CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Is Tulane for real? Is Tulsa still a contender in Conference USA's West Division?
That is the most compelling matchup on Saturday, especially after Tulane's break-through win two weeks ago against East Carolina, 36-33 in triple overtime. The Green Wave (5-2 overall, 3-0 C-USA) is one of two unbeaten teams in the West, and neither of them is Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane (2-4, 1-1), which already has lost to co-West leader Rice, could suffer a knockout punch at the Superdome. Tulsa is coming off a 34-20 win at cellar-dweller Texas-El Paso (1-5, 0-3) two weeks ago, and that wasn't domination by any means.
The victory came with a cost - quarterback Cody Green suffered a bruised left thigh and took a shot to the right knee in separate plays in the second half. For Tulsa, that was a shame - Green was 14 of 17 for 226 yards and two touchdowns, the most efficient effort of his career.
Redshirt freshmen Dane Evans took first-team snaps during the off week, with Green getting involved over the weekend. Their status remains up in the air.
As does that of Tulane QB Nick Montana. The son of Joe Montana didn't play against ECU, and freshman Devin Powell jumped in and went 23 of 39 for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
"I don't know if he'll play or not," Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said Tuesday. "We're counting on him to play, but he's on a snap count of about 40 throws. He's upping it every time. It's his arm strength that we've got to get back going."
And yes, Johnson does have a consultant in ol' No. 16 (No. 19 in his Kansas City days).
"I look over and see his dad. His dad sometimes gives me the 'yea' and sometimes he gives me the 'no,'" Johnson said.