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When was the last time Tulane played in a major bowl game?

You have to go back to the end of the Great Depression to find the last time Tulane played in a bowl of this caliber.

The Sugar Bowl stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, between 1935 and 1960 Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The No. 16 Tulane Green Wave experienced one of its best seasons in the modern history of the program this year and will cap it off by meeting the No. 10 USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Monday. The Green Wave won the AAC championship with an 11-2 record and earned the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid for the season.

Playing in the Cotton Bowl is a height the program has not achieved since the end of the Great Depression. The last time Tulane played in a major New Year’s bowl game was in 1940, where it suffered a 14-13 loss to Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl. Still in the SEC at the time, Red Dawson’s Green Wave finished the 1939 regular season with an 8-0-1 record, defeating the likes of Ole Miss, Alabama, and LSU to claim a share of the league title. In the Sugar Bowl, Tulane held onto a 13-7 lead in the fourth quarter before a late Aggie touchdown allowed it to pull ahead for the win. That 11-0 Texas A&M team would be voted on as the AP national champion.

Tulane wouldn’t return to a bowl game for three decades where it defeated Colorado in the 1970 Liberty Bowl. From there, the Green Wave would only make 10 bowl appearances over the next five decades as the program experienced brief flirtations with competence mixed with several years of futility. That speaks to the job current head coach Willie Fritz has done in returning Tulane to a national stage.