Cincinnati (4-3) at Tulane (2-5) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Yulman Stadium (30,000) -- New Orleans, Louisiana. Television: ESPN2 or ESPNU. Home Record: Cincinnati 3-1, Tulane 2-1. Away Record: Cincinnati 1-2, Tulane 0-4. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 0-0, Tulane 0-0. Conference Record: Cincinnati 2-1, Tulane 1-2. Series Record: Tulane leads, 11-3.
GAME NOTES: The Cincinnati Bearcats take aim at their third straight victory on Friday night when they face the Tulane Green Wave in American Athletic Conference action at Yulman Stadium.
Prospects were bleak for Cincinnati in mid-October, as the Bearcats dropped three straight contests against Ohio State, Memphis and Miami-Florida to fall to 2-3 before the midway point in the month. They have begun to climb back to respectability with wins over SMU (41-3) and South Florida (34-17) in the last two games.
Tulane is not riding a winning or losing streak, although it is leaning closer to the latter. The Green Wave dropped a 20-13 fight with UCF before last week's bye. It was the third setback in the last four games, dropping them to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in conference.
These teams are meeting for the first time as AAC foes, with this being Tulane's first season in the league. The last time they met at all came back in 2002, when Tulane ran away with a 35-17 victory. The Green Wave have won six of the last seven meetings to grab an 11-3 lead in the all-time series.
In the last two weeks the normally potent Bearcats offense has returned to form. They posted a season-high 590 yards against USF, following a 508-yard effort against SMU. Cincinnati is second only to East Carolina among AAC squads in total offense (464 ypg), although it trails the Pirates by more than 100 yards per game.
It was the running game that really put in the work against USF. Led by a surprising performance from Mike Boone, the Bearcats finished with 273 yards on the ground. Boone accounted for 212 of those yards and he had a touchdown. He had rushed for only 32 yards coming in, although he did not play in the first four games. Boone's efforts were needed considering Hosey Williams and Tion Green have been sidelined for several weeks now.
The large scoring differential and success on the ground allowed Gunner Kiel to take a bit of a break. Kiel completed 13-of-22 pass attempts for just 196 yards and a touchdown. He did not play the entire contest, conceding to Munchie Legaux in the second half. Kiel usually throws the ball more often, with 139 completions on 234 attempts this season, which have accounted for 2,049 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Shaq Washington ripped through the USF secondary to the tune of 12 receptions for 163 yards, both season-highs. Washington leads the team in receptions (39), but is second in receiving yards (432). Leading the way is Chris Moore (20 receptions, 451 yards, five TDs), who is tied with Mekale McKay (22 receptions, 399 yards, five TDs) for touchdown receptions.
Cincinnati was impressive on the defensive side of the ball against USF as well. The Bearcats allowed only 281 yards, while claiming more than a 13- minute advantage in time of possession. It was a nice change of pace for the Bearcats, who are third-worst in the AAC in total defense (489.3 ypg).
They may be in for another strong outing against a middle-of-the-road offensive team in Tulane. The Green Wave rank sixth in the AAC in total offense (354 ypg) and ninth in scoring (18.7 ppg).
The Green Wave may have their starting quarterback back this weekend, with Tanner Lee listed as probable with a shoulder injury. Lee missed the last two games, which allowed Nick Montana, who started for Tulane last season, back in the mix. Montana didn't seem to do enough to become the starter going forward, completing 37-of-68 pass attempts for 282 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Lee hasn't been all that much better, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes for 914 yards, eight touchdowns and nine picks.
Justyn Shackleford (24 receptions, 342 yards, two TDs) and Xavier Rush (14 receptions, 295 yards, three TDs) are the top receiving options for the Green Wave. However, the duo combined for only three receptions for 24 yards against UCF. Teddy Veal (15 receptions, 183 yards) set a season-high with 55 yards on three catches in the losing effort.
When it comes to running the ball, Sherman Badie (582 yards, three TDs) and Lazedrick Thompson (361 yards, three TDs) form a solid duo out of the backfield. They have combined for more than 100 yards in five straight games.
Although they may be just 2-5, the Green Wave have not ben entirely ripped apart by opposing offenses. Tulane is letting up 367.3 yards (sixth in the AAC) and 28.1 points per game (seventh).
Getting Lee back in the starting lineup could be beneficial for the Tulane offense, but it won't provide enough of a boost for the Green Wave to knock off a confident and potent Cincinnati team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 28, Tulane 13Game Date and Time
Friday, October 31, 8 p.m. (ET)