Nick Montana

The Fifth Quarter: Week 10 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

CONFERENCE CHASES CLEARING UP
With some added clarity (in most cases) in Week 10, we’ll take a quick trip through each of the Power Five conference races and see exactly (again, in most cases) where things stand with five weeks left in the regular season.

ACC

Atlantic
This is one of the easiest one in the country to figure out.  All Florida State (5-0) has to do is avoid losing two of its last three games while Clemson (5-1) sweeps its last two — the Seminoles own the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Tigers — in order to get back to the ACC championship game in early December.

Coastal
This one could be just as easy as its Atlantic big sister.  If Duke (3-1) wins out, it’ll be a second consecutive Blue Devil-Seminole title tilt.  Should Duke stumble once in its last four conference games, and if Miami (3-2) wins out and Georgia Tech (4-2) loses one more, it’d be the Hurricanes headed to Charlotte based on the head-to-head win over the Blue Devils in late September.  Tech is the only remaining two-loss league team and is still in the mix as well.  The Yellow Jackets own the head-to-head over the Hurricanes, although the Blue Devils hold that edge over Tech.  Duke would win a three-way tiebreaker over those two teams if all three end up 6-2.

BIG TEN

East
Like the ACC Atlantic, this one is very simple: barring a complete collapse by the triumphant team, the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan State game next Saturday, which they will both enter at 4-0, will represent the division at the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.  Just one other squad in the seven-team division (Maryland) has as few as two losses.

West
In no way, shape or form is this division clear; in fact, it’s essentially a muddy mess of possibilities.  There are four teams currently with one B1G loss: Nebraska at 4-1, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin at 3-1.  All but two of the remaining games — Minnesota vs. Ohio State, Iowa vs. Illinois – will involve those four teams facing each other.  In other words, this division may very well not be decided until the clock strikes midnight on the 2014 regular season.  Here’s to guessing, though, that the conference would love for a one-loss Cornhuskers to meet up with a one-loss Spartans/Buckeyes in the league championship game.  That’s the only scenario in which the Big Ten could possibly elbow its way into the College Football Playoff.

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Louisiana-Lafayette hangs on to beat Tulane in New Orleans Bowl

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Hunter Stover’s 27-yard field goal was the difference in Louisiana-Lafayette’s 24-21 wild victory over Tulane in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night.

The Ragin’ Cajuns (9-4) got off to a great start and, for a while, looked like they were going to blow out the Green Wave (7-6). Quarterback Terrance Broadway and running backs Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris were sharp in the early going and, when Corey Trim turned a Nick Montana pass into an 82 yard interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter, ULL had a 21-0 lead.

But Tulane, playing in its first bowl game since 2002, didn’t give up.

Devin Powell relieved Montana and promptly led the Green Wave on two second-quarter touchdown drives (both finished off by short Orleans Darkwa scoring plunges) to cut the lead to seven. Tulane went into the half with momentum on its side.

Neither team got much going in the third quarter. Then Derrick Strozier picked off a Broadway pass and returned it to the ULL 17-yard line. After a false start, Darkwa went 22 yards for his third touchdown and the game was all tied up.

The game then turned into a field position battle. ULL gained the advantage by pinning Tulane on its own 3 yard line. Then Powell threw a horrible deep pass that was intercepted by Sean Thomas at the Green Wave 28 and returned to the 13-yard line. Tulane forced Stover’s field goal and the Rajin’ Cajuns regained the lead.

After the two teams traded punts, Tulane got the ball back on its own five-yard line with 1:35 to play. Powell made an extraordinary play on third down, avoiding the rush before hitting Justyn Shackleford for 34 yards and a first down on the Green Wave 39. A 27-yard pass to Ryan Grant set Tulane up at the ULL 34-yard line. With 2012 Groza Award winner Cairo Santos warming up, it looked like we’d be heading to overtime.

Santos lined up for a 48-yard field goal with 12 seconds to play. He reportedly made a 61-yarder in pre-game warmups, but he hooked this one slightly to the left and the Ragin’ Cajuns came away with the dramatic win.

It was a disappointing ending to Tulane’s season, but the Green Wave have to be excited about the direction of their program under first-year coach Curtis Johnson. A new on-campus stadium is in the works and, if they can keep Johnson around for a few years, bowls should become a regular occurrence.

The Rajin’ Cajuns now have three bowl victories in a row and their third-straight 9-4 season under coach Mark Hudspeth. With Broadway and the talented McGuire (48 rush yards, 91 receiving yards) coming back next season, this team is a candidate to finally hit that 10-win mark.

And so ends the first day of Bowl Season. If today is any indication, we’re in for a heckuva ride.

Sneak Peek: 2013 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

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WHO: 7-5 Tulane (Conference USA) vs. 8-4 UL Lafayette (Sun Belt)

WHAT: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (13th year)

WHERE: Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana

WHEN: Dec. 21 at 9 p.m. ET

WHY: Get some extra shrimp gumbo ready because we have a fun match-up cooking. The bowl season does not always serve up some good in-state match-ups, but it will this time with Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette in the most fitting setting, New Orleans. It took 12 years to get these two schools back on the same football field last season in the regular season, but now they face off in the postseason for the first time in the history of the series that dates back to 1911.

Both teams will be familiar with the setting for this bowl game of course. Tulane plays their home game sin the Superdome and Louisiana has made a trip to the Superdome the past two years to play in the New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns have scored a couple of victories as well, with a thriller against San Diego State two years ago and a victory over East Carolina last season.

One of the big questions for this game will be just what the status for the starting quarterbacks is. Louisiana’s Terrance Broadway missed some playing time late in the season due to a broken arm but could be available for the bowl game. Tulane’s Nick Montana, son to NFL icon Joe Montana, also dealt with a shoulder injury down the stretch but could be ready to go as well.

There are many reasons to like the Ragin’ Cajuns in this one. The offense is more productive and efficient on third downs (converting 51 percent to Tulane’s 36.2 percent) and inside the red zone (touchdowns on 71.4 percent of red zone drives compared to Tulane’s 60.5 percent). Louisiana is also the more experienced team in this situation, having been in this bowl game each of the past two seasons while Tulane is playing their first bowl game in over a decade. Tulane does have a defense, but the offense will likely struggle to keep up with Louisiana enough to take the win.

PREDICTION: UL Lafayette 31, Tulane 23

Saturday offseason one-liners

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Some links from around college football on a Saturday…

Chris Davenport officially lands at Tulane after leaving LSU

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A couple of weeks after it was reported that Chris Davenport was leaving LSU for another school in the state, the move has come to fruition.

Tulane announced via a press release that the defensive tackle was one of three players added to the team’s spring roster.  Each of the three players is enrolled and eligible to play immediately.

“Chris is a big addition to our program and will have an immediate impact on our defensive line,” head coach Curtis Johnson said in a statement.  “He was one of the top players in the nation coming out of high school and I expect him to have a big year for us.  He is a big physical player that will make us tough on opponents’ running game and his size gives him the ability to disrupt the passing game as well.”

While Davenport was a five-star member of LSU’s 2009 recruiting class, he made very little impact on the field during his stay with the Tigers.  Rated as the No. 4 defensive tackle in that class, Davenport ultimately moved to the other side of the line in 2011.  He played in 23 career games with no starts.

Davenport may have been most known as one of the LSU players connected to the bar brawl prior to the start of the 2011 season involving then-starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Another of the three players added to the roster will be very familiar to Tulane fans.  Cornerback Jordan Sullen, who was dismissed from the team back in March of last year for violating University policies, is now back with the Green Wave and will participate in spring practice.

The return of Sullen is a boon to Tulane’s defense as he started the first 12 games of the 2011 season as a true junior before missing the season finale against Hawaii.  For his career, Sullen played in 32 games.

Tulane had announced early last month that former Washington quarterback Nick Montana had signed with the team as well.

(Photo credit: LSU athletics)