AUBURN – Gus Malzahn didn’t wait long, after putting the Oregon game behind him, to load up the film for Tulane.
Tulane, meanwhile, didn’t wait long to jump off th at screen at him.
This isn’t the Tulane that some fans may remember — or may have forgotten — from past seasons.
This Tulane team has won six of its last seven game dating back to last season and is riding a 42-14 season-opening victory over FIU going into Saturday’s game against Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“They’re a team on the rise,” Malzahn said. “When you turn on the film Sunday, when you get back and you put the other one to bed, they get your attention in a hurry.
“They’re a very, very quality opponent.”
Tulane smashed FIU by four touchdowns in that opener last Thursday. They’re riding two extra days of rest and preparation into Saturday’s game. Last December, the team earned the program’s first bowl win since 2002.
“It’s really one of the better teams, non-Power 5, that we’ve played since I’ve been the head coach,” Malzahn said. “Very impressed with them, and we know we’re going to get their best.
“From our standpoint, we know we had a big emotional win on Saturday,” he continued. “We’ve got to put that in our rear view mirror. Our challenge now is to make the biggest improvement this season from Game 1 to Game 2.”
Tulane is coached by Willie Fritz, once the longtime coach at Central Missouri who made two runs to the FCS playoffs championship game at Sam Houston State before two successful seasons at Georgia Southern. Since arriving at Tulane in 2016, his Green Wave teams have reeled off more wins each season in an upward trend.
Tulane is quarterbacked by former LSU signee Justin McMillan.
It seems the combustible elements needed for a trap game are all there, but Auburn is bent on keeping full focus on Tulane and its potential.
“Just going into this week, you can’t take this team — Tulane — for any smaller team,” Auburn senior defensive lineman and team captain Derrick Brown said Tuesday, speaking just after his head coach. “You’ve got to treat them like you do every single week. As soon as you let your guard down, that’s when teams try to come back and make those plays on you that you can prevent.
“They’re a very good team,” Brown went on. “As you’ve seen last weekend in college football, people taking different conference teams not so seriously — and it came back to bite people. It’s one of those things, like, that’s not how we want to approach it.”
Saturday’s game is set for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff in Auburn. The game is set to be televised on ESPN2.
The Tigers have their orders, veteran receiver Eli Stove said, from leaders like Brown and himself and from position coaches like wide receivers coach Kodi Burns: Do not overlook Tulane.
“Really, Coach Burns told us that game is over with now — just switch to Tulane and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Stove said. “They trained us after every game to focus on the next game.
“It’s really just normal.”