IT's Tulane game picks

IT's Bill Frisbie gives you his pick, and the reasoning behind that pick, in Saturday's game between Texas and Tulane.

Texas head coach Mack Brown said TulaneÕs defense is the best his team will have played to date.

Say what?

Either Brown is being awfully nice to the people from whom he picked up a paycheck from 1985-87, or the defensive coordinators at Houston, North Carolina and North Texas have done something to piss him off.

The Green WaveÕs run defense, ranked No. 105 out of 117 Division I-A schools, parts like the Red Sea. (Even the Aggies could move the chains on these guys.)

True dat (as they say here in the Quarter) TulaneÕs defense has scored nearly one-fourth of the teamÕs touchdowns (three defensive; eight offensive). And true dat dey got demselves a gen-u-ine, bon-a-fide playmaker in CB Lynaris Elpheage who ranks second nationally (a spot he shares with FS Dakarai Pearson) with four interceptions in four games. But TulaneÕs D is giving up nearly 382 yards-per-game (205.5 on the ground) against less-than-stellar opposition.

Cedric Benson could equal his 137 ypg average by halftime, giving the 20,000 Texas fans at the Louisiana Superdome (capacity 69,767) an extended session with QB Chance Mock and explosive true freshman RB Selvin Young. (Then again, weÕve been predicting four quarters of vintage offense for three games now.)

Statistically, the only phase of TulaneÕs defense that any self-respecting Sports Information Director would want you to see is its pass efficiency rating of 93.26 (No. 16 nationally). Still, the Texas O faces a better unit when it squares off against its own second team defense each day in practice.

It will be interesting to watch defensive coordinators Carl ReeseÕs top-ranked squad respond to the WaveÕs no-huddle, hurry-up offense that typically lines up in a four-wide, one-back set -- especially the "one back" is the real deal. (Any college player that has his own website deserves either our ridicule or our respect, and RB Mewelde Moore is worthy of the latter.)

The junior owns 14 Tulane records, including the schoolÕs mark for most 100-yard rushing games (14), as well as four Conference USA records. With little more than two seasons under his belt, Moore has 2,725 total rushing yards and 4,105 all-purpose yards. Last year, Moore became the first player in NCAA Division I-A history to rush for more than 1,250 yards and catch more than 60 catches in a single season. HeÕs averaging 103.5 rushing yards per game and is the schoolÕs leading receiver following the season-ending injury to WR Roydell Williams.

QB J. P. Losman is a respectable athlete averaging 203.8 yards passing and is completing 62.2 percent of his attempts (79-of-127). He is fast, elusive, but streaky. The junior has thrown for five touchdowns and three interceptions in four games, and Reese wants to try to frustrate him early.

Tulane has the best place-kicker in the country. K/P Seth Marler won the Lou Groza Award as a junior and holds both the school and conference record for career field goals at 54. His 53-yard boot against East Carolina last season is a personal best and a conference record. He is the teamÕs leading scorer with 35 points, and (assuming Texas has cured the turnover bug) should provide the only scoring for the home team Saturday.

The Tulane defense is giving up 24 points-per-game and Texas will double dat (I guar-own-tee). Texas 48, Tulane 9.

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