MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Tulane got the break it needed when No. 16 Memphis won the toss, then deferred to the second half.
The Green Wave held the ball for 11 minutes, 13 seconds and finished with a touchdown. Dontrell Hilliard scored two touchdowns within the first 16 minutes for a 13-0 lead in a game where Tulane gave a redshirt senior quarterback the first start of his career due to injuries.
Then the nation's third-highest scoring team got started, and Memphis routed Tulane 41-13 on Saturday night.
Tulane coach Curtis Johnson called that 17-play opening drive simply perfect.
"That's what we planned," Johnson said. "We definitely keep it out of their hands as much as we can because we know that offense is deadly. We just executed that first drive. We did a decent job on the second drive, but we just couldn't sustain it."
Paxton Lynch threw for 343 yards and a touchdown and ran for 43 more for Memphis (8-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference). This is the fifth game Memphis has trailed by at least 10 points this season.
Lynch said the Tigers were all warmed up and ready, only to sit around for most of the first quarter.
"You have to stay locked in on the sideline and be ready to go when it's your turn," Lynch said.
Doroland Dorceus, Anthony Miller and Jarvis Cooper each ran for a TD, and Jake Elliott kicked three field goals as Memphis won its 15th straight game.
Only No. 1 Ohio State (21) and No. 5 TCU (16) have longer winning streaks than the Tigers.
Tulane (2-6, 1-4) lost its fourth straight overall and ninth in this series with quarterback Jordy Joseph making the first start of his career with Tanner Lee and Devin Powell both injured. Joseph threw for 131 yards and ran for 24 more.
But the Green Wave haven't upset a ranked team since 1984, and Tulane lost its 40th straight against ranked opponents since that win over Vanderbilt.
"With our backup quarterback, we had some struggles especially in the second half, and special teams hurt us," Johnson said.
A week after setting a school record with 704 yards total offense against Tulsa, the Tigers outgained Tulane 581-270 after overcoming a sloppy start on a rainy night. Lynch was pulled with 7:06 left after throwing for 300 yards or more for the seventh straight game.
The Tigers allowed an opponent to score on the opening drive for the fifth time in six games this season. They also settled for field goals twice in the first half inside Tulane's 20, and Elliott missed his first attempt wide left on Memphis' first possession.
But Dillon Jackson blocked Andrew DiRocco's extra point after Tulane's first TD. Memphis also scored on two safeties.
The first came after Jackson stopped Hilliard for a 1-yard loss on third-and-2 late in the first half. Tulane snapped the punt over the Peter Picerelli, who finally chased the ball down in the end zone for a safety. Memphis settled for another field goal by Elliot on the ensuing free kick, and the kicker gave Memphis its first lead of the game at 15-12 just before halftime.
Jamarius Henderson caught a short pass from Lynch and took the ball 43 yards for a TD late in the third, giving Memphis a 25-13 lead. Tulane bobbled the kickoff and started at its own 1. Joseph threw the ball away under pressure from Tigers cornerback Chauncey Lanier, drawing a flag for grounding and Memphis' second safety of the game
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