Above: A family reunion–like celebration unfolds on the field at AT&T Stadium after Tulane wins the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 2, 2023. (AP photo by Sam Hodde)
(All other photos by Partker Waters)
It was a season for the ages. The Green Wave ended a magical year with arguably the biggest win in the modern era of its program with a thrilling 46-45 come-from-behind victory over the 10th-ranked University of Southern California Trojans in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 2. Tulane claimed the No. 9 spot in the final college football rankings of 2022.
On the first Monday of the New Year, tens of thousands of Tulanians descended on the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and turned AT&T Stadium into a rowdy sea of olive and blue. There were handshakes, hugs and an abundance of photos taken before, during and especially after the game. But it was more than just a game for anyone associated with Tulane University. It was a long-awaited family reunion — a catharsis, a transcendental moment that represented all that is right with intercollegiate athletics and exemplified what the New York Times called “the power of belief.”
Former football players and coaches came to cheer along with current and former faculty, staff, gleeful alums, and fans of all ages. Tulane students showed up en masse and sat center stage, fueling the collective energy as they have done all season.
Catherine Susie (E ’99) was a junior at Tulane during the Green Wave’s 12-0 season in 1998. The Dallas native was more than happy to make the short trip to AT&T Stadium to cheer on her alma mater.
“Stepping into AT&T Stadium, you could feel the excitement and enthusiasm among the Tulane fans,” said Susie. “It was an indescribable rush, like going to your first Mardi Gras. The last four minutes were exhilarating, thrilling and tense.”
A diehard Green Wave fan, Susie said this season took things to “another level.”
“I’ve always been a proud Tulanian. I stop people on the street when I see Tulane shirts, but our Cotton Bowl victory took it to another level. I think I smiled for a week straight after the game.”
The 16th-ranked Green Wave’s improbable comeback in its first major bowl in 83 years was spurred by a Green Wave offense that often appeared unstoppable behind the solid play of junior quarterback Michael Pratt and junior running back Tyjae Spears. The Green Wave defense battled Trojan quarterback Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, all day and came up with a game-changing safety late in the contest that prompted an epic comeback. When Pratt found freshman tight end Alex Bauman for the game-winning touchdown with nine seconds to play the Green Wave had overcome a 15-point deficit in the final five minutes.