Originally created 12/31/98

Tulane determined to finish undefeated



MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tommy Bowden taught No. 10 Tulane a very important lesson before leaving for Clemson. College football is a business, and the Green Wave plan to show Thursday that they paid attention.

"We want to be the only undefeated team in the nation," defensive end Kevin Reavis said.

"And I believe we have a very good chance of doing that. We're 11-0, and we haven't received the respect we should have. The only way we can receive it is by winning number 12."

Tulane (11-0) goes into the Liberty Bowl Thursday against Brigham Young (9-4) as one of only two undefeated teams in Division I-A along with Tennessee (12-0).

The odds against the Green Wave even thinking of an undefeated season were astronomical before Bowden arrived for the 1997 season. He quickly turned around a program that was 4-18 in the previous two years with a 7-4 record in 1997.

But he isn't around to coach the Green Wave in their first bowl appearance since the 1987 Independence Bowl or try to lead them to their first bowl victory since the 1970 Liberty Bowl.

Instead, Bowden has been at Clemson last month after leaving the Conference USA school. Four of his assistants, including offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez, have stuck around to help new Tulane coach Chris Scelfo through Thursday's bowl as they try for the Green Wave's best record ever.

After Bowden left, many Green Wave players were upset when Rodriguez was passed over for Scelfo, who had been an assistant at Georgia.

"We took it as just another obstacle, so even though our coach left, the coach doesn't play the games. We play the games," Reavis said.

"One thing coach Bowden taught us he left is that football is a business, and we have to handle our business like men," linebacker Brett Timmons said.

Scelfo makes his coaching debut against one of college football's best in BYU's LaVell Edwards. While Tulane is playing in only its ninth bowl, the Cougars have been to 21 bowls in 27 seasons with Edwards.

BYU is back in a bowl after slumping to a 6-5 record last season, and the Cougars rebounded with the help of a stingy defense.

The Cougars ranked fifth nationally allowing 273.9 yards a game and forced 22 turnovers.

"That obviously will be one of the real keys for us, to have them come through and hopefully get a couple of turnovers," Edwards said. "If we're going to win this game, we've got to keep Tulane's offense off the field as much as possible."

That may be tough against Tulane and Shaun King, who set a Division I-A record for pass efficiency with a rating of 183.3 despite playing eight games with a broken bone in his left, non-passing hand. He hasn't thrown an interception in his last 166 attempts.

With King at the helm, Tulane is second in scoring (45.4 points a game) and fourth in total offense (507.1 yards) nationally. The Green Wave also hasn't turned the ball over in the last 19 quarters.

"You're not going to stop Tulane. You just hope to slow them down some," Edwards said.