The USC Trojans have their bowl opponent: the Tulane Green Wave. After Lincoln Riley’s team suffered heartbreak against Utah once again (this time in the Pac-12 title game), the Trojans go from a College Football Playoff spot to the Cotton Bowl.
Still, a New Year’s Six Bowl in the first year of the Riley era is a step in the right direction, and there is a lot to love about a USC-Tulane matchup in Texas.
With the Cotton Bowl nearly a month away, let’s take a look at Tulane’s season and examine some of the key players as the Trojans try to finish the season with a bowl victory.
QB MICHAEL PRATT
Green Wave QB Michael Pratt has been fantastic this season and a huge reason for his team’s success. Here are his numbers after the Green Wave won the AAC:
2,776 yards passing
25 passing touchdowns
395 rushing yards with 10 rushing scores
RB TYJAE SPEARS
Another reason for the success is Tulane Rb Tyjae Spears, who has been one of the best in the nation with eye-popping numbers: He finished with 1,376 yards and 15 scores on 212 carries.
Tulane’s defense has four players with two interceptions each and four players with 50 or more tackles.
WR SHAE WYATT
Shae Wyatt leads Tulane in receiving (692 yards and seven scores on 35 catches) and Duece Watts is right behind (31 grabs for 574 yards and eight scores).
TULANE WEEK 1
The Green Wave defeated UMass, 42-10. Tyjae Spears began his spectacular season with three rushing scores on just 12 carries, and UMass had just 17 passing yards.
TULANE WEEK 2
Tulane defeated Alcorn State, 52-0. Pratt threw three scores and Alcorn State had just 109 TOTAL yards as the Green Wave scored 31 first-half points.
TULANE WEEK 3
Tulane defeated Kansas State, 17-10, on the road in the first statement win of the year. Pratt struggled with just 176 yards and two INTs, but he threw the game-winning score with less than six minutes left in the game.
TULANE WEEK 4
Tulane lost to Southern Miss, 27-24, in a frustrating game for Willie Fritz’s team. Spears had 114 yards and a pair of scores, but Southern Miss scored 17 second-half points and benefited from a pick-six to get the victory over Tulane.
TULANE WEEK 5
Tulane defeated Houston by a familiar score of 27-24. Kai Horton got the start at QB and answered the call with 132 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Spears in overtime.
TULANE WEEK 6
Tulane defeated East Carolina, 24-9. Pratt returned and threw a pair of scores and rushed for another. East Carolina surprisingly outgained Tulane in total yards, 419-391.
TULANE WEEK 7
Tulane won a high-scoring affair against South Florida, 45-31. The Green Wave scored 14 points in each of the final three quarters, and Spears had 151 yards and two touchdowns on the day to lead the way. Pratt had four total scores, including two on the ground, and Tulane had 564 total yards.
TULANE WEEK 8
Tulane defeated Memphis, 38-28. The Green Wave scored 35 points in the first half in a dominant performance. Pratt had just 158 yards passing and one score, but they rushed for 186 yards and forced four turnovers against the Tigers.
TULANE WEEK 9
Tulane defeated Tulsa, 27-13. Spears had another outstanding performance with 157 yards and a score on just 14 carries, and Shaadie Clayton rushed well with 14 carries and 106 yards. The Green Wave rushed for a combined 357 yards on Tulsa in a dominant effort.
TULANE WEEK 10
Tulane fell to UCF in a nailbiter, 38-31. The Green Wave gave up 17 first-quarter points and couldn’t overcome an early deficit. Spears had 130 yards on 8 carries, including a 70-yard rush, and Pratt threw three touchdowns. However, UCF rushed for 336 yards with QB John Rhys Plumlee leading the way with176 yards and a pair of scores on 18 carries.
TULANE WEEK 11
Tulane bounced back and crushed SMU, 59-24. The Green Wave scored 21 points in both the first and third quarters, and Pratt had six total touchdowns (three in the air and three on the ground) as Spears had 121 yards and two scores of his own.
TULANE WEEK 12
Tulane defeated Cincinnati, 27-24. Pratt threw the game-winning score to Duece Watts with less than six minutes left, and the Green Wave rode Spears all game long — he had 35 carries for 181 yards and two scores.
TULANE WEEK 13
Tulane got revenge against UCF when it mattered most with a 45-28 victory. UCF got within striking distance and brought the game to 31-28 in the fourth quarter, but the Green Wave scored twice in the final 10 minutes to get the victory and the AAC title.
Fritz has made multiple national championship games at the FCS level with Sam Houston State.
He won a Sun Belt regular-season title at Georgia Southern.
He led Tulane to bowl seasons three straight years, the first time Tulane achieved the feat.
TULANE'S LAST NEW YEAR'S SIX BOWL
The 1940 Sugar Bowl.
Tulane lost 14-13 to Texas A&M.
TULANE PLAYED USC IN A BOWL GAME
The 1932 Rose Bowl: USC beat Tulane, 21-12.
TULANE IN NEW YEAR'S SIX BOWLS ALL-TIME
Tulane made three appearances, going 1-2. This is Tulane’s first Cotton Bowl.
THEY SUPPOSED TO BE SEC
Tulane was a member of the Southeastern Conference — yes, the SEC — from 1933 through 1965.
Clark Shaughnessy modernized the T formation in college football and is one of the game’s first great innovators. He also coached college basketball at Tulane.
The former Tulane coach opposed USC and Howard Jones in the 1932 Rose Bowl. He eventually became a five-time national championship head coach at the University of Minnesota and is one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.
One decade before he became head coach at USC, Smith coached Tulane in the late 1970s. He moved to Arizona and then replaced Ted Tollner at USC.
Brown learned how to be a head coach at Tulane in the 1980s before moving to North Carolina, then Texas. Brown is now back with North Carolina and will face Oregon in the Holiday Bowl.
Bobby Bowden’s son led Tulane to a 12-0 season in 1998. Bowden then went to Clemson. Bowden’s offensive coordinator in 1998 at Tulane was Rich Rodriguez, who won the Sugar Bowl at West Virginia in 2005 and became the head coach at Michigan and Arizona.
The former UCLA coach is the last man to lead the Bruins to a Pac-10 Conference title, in 1998. He later coached Tulane.
GROUP OF FIVE IN NEW YEAR'S SIX GAMES
The Group of Five champion is 3-5 in eight NY6 games. The Group of Five started 3-1 (2014-2017) but has lost its last four games. UCF’s 2018 Peach Bowl win over Auburn is the last time the Group of Five champion won its NY6 bowl.