Tulane is the highest-rated Group of Five team in the College Football Playoff rankings.
The No. 23 Green Wave (8-1, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) can claim a New Year's Six bowl berth for a second consecutive season if they keep winning. They face Tulsa (3-6, 1-4) on Saturday in New Orleans.
Tulane has won seven straight games since a 37-20 loss to Ole Miss on Sept. 9, but the last few games have been a struggle.
"If we're going to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish," coach Willie Fritz said, "we've got to play better in all three phases. We've got to play all four quarters and that's what we're chasing right now."
Fritz said "not winning by enough points" is "a good problem to have," but also acknowledged that his team has yet to play to its potential.
Three weeks ago, Tulane saw a three-touchdown lead against North Texas go by the boards before needing a late touchdown and defensive stop to prevail 35-28. The Green Wave wrote a similar script a week later at Rice when they took a 27-7 halftime lead and held on for a 30-28 victory.
Last week, Tulane fell behind East Carolina, 10-0, before pulling out a 13-10 win.
"Our guys never wavered on the sideline or in the locker room," Fritz said.
The Green Wave allowed 143 yards in the first quarter, but just 47 yards in the final three quarters. The offense managed 10 second-quarter points, a tie-breaking field goal early in the fourth quarter and held the ball for the final 7:17.
Michael Pratt sneaked for a first down on fourth-and-1 at the Pirates' 5 and kneeled out the clock.
"It's always good when your offense finishes with the ball and you're ahead," Fritz said.
The Hurricane has lost their last four games. After getting embarrassed at SMU 69-10 on Oct. 28, it had a 17-0 lead against visiting Charlotte before losing 33-26 in overtime last Saturday.
"We let that one get away," coach Kevin Wilson said.
Wilson added that he has been pleased with the players' attitude and effort amid the losing streak.
"They want to win," Wilson said. "They want to finish the season strong. I want these guys to have success. We have a great opportunity. We're playing a Top 25 team on the road. It's going to be tough, it's going to be challenging. But it's a great opportunity and we're going to try and max it out to see if we can perform better and get the result we want."
Wilson said, "we've got throw the football better," but that might be difficult with uncertainty at quarterback. Braylon Braxton was the starter before being injured. Cardell Williams replaced him, but Braxton returned to start the last three games.
Braxton, Williams and true freshman Kirk Francis all played against Charlotte, but Williams injured his throwing shoulder and his status for Tulane is uncertain.
Despite the losing streak, the Hurricane can still get bowl eligible. But it will take a quick and dramatic turnaround.
"We've got to play better," Wilson said. "Our season has an ending point and we want to prolong that."
--Field Level Media
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