CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- And then there is one - say hello to the Tulane Green Wave, Conference USA's only unbeaten-in-league team.
Yes, it is true - Tulane (6-2 overall, 4-0 C-USA) stands alone after Rice's 28-16 loss Thursday night at North Texas. Already bowl-eligible, the Green Wave controls its destiny to not only win the West Division, but to also host the championship game on Dec. 7.
That is a radical departure from the coaches' preseason poll, which pegged Tulane sixth out of seven teams in the West. It's an extremely radical departure from the Wave's 13-51 conference record from 2005-12.
So what has gotten into this team, which has defeated North Texas, East Carolina and Tulsa in the previous three games? Not much, if you ask the oddsmakers.
Stunningly, the Green Wave is a 21/2-point underdog today at Florida Atlantic (2-6, 1-4).
"I didn't know we were the underdogs," said Tulane coach Curtis Johnson. "It's good. Here's what I think: If you ask me, we'll probably be the underdogs in all of these games."
The Green Wave is riding a plus-11 turnover margin and a big-time season from defensive end Julius Warmsley (12.5 tackles for loss) to overtake C-USA foes. Lorenzo Doss leads the league in interceptions (five).
Orleans Darkwa has been a force on the ground (469 yards, six touchdowns) and Nick Montana and Devin Powell have combined for 1,506 yards and 14 touchdowns at quarterback. The son of Joe Montana has battled health problems, but is expected to be full go today at FAU.
"We expect him to play," Johnson said. "I would say he took 60-65 percent of the reps today and Devin took 30-35 percent of them. I don't know the actual numbers, but it was about that. He looks a lot better. He looks good. He looks like he's not injured anymore. He'll be ready this game."
It's important to remember that Tulane beat North Texas 24-21 on Oct. 5, winning on a game-ending field goal by Cairo Santos. After beating Rice, the Mean Green (6-3, 4-1) has gained bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004 and remains a contender in the West.