(AP) — With its fourth American Athletic Conference game looming this season, Tulane finds itself in rare territory – as an Associated Press Top 25 team.
The No. 25 Green Wave (6-1, 3-0) will be back home in New Orleans on Saturday looking to keep the top spot in the AAC when they host Memphis (4-3, 2-2).
When Sunday’s rankings were released, the Green Wave ascended out of the AP’s “others receiving votes” category and crested in the final position in the poll. That marks the first time this century that Tulane has been ranked.
The most recent ranking was in 1998, a season in which quarterback Shaun King guided the Green Wave to a 12-0 record and the No. 7 spot in the final poll after beating BYU 41-27 in the Liberty Bowl.
In a current season highlighted by a 17-10 road win over Kansas State, Tulane has found success largely because of quarterback Michael Pratt.
For the second consecutive game, Pratt set a career-high in passing yardage — going 23 of 35 for 329 yards with two touchdowns in his squad’s 45-31 win over South Florida.
The junior has passed for 1,560 yards and 11 TDs this season, with three interceptions, while completing 67.3 percent of his throws.
“I think one of the biggest things is the depth that we have at every position,” Pratt said. “I think we have a lot of talent all across the board. That’s something we emphasize, getting a lot of different guys in. It’s been really good to see the offensive line blocking its butt off. We have really good (running) backs. … When we can run the ball effectively, that opens up everything else.
“We’ve got guys that can win one-on-one (battles) and make great plays.”
After winning four consecutive contests following a season-opening 49-23 loss at Mississippi State, Memphis has lost consecutive games by a total of three points.
Still stinging from a 33-32 home defeat against Houston, when the Cougars rallied from a 26-7 fourth-quarter deficit, the Tigers fell again in a four-overtime setback at East Carolina last week.
Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan’s 13-yard scoring pass to Joseph Scates with 19 seconds to play forced overtime. The teams then matched scores, including a pair of two-point conversions in the third OT, before ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers’ pass to C.J. Johnson finished the wild affair.
For the fourth time in two seasons and for the second straight week, the Tigers watched a double-digit lead transform from joy to dismay.
“Obviously, (that’s) a heartbreaking loss, disappointed we didn’t find a way to finish it up at the end,” Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said. “The biggest thing for us right now is playing a complete game for four quarters. That’s one thing we’re not doing, (but) we’re seeing flashes of some pretty good stuff.”
Some of that stuff was Henigan (27 of 37, 407 yards, two TDs) and a pair of 100-yard receivers in Scates (five receptions for 112 yards, TD) and Caden Prieskorn (six catches, 104 yards).
Memphis kicker Chris Howard was named AAC Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday after kicking three fields at ECU. Howard is 14 of 14 on field goals this season.
–Field Level Media