Matchup: FAU (4-6, 3-3 AAC) vs #17 Tulane (9-1, 6-0 AAC)
When: Saturday, November 18th, 12:00 PM
Where: Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium
Live Reactions: YouTube
Radio: FoxSports 640
Opening Line: FAU +9
Weather Forecast: Current conditions in Boca Raton, FL
The Series: This will be the Owls' second matchup in program history against Tulane, winning 34-17 in their first encounter back in 2013. FAU is 6-9 all-time against AAC opponents.
Tulane Team Site: Here
It will be all hands on deck for the Owls from here on out, needing to win out the remainder of their regular season to fight for bowl eligibility after a disappointing defeat to the East Carolina Pirates at home.
They will now be hosting a nationally-ranked opponent for the first time in program history with 17th-ranked Tulane coming to town. It has been 10 years since the Green Wave last visited Schnellenberger Field, where they fell 34-17 to the Owls in 2013. Notable FAU alumni from that contest include the likes of Jaquez Johnson, William Dukes, Andrae Kirk, Jeremy McKnight, Brandin Bryant, Trevon Coley, and D'Joun Smith.
With the Owls' secondary being banged up, an unexpected number was called up to fill the starting role, which was safety Kaelen Skipper's (pictured below via Bob Markey II). Having battled with injuries throughout the past few seasons including a torn achilles, he wound up being one of the top tacklers against the Pirates, finishing with seven (four solo) while breaking up a pass.
"I'm just grateful to be back. It's been a long journey and it's definitely made things a lot more worth it," Skipper said.
"I feel like I just was doing my job. Everybody else is in the right places, and that allowed me to be able to make those plays."
It may have been a blessing in disguise that wide receiver Lajohntay Wester did not break the all-time single season record in receiving yards against East Carolina, because he now has the chance to do it in a bigger spotlight against Tulane. He needs at least 42 yards to pass Cortez Gent to claim the top spot, so keep an eye on him to have a better performance.
Also keep tabs on safety Jarron Morris and linebacker Jaylen Wester. Morris made his third interception this past Saturday, which is now a team-high as it's the most since Dwight Toombs II intercepted three passes last year. As for the latter, Wester has gained more traction as a starter with eight tackles (six solo) including 3.5 for a loss of yardage. His agility and persistence in making stops could help the Owls in breaking down Tulane's offensive line.
After this matchup, FAU will head out on the road to Texas for their season finale against Rice on November 25th at 1:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Star Watch: DL Evan Anderson With Tulane possessing a strong run game, expect Anderson to command the defensive line in reducing the production opposing tailbacks could have on Saturday. He has made a total of 47 tackles (19 solo) including a team-high 3.5 sacks for a loss of 12 yards. With his big frame and strength, his ability to stop the Green Wave's run plays as soon as they emerge will be put to the test.
Final Word It's now or never for the Owls if they wish to keep their quest for bowl eligibility alive for one more game. With Tulane having a vulnerability in preventing teams from scoring in the red zone, that is an area FAU needs to take advantage of early on throughout the day.
Denying the Green Wave's run game from flourishing will also be crucial, which is where Tulane will most likely utilize if their pass game is not at it best. Expect Daniel Richardson and Lajohntay Wester to come up big in the home finale, as history could be in store for the Owls should they emerge victorious.
Key Stats Comparison
Green Wave Notes
Tulane has the pleasure of being the first nationally-ranked opponent FAU has ever hosted at Schnellenberger Field. With bowl eligibility already clinched, the Green Wave now look to secure the right to host the conference championship following the end of the regular season on December 2nd with a win on Saturday.
The Green Wave are 9-1 on the season for the first time under head coach Willie Fritz, and the first time since 1998 (sixth overall) they have achieved this record or better. Their recent win over Tulsa made Tulane 21-3 in its last 24 games over the last two seasons. No Tulane squad has ever won 20 games over a two-year period of time.
Limiting the production of quarterback Michael Pratt would be key for the Owls' defense. Pratt has a touchdown-interception ratio of 16:4, making him a difficult matchup for opponents attempting to disrupt his rhythm to put him tough situations. He has thrown for 1,791 yards on 134 completions for an accuracy of 68%, giving him a strong QB rating of 167.13.
There are three receivers who have 400 or more yards for the Green Wave: Lawrence Keys III, Chris Brazzell II, and Jha'Quan Jackson. Keys III tops the unit in receiving yards with 599, catches with 33, and touchdowns with seven. Brazzell II has 474 yards and a pair of scores on 29 receptions, while Jackson gained up to 421 yards and four touchdowns on 24 catches.
FAU should also be aware of Tulane's special teams. Wide receiver Shedro Louis had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the win against Tulsa, exactly one year after the last 100-yard kickoff return by an American Athletic Conference player (Jadon Thompson of Cincinnati against East Carolina Nov. 11, 2022).
Tulane has a lot of players capable of making plays on defense. Linebacker Jesus Machado is the undisputed leader in tackles with 77 (41 solo) while making an interception, breaking up one pass, and getting one quarterback hurry. Defensive back Lance Robinson tops the team in interceptions with four alongside seven pass breakups, while defensive end Devean Deal has the most tackles for loss with 10, which have resulted in a loss of 38 yards.
With the conclusion of this contest, Tulane will return home to New Orleans for their regular-season finale against UTSA on November 24th at 2:30 PM. The game will be broadcast on ABC.
Star Watch: RB Makhi Hughes Hughes led the charge against Tulsa with his 131 yards and a touchdown, his sixth straight game topping the century mark on the ground. His 31-yard rush on the final drive helped sealed the victory over the Golden Hurricane. The yardage also allowed him to become the first Tulane freshman to ever reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season and only the eighth different Tulane player to hit the mark. He currently has 1,008 rushing yards, ranking 15th in the country, while reaching the end zone six times on 185 carries.
Final Word Even with a talented quarterback in Michael Pratt, Tulane has shown a strong presence in using the run game, and rightfully so. Makhi Hughes has shown himself to be a non-stop reliable option for the Green Wave offense to go to, which is something FAU has to figure out how to neutralize him. With a chance at hosting the conference championship game at stake after having their best season in years, don't think Tulane will take this game lightly.