(AP) — Tulane is one victory away from becoming bowl eligible.
South Florida isn’t likely to go bowling, but it is coming off one of its best performances of the season as it prepares to host the Green Wave in an American Athletic Conference game Saturday in Tampa.
Tulane (5-1, 2-0) had a school-record streak of three straight bowl appearances snapped when it plummeted to a 2-10 record last season. But it has bounced back strong.
The Green Wave defense is ranked No. 4 nationally against the pass (151.0 yards per game), No. 7 in scoring (13.3 points per game) and No. 15 in total yards (286.2).
“We’re doing a good job of keeping things in front of us,” head coach Willie Fritz said. “We’re doing a good job tackling and playing with leverage.”
Tulane opened eyes last month with a 14-10 road victory against Kansas State, which is now ranked No. 17. Now the Green Wave are receiving votes in the Associated Press poll.
“I think we’re the last team that should be looking ahead,” Fritz said. “I remember last year.”
The Bulls (1-5, 0-2) already have played three ranked teams. Last week they led then-No. 24 Cincinnati in the fourth quarter before falling 28-24 on the road.
It was similar to a 31-28 loss at then No. 18 Florida on Sept. 17, which started USF’s current four-game losing streak.
“We’ve shown that we can play at a very high level against two good teams on the road,” Bulls coach Jeff Scott said. “We’ve had to play at a high level each and every week.”
USF did not respond well to the loss to Florida, losing 41-3 at Louisville the next week.
“We’ve got to respond a lot better,” Scott said. “We’ve got to learn from what happened between Florida and Louisville and make sure that doesn’t happen between Cincinnati and Tulane.”
The Bulls are playing at home for the first time since Sept. 10, when they defeated Howard 42-20. Their Oct. 1 game against East Carolina was moved to Boca Raton because of Hurricane Ian.
–Field Level Media