NCAAF: Prolific passers carry Tulane, UTSA into pivotal AAC showdown

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Tulane’s quarterback just became the school’s all-time leading passer, and UTSA’s quarterback is coming off his own historic performance.

The star quarterbacks take center stage when the Green Wave (10-1, 7-0) and the Roadrunners (8-3, 7-0) meet Friday afternoon in New Orleans for a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

“Nobody will think we can win, and we’ll be the underdog on the road,” UTSA coach Jeff Traylor said. “Looking forward to that.”

Tulane is the defending conference champion, but the Roadrunners have been surging as quarterback Frank Harris has gotten healthier.

Green Wave quarterback Michael Pratt has had injury issues of his own, including a gimpy knee. But that didn’t slow him down much in a 24-8 road victory against Florida Atlantic last Saturday.

Pratt completed 21 of 28 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game with 9,239 career passing yards, breaking Patrick Ramsey’s school record. Pratt, who surpassed Ramsey’s career touchdown record earlier in the season, got the latest record despite the absence of injured starting wide receivers Jha’Quan Jackson and Lawrence Keys III.

“He’s the greatest quarterback in Tulane history,” head coach Willie Fritz said. “He really is. We’ve had great quarterbacks here. I’m not trying to diminish that. But when you put in his statistics plus the wins that he’s got, he’s done a tremendous job.”

Pratt is 20-2 as a starter over the last seasons. The Green Wave have continued to win and stay in contention for a New Year’s 6 berth for a second consecutive season.

Tulane has won 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. The Green Wave’s 22 victories since the start of the 2022 season are the third most in the country behind only Georgia (26) and Michigan (24).

But recently the wins haven’t come easily. Tulane had four straight wins in one-score games (by a total of 14 points) before last week’s 16-point margin.

“For us, after the last few weeks,” Fritz quipped, “that’s kind of a blowout.”

The Roadrunners had a legitimate blowout when they defeated visiting South Florida 49-21 on Nov. 17. They set a school record with 643 yards of total offense.

Harris passed for 523 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns. Traylor said he and his staff have been “calling the games to take care of” Harris, who suffered a turf toe injury early in the season.

But, Traylor added, he turned Harris loose last week so he could “go out in style” on Senior Night and to see what he could expect from the quarterback against the Green Wave.

“He looked like the old Frank Harris to me,” Traylor said.

Harris missed two games as UTSA started the season 1-3, but after he returned and has gotten healthier the Roadrunners have won by an average of 18.9 points during their win streak.

“Healthy teams don’t win championships,” Traylor said. “Tough ones do.”

–Field Level Media

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