That’s all you need.
The bare minimum.
We’ve all been there. Aside from the overachievers, the rest of us know what it’s like to squeeze on by with the bare minimum. I can’t tell you how many report cards, tests, papers, and projects I’ve had in my life where the difference between a 79 and 80 was a matter of life and death. Humans construct arbitrary lines between success and failure all the time.
In college football, the bare minimum is 6-6, and it’s a Big Fucking Deal (if I may steal a phrase from the former VP Joe Biden) to reach it. It’s the difference between going to a bowl game and sitting at home all December developing a severe case of FOMO. Bowl games might not matter in the grand scheme of things, but they matter to coaches and players. It’s the pot of gold at the end of a long season. Often coaches that go 6-6 get to stick around, coaches that go 5-7 a bunch don’t.
This predicament is what Tulane and Temple face going into the final week. Both AAC schools are sitting at 5-6 and in desperate need of a win to secure that bowl invite. Let’s take a look.
Tulane Green Wave (5-6, 3-4) vs. SMU Mustangs (6-5, 3-4)
Time: November 25, 2017 12 pm EST
Where: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
TV: CBS Sports Network
Odds: SMU -7.5, O/U = 67
Series: Tulane leads 13-10 (’16 SMU 35-31)
Tulane is fresh off an emotional win on Senior Day over Houston 20-17 that kept its bowl hopes alive. The Green Wave played their most complete offensive game of the year. Showing balance rarely seen from Willie Fritz coached teams (251 yards passing, 166 yards rushing).
Tulane QB Jonathan Banks threw for a personal best 251 yards in the win, on 17 of 25 pass attempts. He added 68 yards on 18 carries. Banks is healthy for the first time since a week two rib injury.
Senior Dontrell Hilliard had 52 yards on 18 yards to become the Wave’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Andre Anderson in 2009. Hilliard sits fifth all-time in Tulane history with 2,906 career yards, he has 1,049 yards on 197 carries with 11 TDs this season.
WR Terren Encalade had eight catches, 186 yards in the upset over Houston. Look for Banks to target Encalade, a whole bunch.
Tulane enters the game ranked 22nd nationally in rushing offense and 13th in the nation in time of possession. The Wave will go up against an SMU team with an offense that averages 40.1 points per game. It won’t be an easy task.
SMU is on a three-game losing streak after losing last week to Memphis 66-45. It’s going to be Senior Day in University Park, Texas. Chad Morris will have the Mustangs up for this game. Even though SMU wrapped up bowl eligibility four weeks ago, nobody likes to lose on Senior Day.
SMU sophomore QB Ben Hicks and his trio of receivers in Trey Quinn, Courtland Sutton, and James Proche lead the Mustangs. They’ve combined for 193 catches and 2,722 yards. Xavier Jones is averaging over 6 yards a carry at RB, while Braeden West averages 8. The Parry Nickerson and the Tulane defense will have its hands full Saturday afternoon.
Desperation makes for exciting television, this matchup certainly has that. I’m going to check this game out at noon on CBS Sports Network.
Prediction: Tulane 34-24
Temple Owls (5-6, 3-4) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (2-9, 1-6)
Time: November 25, 2017, 4:00 PM ET
Where: Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK
Odds: Temple -3, O/U = 59
Series: Tulsa leads 2-1 (’14 Temple 35-24)
Temple’s journey to bowl eligibility sounds more like a Spaghetti Western. “A bunch of kids from Philly travel west to Tulsa in search of a bid to the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (yes, that’s an actual thing).” The Owls face a pesky 2-9 Tulsa Golden Hurricane team that is 5-6 against the spread; they’re better than their record suggests.
Temple had a rough game against No. 15 UCF last week, committing five turnovers in the 45-19 drubbing. While Tulsa played USF tough in a 27-20 loss, it will be Senior Day in Tulsa, and the emotions will be flowing.
Temple’s senior class needs just one win to set a school record. They’ve battled a tremendous amount of injuries this season, but Geoff Collins is eager to finish the drill nonetheless for the seniors.
The Owls are led by Frankie “Juice” Nutile at QB who took over in week eight after Logan Marchi went down. The 6-4 220 junior has played pretty well overall but had a rough game against UCF. He threw 2 TDs and 4 INTs on 17-40 and 201 yards.
Juice’s favorite target is WR Adonis Jennings; the duo has combined for 293 yards and four touchdowns. Isaiah Wright, Keith Kirkwood, and Ventell Bryant are all productive receivers for Temple as well. Ryquell Armstead and David Hood split carries in the backfield.
Tulsa QB Luke Skipper suffered a concussion last week vs. USF and is unlikely to play Saturday. Instead, Chad President is expected to start. President is the more mobile of the two QBs with 64 carries 394 yards, 6.2 YPC, and 9 TDs on the ground this season. Skipper and President have split time at the helm all year, so Philip Montgomery’s Hurricanes are prepared to go without Skipper.
RB D’Angelo Brewer and WRs Justin Hobbs and are Tulsa’s most dangerous offensive players. S McKinley Whitfield and LB Cooper Edmiston lead Tulsa’s defense with 103 and 92 tackles respectively.
Tulsa is averaging over 30 points a game and will; challenge Geoff Collins’ defense. I expect a close, hard fought affair Saturday, but Temple’s bowl game motivation might just prove to be enough.
Prediction: Temple 21-10