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Tulane 49 … at UAB 10

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 17, 2011


Week 3 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Tulane at UAB


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 3 - Tulane at UAB

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Sept. 17 at Tulane 49 … UAB 10
CFN Analysis: COMING

(AP) BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Ryan Griffin threw for three touchdowns and Orleans Darkwa rushed for two as Tulane routed Alabama-Birmingham 49-10 on Saturday.

The Green Wave (2-1, 1-1 Conference USA) outgained the Blazers 540 yards to 193 while holding possession of the ball for almost 42 minutes. Tulane returned two of its three interceptions for touchdowns.

After Darkwa scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter, UAB's Nick Adams returned the kickoff 92 yards to tie it at 7. Darkwa capped the Green Wave's next drive with a 2-yard touchdown.

Griffin, who was 22 of 26 for 281 yards, threw touchdown passes of 17 yards to Wilson Van Hooser, 19 yards to Joe Kemp and 1 yard to Matt Marfisi.

Tulane evened the series at 4-4, having lost to the Blazers (0-2, 0-1) in their previous two meetings in 2007 and 2008. UAB lost to Florida 39-0 in its season opener.

Tulane (1-1) at UAB (0-1) Sept. 17, 4:00

Here’s The Deal … These two teams will meet for the first time since 2008. After winning the season opener, Tulane suffered a 31-3 loss against Tulsa last week. Very little went right for the Green Wave offensively, as it was limited to 235 yards. This week’s game marks the beginning of a critical four-game stretch that also includes games against Duke, Army, and Syracuse. If Tulane wants to qualify for a bowl game, and save head coach Bob Toledo’s job, it must win at least three of these four contests.

UAB made its 2011 debut in the Swamp against Florida last week, losing 39-0. The Gators dominated on both sides of the ball, rolling up 512 yards of offense, and holding the Blazers to 212 yards. Despite this loss, expectations remain high for UAB, as 16 starters return from last year’s team that narrowly missed a bowl game. Another year's worth of experience should help them win some of the close games that they lost season, including a double-overtime loss to Tennessee, and a narrow defeat to Mississippi State. The winner of this game gets a much-needed conference win, and should have an excellent chance to qualify for a bowl game.

Why Tulane Might Win: The numbers for this season might not show it, but the Green Wave traditionally runs the ball well in conference play, averaging 152 yards per game in C-USA contests a year ago. The rushing attack will have a breakout game against a UAB run defense that never stopped Florida last week, yielding 300 yards and a whopping 5.5 yards per carry. By establishing the running game, the Green Wave will have more time to throw, as UAB will have to limit its pressure in order to stop the run. In addition to the running game, Tulane should win the turnover battle, as UAB regularly self-destructed on offense by turning the ball over last season. On the other hand, Tulane went 4-1 and last season when they won the turnover battle.

Why UAB Might Win: With seven starters from last season returning on the offensive side of the ball, including four of the five offensive linemen, the UAB offense will move the ball at will, especially through the air. Yes, the Blazers did struggle against Florida, but so would any other team from C-USA. However, despite these struggles last week, the UAB offensive line held their own by not allowing a sack against one of the SEC’s top defenses. With the line protecting QB Bryan Ellis, the Blazers will have plenty of time to find the open man. With added time to throw the ball, Ellis will have no trouble picking apart an inexperienced, but talented, Tulane secondary that gave up a number of big plays last week.

What To Watch Out For: Keep an eye out for Tulane RB Orleans Darkwa. The conference’s second leading rusher last year with 958 yards, Darkwa has gotten off to a slow start in 2011, rushing for only 87 yards after two games. However, Darkwa takes his game up a notch against top competition, rushing for 193 yards against SMU and 120 yards against UCF last year. The Green Wave will get the ball in his hands any way that it can.

For UAB, QB Bryan Ellis holds the keys to victory. The senior QB quietly threw for almost 3,000 yards last season, despite not getting his first start of the season until the fourth game. With star RB Pat Shed possibly out this week due to a hernia, the Blazers will need to pass the ball more this week. If Ellis continues to play like he did last season, it will be a very long day for the Tulane defense.

What Will Happen: Tulane will come out running the ball, and find some early success. However, UAB will start to take control of the game in the second quarter, winning the battle on both the offensive and defensive lines. With the Blazers dominating in trenches, they should pull away in the second half. UAB wins the contest, and takes a big step towards bowl-eligibility.

CFN Prediction: UAB 28 … Tulane 10
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