Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin sees a Tulane team that plays with energy, is well coached and has quality depth.
In fact, what he sees is some Southeastern Conference-style characteristics for the next team facing his 17th-ranked Rebels (2-0) Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“When you watch them, you feel like you’re playing an SEC team,” Kiffin said. “There’s a reason they went down basically to the last minute of the game versus Oklahoma at Oklahoma.”
The performance Tulane (1-1) had in that opener against the then-No. 2 Sooners is enough to make the Rebels wary despite being favored by two touchdowns. The Green Wave outscored Oklahoma 21-3 in the second half of that 40-35 defeat, which Kiffin thinks is a credit to that depth.
“I think how hard they play, and they rotate a lot of guys on their whole defense,” he said. “They play really hard and I think it paid off for them later in the Oklahoma game. They fell behind early but I bet they would say they played better in the second half because they weren’t worn out.”
Tulane followed up that narrow miss with a 69-20 win over Morgan State while playing in Birmingham, Alabama because of Hurricane Ida's effects. The competitive opening effort especially could leave the Green Wave with extra confidence facing another ranked team.
“There are some similarities between both of them,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “They’re exactly the same family as far as, where they learned everything and all that, but they both are going to spread the ball around and they both have much better running games than people give them credit for.
”They really can run the ball effectively."
Tulane is seeking its first road win over a Top 25 team since a 27-23 victory over then-No. 19 Vanderbilt on Oct. 6, 1984.
Both teams are averaging in the neighborhood of 50 points a game, setting up a potential shootout. Tulane's 52-point average ranks fourth nationally, while Ole Miss is seventh at 48.5 points per game.
“I think we’re gonna have to score some points. There’s no question about it,” Fritz said. “We have to do a good job controlling the ball.”
Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 12 of his games, and had a TD passing and running in eight of them. The Rebels' Matt Corral has scoring passes in 14 consecutive games. Only Eli Manning (16) and Chad Kelly (22) have produced longer streaks for Ole Miss.
TD STREAKS II
Dating back to last season, the Rebels' Dontario Drummond has a touchdown catch in seven consecutive games. He has three through the first two weeks of the season. Drummond also has three straight 100-yard receiving games after needing 22 games to record his first.
Tulane posted a reminder of its SEC past on Twitter, pinning a Tweet with a helmet saying “SEC CHAMPS 34 39 49." The Green Wave were SEC members until the 1960s and won titles in 1934, 1939 and 1949. The Rebels' last league championship in football, incidentally came in 1963.
Kiffin knows there's a perception that his offenses are all about the pass. They do manage some balance. Henry Parrish, Jerrion Ealy, Snoop Conner and Corral are all averaging 40-plus rushing yards per game. Only two other FBS teams have four players doing that.
“Whatever, it doesn’t really bother me, but there’s a perception that we or teams that I coach just throw the ball,” Kiffin said. “I don’t really know why that is the case.”
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