Tulane holds on to defeat UCF, win first AAC championship


No. 18 Tulane defeated No. 22 UCF 45-28 on Saturday to capture its first-ever AAC championship. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Tulane’s conference title is its first since 1998 in the C-USA.
  • The win avenges a loss to the Knights from Nov. 12, which was Tulane’s only conference loss this season.
  • The Green Wave’s championship season comes one year after going 2-10.
  • Green Wave star running back Tyjae Spears totaled 199 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown while quarterback Michael Pratt added 48 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.

Historical significance of Tulane’s win

This was truly one of the biggest wins in program history for Tulane. That phrase has been mentioned a lot this season given the Green Wave won their first AAC regular season title and made their first championship game appearance. But now they’ve slayed all the traditional AAC dragons by exacting revenge on UCF after the Knights gave Tulane its only conference regular season loss in 2022.

Now the Green Wave will be playing in a New Years Six bowl, likely the Cotton Bowl. The last time Tulane played in a bowl game of this magnitude was Jan. 1, 1940 when Tulane was in the SEC. The Green Wave lost 14-13 to Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl. – Holder

Tulane leans on Pratt, Spears

If you haven’t been paying attention, Spears is certainly in the conversation as being one of the best running backs in the country. He punctuated his AAC Offensive Player of the Year honor from earlier this week with another dazzling performance. Spears’ 60-yard TD run in the third quarter was probably the perfect way to wrap up his final game at Yulman Stadium. He zigzagged through flailing UCF tacklers and even hurdled one of his teammates laying on the turf after trying to make a block en route to the end zone.

Meanwhile, Pratt looked as confident as ever in the pocket in the biggest game of his college football career. He connected on touchdown passes of 43, 73 and 60 yards en route to 394 passing yards with four TDs and one interception. – Holder

UCF’s QB juggling question

I realize John Rhys Plumlee wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire initially. But being replaced by true freshman third-string quarterback Thomas Castellanos in the second quarter seemed very ill-advised. The offense sputtered even worse giving no threat of a passing game.

The Knights’ attack came completely back to life once Plumlee returned under center with about four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Multiple Tulane turnovers aided UCF’s comeback attempt. But it’s not like Plumlee could fix UCF’s extremely leaky defense though as the unit surrendered more than 600 yards. – Holder

Highlight of the game

Key stat

Required reading

(Photo: Stephen Lew / USA Today)


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