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First win “over,” on to UTEP for Green Wave

NEW ORLEANS - Tulane broke into the win column Saturday, and Curtis Johnson dived into his Bible for comparison.

"For us, it was like Moses parting the Red Sea or Jesus feeding 5,000," Johnson said Tuesday during his weekly media luncheon. "We did some stuff that we've never done or never heard about doing. We got some stops on the goal line that were miraculous. We hadn't driven the ball downfield in less than a minute."

To break the nation's longest losing streak with a dramatic 27-26 victory over SMU brought out a slew of emotions for Johnson, his staff and his players.

"It was crying time. There were tears," Johnson said. "I was just so happy for them. It's hard on young men who put so much into it and they want to win, they want to be successful. To get a win over a good team, it was just ... a great day.

"It was so rewarding that when you finally get the first one, it was like the Super Bowl or the national championship. It was great."

Said Tulane defensive end Austen Jacks, who had two sacks against SMU, "The energy was awesome. A lot of the young guys finally got their first win. Everyone was just ecstatic."

Now, it's on to the next one – Saturday night against a UTEP team that is winless in Conference USA play and 1-6 overall. Tulane has not won back-to-back C-USA games since 2007.

When your team hasn't experienced much success, dealing with it can be difficult, so the challenge for Johnson is to move his team's focus away from SMU and on to UTEP.

"If you would have heard me today at practice, there was more yelling than I've done," Johnson said. "We just have to mature and understand it's over. We didn't practice well today. I think it was because guys feel good about themselves and think we've got it all figured out. As of right now, we really don't. We've just got to continue to improve."

And if the Green Wave does, it could put a nice run together. Its next four games are against teams with a combined record of 5-21 – UTEP, UAB, Rice and Memphis.

As for this week, Tulane offensive coordinator Eric Price will know a lot about the opposition. The Miners are coached by Price's father, Mike Price.

"If we win this, it's Eric's game," Johnson said.

Kickoff at the Sun Bowl is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday. There is no live television.