Navy, Tulane battle no-win situation

November 07, 1991|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- When it last happened at the Naval Academy, the Cleveland Indians were drawing 2.6 million fans in a year they won their last World Series and the Baltimore Bullets were defeating the Philadelphia Warriors for the city's only NBA championship.

The last time it happened at Tulane, Cincinnati was beating Ohio State in an all-Buckeye NCAA basketball final, and a kid named Jack Nicklaus -- in his first year as a professional -- was winning his first U.S. Open in a playoff over Arnold Palmer.

The year's were 1948 and 1962 and they marked the last time that the Navy and Tulane football teams, respectively, finished a season without winning a game. With the 1991 season almost over, Navy (0-8) and Tulane (0-9), two of the four Division I-A teams still without a win, will be hoping to break their streaks when they meet in New Orleans on Saturday night.

Someone's backyard before a group of family and close friends would be the fitting place to hold such a game, but the two schools will do battle in the major-league environs of the 69,000-seat Superdome. The crowd will include a lot of freebies, as high school students with an A on their report cards will be allowed in, along with a guest, at no cost.

While on paper the game is laughable, it's no laughing matter to the players and coaches of the two teams, who entered the season with high expectations. While Navy was looking to build on last year's 5-6 mark, Tulane was hoping to improve on a 4-7 season that included three losses by a touchdown or less and a win over Syracuse in the next-to-last game of the season.

"We certainly didn't think we could be 0-9," said Greg Davis, in his fourth year at Tulane. "We came into the season with six offensive starters returning -- there's only one now."

Three of those offensive starters were injured, while two were victims of academics.

It also doesn't help Tulane that it plays the eighth-toughest schedule in the United States (according to the computer rankings of Jeff Sagarin), tougher than all of the top 10 teams except Michigan. On Saturday it was 17th-ranked East Carolina that defeated Tulane, 38-28.

"They've played tough at times, but their competition has just overwhelmed them," said Navy coach George Chaump. "Don't think Tulane is 0-9 and bad; they're better than that and are capable of playing good football."

Chaump feels his team is better than 0-8 and capable of playing good football, despite the 38-0 loss at fifth-ranked Notre Dame last week. The Midshipmen had the ball 11 more minutes than Notre Dame, but failed to convert on numerous second-half opportunities deep in Irish territory.

Notre Dame "came up with a couple of big pass plays that I never anticipated," Chaump said. "From the physical part of the game, we competed well. I just wish we had over a week to prepare."

There's only one week to prepare for Tulane, and Chaump is still unsure who will be his quarterback. Jason Van Matre sprained his right knee against Notre Dame, and his status is doubtful. nTC Jim Kubiak, who has started two games but did not play last week, could get the nod.

"Set the records aside," Chaump said. "Your pride is at stake."

The 0-for Bowl

Going into Saturday, only 4 Division I-A teams are without win. Oregon State is 0-8, while Oklahoma State is 0-7-1. Following are the game-by-game results of Navy (0-8) and Tulane (0-9), who face each other Saturday in New Orleans:

Navy Sept. 7 .. .. .. .. .. .Ball State, 10-33

Sept. 14 .. .. .. .. Virginia, 10-17

3Sept. 21 .. .. .. .William & Mary, 21-26

Sept. 28 .. .. .. .. Bowling Green, 19-22

Oct. 12 .. .. .. .. .. .. Air Force, 6-46

Oct. 19 .. .. .. .. .. Temple, 14-21

Oct. 26 .. .. .. .. .. .. Delaware, 25-29

Nov. 2 .. .. .. .. .. at Notre Dame, 0-38

Tulane Aug. 31 .. .. .. .. .. .Mississippi, 3-22

Sept. 7 .. .. .. .at Florida State, 11-38

Sept. 14 .. .. at Mississippi State, 0-48

Sept. 21 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Rice, 19-28

Sept. 28 .. .. .. .. .. .. Syracuse, 0-24

Oct. 5 .. .. .. Southern Methodist, 17-31

Oct. 12 .. .. .. .. .. Alabama, 0-62

Oct. 19 .. .. So. Mississippi, 14-47

Nov. 2 .. .. .. East Carolina, 28-38

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