As Tulane finished its first undefeated and untied regular season since 1931, even coach Tommy Bowden seemed mystified by his team's steep climb from a 7-4 record last season.
"I'm at a loss for words," Bowden said. "It hasn't sunk in yet. I would not have written an 11-0 script. A lot of guys coach a long time and never go 11-0 in a career, especially at Tulane."
The crowd chanted "Stay, Tommy Stay" during the fourth quarter of Tulane's 63-30 victory over Louisiana Tech Thursday night. Bowden is scheduled to meet with Clemson officials Friday about the Tigers' head coaching vacancy.
Bowden is also scheduled to meet Friday with Tulane president Scott Cowen and athletic director Sandy Barbour. The three are expected to discuss Bowden's future.
Tulane, the Conference USA champion, will play Brigham Young (9-3) in the Liberty Bowl New Year's Eve.
Toney Converse tied a school record by rushing for four touchdowns. He gained 182 yards on 24 carries.
"I think Toney was the difference in the game," quarterback Shaun King said. "When he does that it puts the defense in a really bad spot. He was the difference-maker."
King threw three touchdown passes, completing 19 of 26 passes for 330 yards and rushed for a touchdown. He became the first player in NCAA Division I-A history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in an 11-game season.
"To me, he is the best player in the country for his team," Bowden said. "He's phenomenal. I've used all the superlatives and there aren't enough to describe him."
| Toney Converse ran for a career-high 182 yards and a school-record four TDs. (AP) |
Tim Rattay completed 37 of 57 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs (6-6). Troy Edwards caught 15 of those passes for 167 yards. He surpassed Chris George from Glenville State to become the NCAA all-divisions single-season record holder for receiving yards (1,995).
"Troy has been a great player for us the past three years," Bulldogs coach Gary Crowton said. "But Tulane is a good team with a great coach in Tommy Bowden. That's a hard team to play catch-up with because they have an offense that is hard to stop."
Converse scored on a 5-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the second half for a 42-16 lead.
Tech came right back with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Rattay to Cedric Williams, but Converse scored moments later on a 6-yard run for a 49-23 lead with 7:15 left in the third quarter.
Tech's Billy Ray Tell scored on the next possession when he ran in from 1 yard out. The Bulldogs recovered an onsides kick, but Noel Ellis intercepted Rattay on the next play.
Tulane then drove and King scored on a 12-yard run for a 56-30 lead after three quarters. Converse completed the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run with 7:37 remaining.
Tulane scored touchdowns on its first five possessions to take a 35-16 halftime lead.
Tech stung the Green Wave early, taking a 7-0 lead on Rattay's 69-yard touchdown pass to James Jordan on the first possession of the game.
Tulane evened the score on Converse's 2-yard touchdown run. After Trent Wierick's 26-yard field goal gave Tech a 10-7 lead, King threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Kerwin Cook for a 14-10 lead.
King threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Cook midway through the second quarter and a 2-yarder to Joseph Akin with 5:54 left in the half.
Tulane missed an opportunity to extend the lead when Brad Palazzo missed a 47-yard field goal with six seconds left in the half.
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