WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) With just three games left in his second season at Army, coach Jeff Monken has to rally his Black Knights yet again after a tough road loss.
A 20-3 setback last week at Air Force means the Black Knights (2-7) cannot win the coveted Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, emblematic of supremacy among the three service academies. But they still can be a spoiler for Navy if they beat the Middies in the season finale next month. The Falcons won it last year and would retain it with an Army victory.
The trick before the biggest game of the season is getting back on a winning track, and Tulane (2-7) offers that chance on Saturday at Michie Stadium. The Green Wave is reeling from a five-game losing streak.
''We just didn't make the plays we needed to and didn't score enough points,'' Monken said of the Air Force game. ''Just tough to lose a game like that that is so emotional and that you want to win so badly.''
Even though the Green Wave defense shut out the UConn offense last week, the Huskies prevailed 7-3 during a miserable homecoming rainstorm at Yulman Stadium with a defensive touchdown.
''I just thought we had some open opportunities and, to my disappointment, the kids just didn't catch a lot of balls,'' Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said. ''Those plays are ones you have to make. I don't care if it's raining or not.''
That loss means Tulane will finish below .500 for the 14th time in 17 years, and for the third time in Johnson's four seasons. The Green Wave finishes the season with games against SMU and Tulsa.
''We have to finish strong, so I can at least sleep a little bit,'' Johnson said. ''We have to go up to West Point, and we have to win.''
Things to know when Tulane visits Army on Saturday:
COMFORT ZONE?: Army will be the third option team the Green Wave faces this season, and the results so far don't bode well for the visitors. Tulane was humbled 65-10 in September by Georgia Tech and also lost 31-14 to Navy. The Black Knights rank ninth nationally with 257.4 rushing yards per game.
''I don't think anyone has played three option teams ... this season,'' Johnson said. ''Hopefully, we continue to learn from these games. This a tough Army team. They have more formations than you think an option team will have.''
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Army is allowing 27.6 points per game and has lost four games by a touchdown or less.
PAR FOR THE COURSE: Army QBs Ahmad Bradshaw and A.J. Schurr have both been hurt this season and neither has fully recovered. At this time of year, that's almost a given.
''There were a whole list of guys who went into that (Air Force) game and battled their hearts out that weren't necessarily completely healthy,'' Monken said. ''That is the case with a lot of football teams. We are just one of many teams that are battling that this season.''
DEFENSIVE STAND: Against UConn, Tulane S Darion Monroe had a game-high 11 tackles, LB Nico Marley added 10 stops, and the defensive line produced five tackles behind the line while holding the Huskies to a season-low 227 yards.
''They don't have a record that reflects how good of a football team I think they are. They are huge along the lines,'' Monken said. ''That creates some physical difficulties for us.''
WALKING WOUNDED: Tulane LB Eric Thomas (foot) will miss the Army game and DT Corey Redwine and CB Richard Allen are day-to-day with their concussion protocol. Johnson also says he doesn't know if DT Eldrick Washington (ankle) or TB Lazedrick Thompson will be healthy.
AP College Football Website: www.collegefootball.ap.org