Taking on the favored USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl on Monday, Willie Fritz’s Tulane Green Wave knew they were facing an uphill climb.
The 10th-ranked Trojans were up 45-30 after kicking a field goal with less than five minutes remaining in the game. That’s when Tulane did its thing in pulling off the best comeback of the college football season.
Running back Tyjae Spears scored on a four-yard run on Tulane’s next possession to pull the Green Wave to within eight points. Tulane’s defense then forced a safety to make the game even closer with just over three minutes remaining.
Tulane completed the comeback when quarterback Michael Pratt hit Alex Bauman on a six-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left to give the Green Wave a 46-45 win, shocking the college football world.
There’s a lot of different storylines stemming from this epic comeback by Tulane. It was just last season that this program posted a 2-10 record under Fritz. By virtue of this comeback win in the Cotton Bowl, Tulane finishes with a 12-2 record, representing the greatest one-year turnaround in FBS history.
As for USC, Lincoln Riley’s defense struggled once again; it was also stunned by Utah in the Pac 12 Championship Game. The loss to Utah knocked the Trojans out of a possible spot in the College Football Playoffs.
All of this came within the confines of a game in which Heisman winner Caleb Williams accounted for 460 passing yards and five touchdowns in another brilliant all-around performance from the Oklahoma transfer.
A lot will be made about USC blowing this game during the offseason. As for Tulane, this represented the program’s best season since 1998 when it finished 12-0 under Tommy Bowden to finish seventh in the Associated Press standings. That team included future NFL quarterbacks Shaun King and Patrick Ramey.