TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulane will try to avoid another last-second loss to Tulsa on Saturday.
In 2020, Tulsa's Zaven Collins — now a starting linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals — intercepted a pass from Michael Pratt and returned it 96 yards for the game-clinching touchdown in the second overtime. The extra time was only necessary because Tulsa's Davis Brin connected with JuanCarlos Santana for a 37-yard touchdown pass on the last play of regulation.
“That one stung a lot,” Tulane linebacker Nick Anderson said. “It left a bad taste in our mouth for the past two years.”
Last season, the Green Wave overcame a 13-3 fourth quarter deficit and had a chance to win at the end of regulation. But a 26-yard field goal attempt by Merek Glover — Tulane’s all-time leading scorer — missed, and Tulsa won 20-13 in overtime.
“They’re all tough," said Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. "Unfortunately, you remember those.”
Pratt and the 19th-ranked Green Wave (7-1, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) are looking forward to getting another shot at the Golden Hurricane.
“That’s the way games go," Pratt said. "But you’ve got to just keep stacking on, learn from experiences, and move forward. I know there is extra motivation knowing that we had both of those games in the bag.”
Turning things around has been a theme for the Green Wave this season — Tulane finished 2-10 in 2021.
For Tulsa (3-5, 1-3), promising season has turned south, making this game critical if the Golden Hurricane want a realistic shot at going to a bowl game and having a third consecutive winning season.
After struggling with injuries in 2021, Pratt has begun to fulfill the potential when he took over the starting job as a freshman in 2020.
This week, Pratt was among 40 college QBs named as 2022 nominees for the Davey O’Brien award.
Pratt has completed 131 of his 194 passes with 12 touchdowns against just three interceptions for 1,718 yards this season. He also has 215 yards and five TDs rushing. And his play is a big reason Tulane entered the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1998 and the CFP rankings for the first time.
Pratt has a TD pass in 28 of 29 career games and his 53 career scoring passes ranks sixth in Green Wave history.
Brin, who after three games was leading the nation in passing yardage per game (402), injured an ankle in Tulsa's next game, and hasn’t been as successful since. He injured his non-throwing left shoulder last week against SMU on a second half touchdown run. Redshirt freshman Braylon Braxton came in and played well. Braxton has a strong arm and is more of a runner than Brin.
Brin was Tulsa’s third-string quarterback coming into the 2020 Tulane game. When Zach Smith and Seth Boomer both got injured, Brin came in for his first meaningful playing time with Tulsa trailing 14-0. He completed 18 of 28 of 266 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another score to spur the win. Tulsa went undefeated in conference play that year before losing at Cincinnati 27-24 in the AAC championship game.
Tulane has outscored its opponents 60-12 in the first quarter. In the last game, the Green Wave jumped out to a 35-0 lead at home against Memphis and won 38-28.
“In their last several games, they’re coming out of the gates and they’re starting really fast,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “So we have to match that intensity part of it.”
On the other hand, Tulsa has given up very early touchdowns in several games. In the 45-34 home loss to SMU last week, the Mustangs scored on a 75-yard pass to the nation’s leading receiver, Rashee Rice, on the first play from scrimmage.
TOP 25 PRESSURE
With Tulane’s No. 19 ranking and the AAC lead on the line, the stakes are high.
“We’re not really too concerned with the rankings,” Pratt said. “We’ve just got to keep playing well and keep winning. and everything will take of itself.”