Army is headed to a bowl already. Tulane is suddenly looking as if it could extend its own bowl streak.
The nonconference foes will face off Saturday when the Black Knights (6-1) visit the Green Wave (4-4, 2-4 American Athletic Conference) in New Orleans.
Army became the first team to accept a bowl invitation this season when it reached six victories by defeating Mercer 49-3 on Oct. 24. The Black Knights are scheduled to face a Pac-12 opponent in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26 in Shreveport, La.
But the focus this week is a trip to southern Louisiana to play for the first time in three weeks.
The Black Knights had an open date on Halloween, and their Commander in Chief Trophy game against Air Force scheduled for last Saturday was postponed because of COVID-19 issues within the Air Force Academy.
Nonetheless, a young Army squad received the 27th-best vote total for this week's Associated Press Top 25.
"We're playing a lot of guys that don't really have a lot of game experience in some skilled positions, particularly the quarterback position," Army coach Jeff Monken said.
Freshman Cade Ballard and sophomore Tyhier Tyler have shared the quarterback position the past two games. Neither was even listed on the depth chart in early September before the Black Knights sustained multiple injuries at the position.
"I'm really excited to see them get some game experience and build the reps that they frankly haven't had in practice," Monken said of the quarterbacks.
The Green Wave defeated the host Black Knights 42-33 on their way to the Armed Forces Bowl last season.
Tulane has won bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history and has never gone to bowls in three consecutive seasons.
Another bowl trip seemed unlikely when Tulane started the season 2-4, losing its first four AAC games. But the prospects for another bowl trip are much better after consecutive wins against Temple and East Carolina with games against Tulsa and Memphis still to come following the Army matchup.
"I like where we are right now," Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. "It sure looks a lot better that it did two weeks ago. The guys did a good job fighting through a lot of adversity and getting back to even."
The improved play of Tulane's run defense and especially its defensive line has been important the last two weeks. The Green Wave held Temple to 77 rushing yards on 36 attempts, then limited East Carolina to 35 yards on 29 rushes.
They had five sacks against the Pirates, including three by lineman Patrick Johnson, who became the school's career sack leader in the process.
Tulane has the No. 3 rushing offense in the AAC, averaging 230.8 yards per game.
Freshman quarterback Michael Pratt has thrown five touchdown passes in the past two games and has 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in six games this season.
"The defense has to choose one," Pratt said of the Green Waves' rushing and passing attacks. "If they are going to load the box, we are going to spread the field out. No matter what they do, we are able to execute."
--Field Level Media
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