Tulane overwhelmed by Ole Miss 39-0
Tulane emerged from the Superdome tunnel with the No. 18 on one side of its helmets in honor of injured safety Devon Walker, whose locker was symbolically stocked with his pads and uniform.
The Green Wave wanted to win for Walker, a senior leader who fractured his spine against Tulsa two weeks earlier, and fans wearing white shirts with Walker's number printed in green were eager to see that happen.
Mississippi also affixed small ''DW'' stickers to its helmets, but that is as supportive as the Rebels were willing to be. The Ole Miss defense overwhelmed Tulane freshman quarterback Devin Powell, and the Rebels seemingly ran at will in a 39-0 victory over the Green Wave on Saturday.
''It was very emotional,'' said Tulane defensive back Darion Monroe, normally a cornerback who had moved into Walker's safety spot. ''We wanted to win this game for him. It's unfortunate that we couldn't do it.''
The Rebels (3-1) constantly pressured Powell, who was sacked three times and threw three interceptions in his first start.
''He struggled a little bit,'' Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said. ''He had poor body language a couple of times, but he can still get better. This was his first true start. He'll get better.''
Powell finished 22 of 41 for 145 yards.
''I have to keep focusing and stay in the right frame of mind,'' he said. ''I just have to keep my composure a little better.''
Tulane (0-3), playing without top running back Orleans Darkwa because of his ankle sprain, managed only 14 net yards on the ground, leaving Johnson searching for answers.
''We have to figure out what we can do and do it. We've tried almost every conceivable run,'' Johnson said. ''I don't know if there's anything easier to be done.''
The Green Wave, losers of 13 straight dating to last season, were 2 of 16 on third-down conversions. Tulane's longest running play was 10 yards on Powell's scramble early in the fourth quarter.
Ole Miss had no such problems, piling up 304 yards rushing, including a pair of Jeff Scott touchdown runs. Bo Wallace was 7 of 16 for 101 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief. Randall Mackey and Ja-Mes Logan each added running touchdowns.
The Ole Miss defense, seeking redemption after yielding 66 points in a loss to Texas a week earlier, limited Tulane to 159 yards of total offense and took particular pleasure in not allowing the Green Wave to score.
''One goal for the week was getting a shutout and that's exactly what every defensive player wanted to do,'' said Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, who also had an interception. ''It was big-time for us. We need this confidence.''
Ole Miss reserve quarterback Barry Brunetti, who rotated in regularly after Rebels jumped out to a large early lead, wound up leading his team in rushing with 67 yards on 13 carries. Scott finished with 62 yards on 11 carries.
If not for three turnovers, the Rebels' performance would have had few flaws. Those proved inconsequential, however, as Tulane struggled to move the ball.
Tulane looked to strike quickly when Powell lofted a pass deep down the right sideline on the game's first play from scrimmage and Ryan Grant dove to make a 32-yard catch near midfield. The drive quickly stalled there, however, and punter Peter Picerelli could not handle a high snap, giving Ole Miss the ball on the Green Wave 23-yard line.
The Rebels quickly capitalized on the botched punt when Scott scampered 13 yards to make it 6-0, though their two-point try failed.
Logan's 14-yard scoring run on a reverse widened the Ole Miss lead to 12-0, but Tulane again foiled the Rebels' two-point conversion.
Mackey's 28-yard run on a draw made it 19-0, and it only got worse for Tulane when Powell's deflected pass was intercepted by Nkemdiche in Tulane territory.
The turnover set up Wallace's scoring strike along the left sideline to Moncrief, making it 26-0 before the end of the opening quarter.
Tulane's only scoring threat in the first half came when the Green Wave forced a turnover in Ole Miss territory and drove down to the 2, from where Powell, under pressure, threw too high for Justyn Shackleford on fourth-and-goal.
Scott added his 4-yard TD in the third quarter, and Ole Miss tacked on a couple field goals by Bryson Rose.