More than a Bowl

by Leslie Turk

It's time to make UL vs. Tulane happen every year. Photo by Jay Faugot

Photo by Kari Walker

Watch all of the 34 other bowl games, all of them, and you won't see one like Saturday night's New Orleans Bowl. That's because the UL-Tulane matchup was much more than two teams celebrating successful seasons. It was the renewal of a rivalry. The numerous personal fouls, several offsetting, indicated these teams might dislike each other.

Tulane Head Coach Curtis Johnson's post game comment about last year's 41-13 loss to the Cajuns and that "we are gaining on them" implies the Cajuns are a standard of achievement for Tulane. And with the overall series record at 21-6 in the Wave's favor, UL has a lot of ground to make up. Cajun oral legend has Tulane refusing to play UL in the late 1990s even if every game was played in the Dome. Supposedly, the Cajun program was beneath Tulane's. Whether the legend is true, both programs are now close to dead even and on their way up. The two schools have enough similarities and differences to make for an exciting, intense rivalry.

It's time to make UL vs. Tulane happen every year.

Thumbs Up: Terrance Broadway
We knew he was a talented quarterback who could run or throw. We knew he was a leader and was willing to play hurt. We didn't know he could keep a secret.  Broadway said he knew he would play as early as Monday after he was cleared medically. Coach Mark Hudspeth admitted sheepishly that although he spent a week downplaying Broadway's chance of playing, "[Broadway] was probably more right than we were."

Photo by Jay Faugot

Thumbs Up: Coach Hud    
Despite two straight dispiriting losses the Cajuns were ready to play. Maybe Broadway's "surprise" appearance from the opening snap had something to do with it.  More likely the Cajuns were tuned into his availability. For certain Coach Hud demonstrated once again that he will have his team ready to play at a maximum level far more often than not.

Photo by Kari Walker

Thumbs Up: Cajun Fans
A third straight appearance, a third straight record-setting attendance. The crowd was a factor from the very beginning. Hudspeth attributed "two or three or four illegal procedure penalties" by Tulane to Cajun fans. Special commendation to the many members of the Cajun Nation who began their loosening up exercises as if the game started at noon rather than 8 p.m. and still found their seats.

Photo by Mark Lagrange

Thumbs Down: Turnovers
No fumbles but UL's two interceptions resulted in two Tulane touchdowns and got the Green Wave back in the game. Tulane recovered both of its fumbles but threw three interceptions, including a pick six for a 21-0 lead and another that set up the winning field goal. Broadway was ailing, as was Tulane's Nick Montana, and his backup, Devin Breaux, took some risky chances. But five interceptions is significant, unless you're talking about a rivalry.

Thumbs Down: Penalties
There was not a penalty on every play. It only seemed that way. Seventeen were paced off for a total of 158 yards, with half again as many refused or offset. That's a lot, unless you're talking about a rivalry.

Thumbs Down: Cajun Fans
The loud, sustained boos from the Cajun Nation after the MVP was awarded to Tulane's Orleans Darkwa was disappointing. Not only was he the game's leading rusher, Darkwa was Tulane's only effective runner. He also set a New Orleans Bowl record with three rushing touchdowns. In the past three years Cajun fans have seen enough good football to appreciate a gutsy performance when they see one. They also have experienced enough success to become gracious winners. Unless, of course, you're talking about a rivalry.

Photo by Mark Lagrange