throw out all their expectations going into a game," Brown said. "They need to play hard and plan on the other team playing their best. That is what our guys are expecting from Tulane this weekend."

The game will be broadcast on TBS, with kickoff coming at 6 p.m.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000