Archive for the ‘College football’ Category

College football: Week 14

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Never have so many Arkansas college football teams played games on a Saturday in December.

And there’s a lot on the line.

In Jonesboro on Saturday night, Arkansas State and Troy will square off with at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference title at stake. ESPN2 will televise the game nationally.

In Conway on Saturday afternoon, UCA will host New Hampshire in the second round of the FCS playoffs. This is a Bear team with a legitimate shot at making it to the national championship game.

Harding has advanced to the third round of the NCAA Division II playoffs for a second consecutive year and will travel to Michigan to take on Ferris State.

Arkansas Tech will battle Pittsburg State of Kansas in Texarkana in the annual Live United Bowl on Saturday afternoon.

We were 2-1 on the picks last week. We correctly called Missouri over Arkansas in the final game of the Bret Bielema era and Arkansas State over Louisiana-Monroe. We missed on Harding, though, which won its 10th consecutive game after starting the season 0-3.

The season record is now 77-20.

Here are the picks for this Saturday’s games:

Troy 41, Arkansas State 39 — This should be a highly entertaining game. If Appalachian State defeats Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday afternoon in Boone, N.C., the winner of the ASU-Troy game will share the conference title with the Mountaineers. If Appalachian State loses, the ASU-Troy winner will stand alone atop the conference. The Red Wolves had a poor defensive outing last Saturday in Monroe, La., but the offense couldn’t be stopped in a 67-50 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. It was the most points ever allowed in a win by an ASU team. Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen set school records for passing yards (520) and total yards (550). The Red Wolves are now 7-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play. Troy is 9-2 overall and is also 6-1 in Sun Belt play. The Trojans attracted national attention back on Sept. 30 when they went to Baton Rouge and knocked off LSU, 24-21. The other victories have come by scores of 34-7 over Alabama State, 27-24 over New Mexico State, 22-17 over Akron, 34-10 over Georgia State, 38-16 over Georgia Southern, 24-21 over Idaho, 42-17 over Coastal Carolina and 62-9 over Texas State. The two losses were by scores of 24-13 to Boise State and 19-8 to a South Alabama team that also upset ASU.

UCA 35, New Hampshire 24 — The Bears, who finished the regular season 10-1 overall and 9-0 in the Southland Conference, had a week off thanks to a first-round playoff bye. They’re the No. 4 seed in the FCS playoffs. New Hampshire is 8-4 and advanced with a 14-0 win Saturday over Central Connecticut. The New Hampshire losses were by scores of 51-26 to Holy Cross, 38-24 to Stony Brook, 21-0 to James Madison and 15-0 to Albany. The seven regular-season victories were by scores of 24-23 over Maine, 22-12 over Georgia Southern, 28-14 over Rhode Island, 45-17 over Bryant, 40-17 over Towson, 35-16 over William & Mary and 16-6 over Elon.

Harding 29, Ferris State 27 — The Bisons are the hottest team in small college football right now. They didn’t win the Great American Conference championship (Ouachita did), but they earned a spot in the playoffs and then knocked off the University of Indianapolis by a final score of 27-24 in the first round. UIndy had come into the game with an 11-0 record. The Bisons went on the road again for the second round against an Ashland squad that was 11-1 following a first-round victory over the defending national champions from Northwest Missouri State. Harding posted a 34-24 victory as the Bisons rushed for 295 yards and passed for 126 yards. Ferris State finished the regular season 9-1 and then came from behind in the fourth quarter to edge Ouachita by a final score of 24-19 in the first round of the playoffs. In the second round, the Bulldogs went on the road to Kansas to take on the team ranked first in NCAA Super Region 3 and won 31-21 over Fort Hays State. Ferris hasn’t seen anything like Harding’s double-slot offense. The Bisons have an excellent chance to advance to the national semifinals.

Arkansas Tech 30, Pittsburg State 28 — Arkansas Tech is 8-3, and Pittsburg State is 7-4. Tech won its first four games of the season over Southern Arkansas, Henderson, Oklahoma Baptist and Southern Nazarene to move to No. 11 nationally in the Division II rankings. A 35-31 loss to Ouachita in Russellville on Sept. 30 started a skid that also saw the Wonder Boys get upset by one point the following week at UAM. That was followed by victories over Southwestern Oklahoma, Northwestern Oklahoma, East Central Oklahoma and Southeastern Oklahoma. A 24-17 win by Harding in Russellville on Nov. 11 denied the Wonder Boys a share of the GAC title. Tech has had almost a month to prepare for the game against the Gorillas, long a Division II power.

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 13

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

The Bret Bielema era comes to an end in Fayetteville on Friday afternoon.

There will be far more empty seats than seats that are filled. Razorback fans began “speaking with their feet” earlier this year, letting the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees know they were ready for a change in direction. Only about 35,000 people showed up for last Saturday’s 28-21 loss to Mississippi State.

The board listened.

The game was a microcosm of the five-year Bielema era. It was the 12th time under Bielema that an Arkansas team has lost after entering the fourth quarter with the lead. It dropped the Razorbacks to 29-33 overall and 11-28 in the Southeastern Conference since Bielema became the head coach.

Mississippi State goes into Thursday night’s Egg Bowl with records of 8-3 overall and 4-3 in the SEC. Arkansas goes into that contrived Battle Line Rivalry with records of 4-7 overall and 1-6 in the SEC.

Mississippi State led 348-221 in total yards and outrushed the Razorbacks 195-97. The last time a Mississippi State team had overcome a 14-point deficit was against, yes, Arkansas in 2008.

With the second losing season in five years already in the books, here’s something for you to consider if you watch Friday’s game: The most points ever allowed by an Arkansas football team were 404 points last season. If Missouri scores 19 or more points Friday afternoon, that record will be broken.

We were 5-1 on the picks last week, bringing the season record to 75-19. It should have been 6-0 since we had vowed to never again pick UAPB. But then we noticed that Texas Southern had only one victory, the game was at War Memorial Stadium, etc. So we went with the home team. Of course, the Golden Lions lost, 24-10, to finish the season 2-9 overall and 1-6 in the SWAC. UAPB ended the year with seven consecutive losses, and on Monday head coach Monte Coleman lost his job. It will be interesting to see if a new coach can revive that program.

Here are the picks for the three games this week that involve teams from Arkansas:

Missouri 30, Arkansas 28 — If they play a football game and no one sees it, is it still a football game? We’ll at least have the TV on as background noise for what I expect to be a close game. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Razorbacks win one last game for the coach. Missouri, though, is on a roll. The Tigers won their fifth consecutive game last Saturday with a 45-17 victory over Vanderbilt. Missouri is now 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the SEC following an awful start. The Tigers won their opener 72-43 over outmanned Missouri State and then lost five consecutive games — 31-13 to South Carolina, 35-3 to Purdue, 51-14 to Auburn, 40-34 to Kentucky and 53-28 to Georgia. The five consecutive victories have come by scores of 68-21 over Idaho, 52-12 over Connecticut, 45-16 over Florida, 50-17 over Tennessee and 45-17 over Vanderbilt.

Arkansas State 35, Louisiana-Monroe 25 — Arkansas State is still tied for the lead in the Sun Belt Conference following a 30-12 victory in Jonesboro last Saturday against Texas State. The Red Wolves are 6-3 overall and 5-1 in conference play. They’re bowl eligible for a seventh consecutive season. With heavy winds negating the passing game last Saturday, ASU ran the ball 61 times for 164 yards and led in time of possession by an astounding 23 minutes. The game marked the most rushing plays for an ASU team since 2007. The Red Wolves, still smarting from the loss at South Alabama two weeks ago, will take nothing for granted as they go on the road this Saturday to play a 4-6 Louisiana-Monroe team. ULM’s four victories have come by scores of 56-50 over Louisiana-Lafayette, 51-43 over Coastal Carolina, 45-27 over Texas State and 52-45 over Appalachian State. The losses have been by scores of 37-29 to Memphis, 28-17 to Southern Mississippi, 47-37 to Georgia State, 33-23 to South Alabama, 31-23 to Idaho and 42-14  to Auburn.

Ashland 29, Harding 27 — Harding is one of the great stories in small college football in 2017. The Bisons graduated 18 players off a team that went 11-0 during the regular season in 2016 and then won two NCAA Division II playoff games. Harding started this season 0-3. The Bisons have now won nine consecutive games, including last week’s 27-24 win at the University of Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs. Harding only attempted one pass on a stormy afternoon and didn’t complete that. The Bisons, who lead Division II in rushing, outrushed their opponent 349-171. Indianapolis had come into the game with an 11-0 record. Harding plays Saturday at Ashland of Ohio, which is 11-1. Ashland’s only defeat was a 26-23 loss to Indiana of Pennsylvania (you read that correctly) in the season opener. The 11 consecutive victories since then have come by scores of 47-21 over Ohio Dominican, 42-14 over Northwood, 20-3 over Ferris State, 38-0 over Davenport, 38-13 over Northern Michigan, 48-0 over Michigan Tech, 38-24 over Tiffin, 30-10 over Wayne State, 34-31 over Grand Valley State, 31-19 over Saginaw Valley State and 21-18 in the first round of the playoffs over the defending national champions from Northwest Missouri State.

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 12

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

If only Arkansas’ game at Baton Rouge could have ended at halftime.

It’s those second halves that so often cause the problems in this season of discontent for Razorback fans.

In the end, the score of LSU 33, Arkansas 10 was about what most folks expected last Saturday. We’ve given up hope for Houston Nutt-style upsets in what surely is the final gasp of the Bielema era.

The loss to LSU marked the fifth time this season that Arkansas has lost by 20 or more points. This weekend could certainly make six.

LSU outgained the Hogs 425-318 as Derrius Guice rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Arkansas is now 3-11-1 in games played at Baton Rouge through the years. LSU leads the overall series 39-22-2. Austin Allen was 12 of 23 passing for 140 yards. With Cole Kelley having drunk himself out of the picture for this week, Allen will need to be even better for Arkansas to have a chance against Mississippi State in the first game of the post-Jeff Long era.

I figured I was on the verge of going 7-0 on my college picks as I drove back home to Little Rock following a glorious Battle of the Ravine afternoon in Arkadelphia. I had the radio tuned to the Arkansas State game. Even though the Red Wolves trailed South Alabama by a score of 24-19 in Mobile, they were just about to score. As quarterback Justice Hansen reached for the end zone, the ball was knocked away with 5:18 left in the game. Touchback. Hansen threw his fourth interception of the game on the final Red Wolf possession, and ASU lost its first Sun Belt Conference contest of the season.

We thus were 6-1 on the week to bring the season record to 70-18.

Here are the picks for this Saturday with all four of the Division I teams playing in the state and two of the Division II teams on the road for playoff appearances:

Mississippi State 34, Arkansas 25 — It’s another 11 a.m. kickoff. You get a lot of those when you’re bad. Arkansas (4-6, 1-5) needs to win its next two contests to qualify for a bowl game. And I’ve yet to find anyone who thinks that’s going to happen. Mississippi State gave Alabama all it could handle in Starkville on Saturday before falling 31-24. The Bulldogs are 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the Southeastern Conference. The other two losses were by scores of 31-3 to Georgia and 49-10 to Auburn. The seven victories have come by scores of 49-0 over Charleston Southern, 57-21 over Louisiana Tech, 37-7 over LSU, 35-10 over BYU, 45-7 over Kentucky, 35-14 over Texas A&M and 34-23 over Massachusetts.

Arkansas State 40, Texas State 20 — Look for the Red Wolves (5-3, 4-1) to bounce back this Saturday in Jonesboro against a Texas State team that’s just 2-8 overall and 1-5 in conference play. Hansen, who was 27 of 44 passing for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to South Alabama, should have a field day against the Bobcats. Texas State’s only two victories have been by scores of 20-11 over Houston Baptist and 27-7 over Coastal Carolina. The losses have come by scores of 37-3 to Colorado, 20-13 to Appalachian State, 44-14 to Texas-San Antonio, 45-10 to Wyoming, 45-27 to Louisiana-Monroe, 24-7 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 45-35 to New Mexico State and 33-30 to Georgia State.

UCA 36, Abilene Christian 16 — The Bears secured at least a share of the Southland Conference title last Saturday with a 56-10 victory over a 1-9 Incarnate Word squad. UCA moved to 9-1 overall and 8-0 in conference play. The Bears can wrap up an outright title in Conway on Saturday with a win over an Abilene Christian team that comes to town with records of only 2-8 overall and 2-6 in the Southland Conference. The Bears outgained Incarnate Word 527-294. Expect similar numbers this Saturday. UCA quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 20 of 30 passing for 226 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win. The only two Abilene Christian victories have been by scores of 24-3 over Houston Baptist and 45-20 over Incarnate Word. The losses were by scores of 38-14 to New Mexico, 38-10 to Colorado State, 20-10 to Stephen F. Austin, 13-7 to McNeese State, 29-20 to Nicholls State, 56-21 to Southeastern Louisiana, 26-23 to Northwestern State of Louisiana and 44-35 to Sam Houston State.

UAPB 24, Texas Southern 23 — The Golden Lions play the second of two games at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium this Saturday. UAPB lost its sixth consecutive game last Saturday at Prairie View A&M by a final score of 35-12. UAPB is now 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the SWAC. Texas Southern comes to town with a 1-8 record. The only victory was by a score of 28-21 over Mississippi Valley State. The losses have been by scores of 29-7 to Florida A&M, 24-17 to Houston Baptist, 30-13 to Alabama A&M, 24-17 to Alcorn State, 48-3 to Kennesaw State, 23-16 to Alabama State, 50-24 to Grambling State and 33-7 to Southern University.

Harding 29, Indianapolis 27 — This is our upset special. Harding went 11-0 in the regular season last year and won its first two games in the 2016 NCAA Division II playoffs. The Bisons lost 18 starters off that team and began the 2017 season 0-3. Then came a remarkable turnaround that has seen Harding win its past eight games. Last Saturday, Harding went to Russellville to take on an 8-2 Arkansas Tech team that could have wrapped up a share of the Great American Conference title with a victory. The Bisons won by a final score of 24-17. This week’s playoff opponent, the University of Indianapolis, is undefeated. But it plays in a relatively weak conference and has not seen anything like Harding’s hard-to-stop double-slot offense. Harding is playing as well as any Division II team in the country right now. The UIndy victories have come by scores of 24-20 over Grand Valley State, 31-28 over Wayne State, 45-17 over Southwest Baptist, 45-38 over Hillsdale, 34-19 over Truman, 28-10 over McKendree, 55-0 over Quincy, 45-0 over Lincoln of Missouri, 42-3 over William Jewell, 43-34 over Missouri S&T and 42-27 over Notre Dame of Ohio.

Ferris State 41, Ouachita 33 — It was a memorable day for the Ouachita football program. As anyone associated with either Ouachita or Henderson can tell you, winning the Battle of the Ravine is about as big as it gets. Ouachita also won an outright GAC championship, earned a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs, moved into the Division II Top 25 and broke the nation’s longest college road winning streak (Henderson had won 31 consecutive road games). Junior Drew Harris of Benton scored all seven of the Tiger touchdowns in the 49-42 win over the Reddies. Ouachita is now 53-21 since the GAC began in 2011 and has three conference championships to go along with two trips to the playoffs. In fact, the GAC title has resided in Arkadelphia for six of the seven years (Henderson has three titles, and Harding has one). Ouachita must make the long trip to Michigan this week to take on a 9-1 Ferris State team that’s ranked 10th in the country. The lone loss came by a score of 20-3 to Ashland. The victories were by scores of 48-27 over Findlay, 42-10 over Northern Michigan, 59-17 over Wayne State, 13-3 over Tiffin, 49-17 over Saginaw Valley State, 28-27 over Grand Valley State, 24-14 over Northwood, 26-0 over Davenport and 49-7 over Michigan Tech.

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 11 (Battle of the Ravine)

Monday, November 6th, 2017

It’s my favorite week of the year.

It’s time for the Battle of the Ravine. That just happens to be the greatest small college rivalry in the country, and it’s right here in Arkansas.

ESPN’s “College GameDay” really should pay a visit to Arkadelphia one of these years.

And attending a Battle of the Ravine should be on every Arkansan’s bucket list. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cliff Harris Stadium.

There’s much on the line this year.

Ouachita is tied for the Great American Conference lead with Arkansas Tech and is seeking its third GAC title in seven years.

Henderson, meanwhile, has the nation’s longest road winning streak at 31 games. Yes, it’s a road game even though the Reddies only have to walk across U.S. Highway 67.

We ran the table on the picks last week, going 7-0 to improve our season record to 64-17.

Here are the picks for Week 11:

Ouachita 39, Henderson 38 — This is usually a battle to remember, and the 2017 edition should be no different. Ouachita held onto its share of the GAC lead with an amazing finish in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado. The 8-2 Tigers beat 6-4 Southern Arkansas by a final score of 45-42 in a game in which the lead changed hands four times in the final four minutes. You read that correctly: Four times in the final four minutes. SAU scored on a 23-yard pass with 3:34 left to go up 35-31. Ouachita then scored on a 47-yard pass with 2:43 remaining to go ahead 38-35. SAU scored on a nine-yard pass with 58 seconds left to retake the lead at 42-38. Ouachita scored on a 13-yard pass with 33 seconds on the clock for a 45-42 lead. A long pass into the end zone by the Muleriders on the final play was broken up. SAU had 611 yards of offense, and Ouachita had 573. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner set a school record with 533 yards passing in a losing cause. Henderson kept its road winning streak alive in Monticello. The Reddies came from behind to defeat UAM by a final score of 28-21 with two late touchdowns. Henderson is 6-4, and UAM is 5-5. The Reddies returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game and then took the lead for good with 5:51 remaining.

Harding 40, Arkansas Tech 30 — The Bisons have won seven consecutive games after starting the season 0-3. And they get better each week. If Harding can beat Tech in Russellville, and Henderson wins the Battle of the Ravine, Harding will share the title with Ouachita and Tech. Harding routed 2-8 East Central Oklahoma last Saturday by a final score of 44-13. The Bisons, who lead NCAA Division II in rushing, have scored 40 or more points in three consecutive games. Tech cruised to a 48-10 victory over a Southeastern Oklahoma team that started the season 6-0 and has now lost four consecutive games. Wonder Boy senior Braden Stringer had 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Tech rushed for 390 yards as a team and had 535 yards of total offense.

Southern Arkansas 29, UAM 24 — Both teams are coming off losses. It has been a disappointing season for SAU, which was picked to win the conference in the coaches’ preseason poll. On the other hand, the 5-5 Boll Weevils from UAM have been better than expected. SAU’s Renner and UAM’s Cole Sears are both quality quarterbacks. This should be a close game with the slight advantage going to the home team.

LSU 37, Arkansas 25 — About the only thing one can say about the game last Saturday in Razorback Stadium is that it was a win. Remember what Houston Dale Nutt used to say: “All wins are precious.” The Razorbacks are 4-5 following the 39-38 decision over Coastal Carolina, a team that came into Fayetteville with a 1-7 record after having lost seven consecutive games. The Chanticleers led  38-25 in the fourth quarter, and we were all thinking Citadel until Arkansas scored the winning touchdown with 1:55 left. Coastal Carolina had gained just 183 yards against Texas State the previous week but had 359 yards against Arkansas. In previous games against Southeastern Conference teams, Coastal Carolina had lost by 59 points at Georgia and 60 points at South Carolina. Arkansas State beat Coastal Carolina by 34 points earlier this season. This might not be rock bottom for the Razorback football program, but you can see it from here. LSU lost to Alabama, but it was just by 14 points — 24-10, a closer game than most people had expected. The Tigers are 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference. The other two losses came by scores of 37-7 to Mississippi State and 24-21 to Troy. The wins have been by scores of 27-0 over BYU, 45-10 over Chattanooga, 35-26 over Syracuse, 17-16 over Florida, 27-23 over Auburn and 40-24 over Ole Miss. This is not a great LSU team, but it appears to be a lot better than Arkansas.

Arkansas State 41, South Alabama 23 — Having had two weeks to prepare, the Red Wolves should roll to victory over a 3-6 South Alabama team late Saturday afternoon in Mobile. The three victories for South Alabama have been by scores of 45-0 over Alabama A&M, 19-8 over Troy and 33-23 over Louisiana-Monroe. The losses have been by scores of 47-27 to Ole Miss, 44-7 to Oklahoma State, 29-23 to Idaho, 34-16 to Louisiana Tech, 21-13 to Georgia State and 19-14 to Louisiana-Lafayette.

UCA 46, Incarnate Word 16 — The Bears are up to No. 3 in the country in FCS and should have no problem on the road in San Antonio on Saturday night against a 1-8 Incarnate Word team. UCA improved to 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the Southland Conference with a 42-14 victory at Lamar last Saturday. The Bears ran off 35 unanswered points beginning in the second quarter. UCA had 565 yards of offense and held Lamar to just 279 yards. Lamar (1-8, 0-7) had only 26 yards rushing. Two regular-season games remain for UCA, and those two teams are a combined 3-15. In other words, the Bears appear headed for an undefeated regular season and the outright Southland Conference title. Incarnate Word’s lone victory was by a score of 33-24 over Lamar. The losses have come by scores of 66-0 to Fresno State, 56-22 to Sacramento State, 37-31 to Stephen F. Austin, 45-20 to Abilene Christian, 49-30 to Southeastern Louisiana, 55-7 to McNeese, 38-31 to Nicholls and 57-20 to Sam Houston State.

Prairie View A&M 18, UAPB 10 — A year ago, UAPB lost 70-0 to Grambling State. There was much improvement this year, but it was still a loss — 31-26 in Pine Bluff to drop the Golden Lions to 2-7 overall and 1-4 in the SWAC. UAPB has now lost five consecutive games. The Golden Lions travel to Texas this week take on a 3-5 Prairie View A&M team. The three Prairie View victories have been by scores of 34-0 over Alabama State, 38-9 over Jackson State and 34-17 over Bacone. The five losses have been by scores of 44-31 to Sam Houston State, 44-13 to Nicholls, 34-21 to Grambling, 34-21 to Alcorn State and 37-31 to Southern University.

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 10

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

We predicted last week that the Razorbacks would beat Ole Miss by one point, and the Hogs did just that.

We also correctly stated that it would be a close game between two bad teams that easily could go either way.

It didn’t appear that would be the case as Arkansas fell behind 31-7 early in the second quarter. It was the largest comeback in school history and the first time in the Bret Bielema era for an Arkansas team to win after trailing at halftime. Bielema-coached teams are now 1-18 when trailing at the half.

Thus the Hogs (3-5, 1-4) ended their seven-game losing streak against Power 5 teams that dated back to last November. Ole Miss (3-5, 1-4) proved to be just what the doctor ordered for a Razorback team that had lost its previous three Southeastern Conference games by a combined score of 141-51.

It will be even more of what the doctor ordered this Saturday afternoon as Coastal Carolina rolls into Fayetteville for the homecoming game.

We were 7-1 on the picks last week to bring the season record to 57-17. We’re 24-3 during the previous three weeks with two of the missed predictions being the result of a 5-4 Henderson team that no one can figure out. First, Henderson lost at home to an East Central Oklahoma squad that came to Arkadelphia with a 1-6 record. A week later, Henderson upset a Southern Arkansas team that was tied for the Great American Conference lead.

With SAU’s 36-30 loss to Henderson and Southeastern Oklahoma’s 42-3 loss to Harding, there are now just two teams rather than four tied for the GAC lead. They’re Ouachita and Arkansas Tech.

Both the Tigers and the Wonder Boys have tough games this week as 7-2 Ouachita battles 6-3 Southern Arkansas at a neutral location in El Dorado and 7-2 Arkansas Tech takes on 6-3 Southeastern Oklahoma in Russellville.

A week later, Tech gets Harding (which is playing better than anyone in the conference right now) in Russellville, and Ouachita hosts Henderson at Cliff Harris Stadium in the Battle of the Ravine. That’s all to say that five schools still have a realistic shot of winning a share of the GAC title with just two weeks remaining in the season.

Here are the picks for Week 10:

Arkansas 49, Coastal Carolina 19 — Coastal Carolina posted a 38-28 win over Massachusetts in its opener and has since lost seven consecutive games — 30-23 to UAB, 52-10 to Western Illinois, 51-43 to Louisiana-Monroe, 27-21 to Georgia State, 51-17 to Arkansas State, 37-29 to Appalachian State and 27-7 to Texas State. Arkansas will tune up for a stretch run of games against LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri. Even with a victory over Coastal Carolina, the Hogs will need to win two of the final three to make it into a bowl game. Bret Bielema’s future is still very much up in the air.

UCA 50, Lamar 17 — It should be easy sledding for the Bears in Beaumont this Saturday night against a 1-7 Lamar squad. UCA improved to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the Southland Conference with a 47-17 victory in Conway last week over a strong McNeese State team that had entered the game with records of 6-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play. UCA gets better with each passing week. Bear quarterback Hayden Hildebrand completed 12 of 16 passes for 350 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Cowboys. Lamar’s only victory this season came against Texas-Permian Basin. The losses have been by scores of 59-14 to North Texas, 35-28 to Northwestern State of Louisiana, 49-21 to Southeastern Louisiana, 41-14 to Nicholls, 33-24 to Incarnate Word, 63-27 to Sam Houston State and 34-7 to Stephen F. Austin.

Grambling 40, UAPB 14 — UAPB hung around for the longest last Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock before falling 47-40 to Southern University. The Golden Lions, who dropped to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the SWAC, trailed 34-14 at halftime but got to within eight points at 40-32 early in the fourth quarter. The UAPB losing streak likely will extend to five games this Saturday afternoon when Grambling rolls into Pine Bluff with records of 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the SWAC. The only Tiger loss came by a score of 43-14 to Tulane in the season opener. Grambling has since posted victories of 23-10 over Northwestern State of Louisiana, 36-21 over Jackson State, 38-6 over Mississippi Valley State, 31-20 over Clark Atlanta, 34-21 over Prairie View A&M, 41-14 over Alcorn State and 50-24 over Texas Southern.

Ouachita 35, SAU 33 — With Ouachita leading a much-improved UAM team by just six points, 20-14, at the half last Saturday at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia, most of those in attendance thought the game might come down to the final possession. Ouachita then played its best half of the season and won going away, 55-21. The Tigers had 554 yards of offense, including 398 yards on the ground. They scored on five consecutive possessions in the second half to remain tied with Tech atop the GAC. On the other side of U.S. Highway 67 that Saturday afternoon, Southern Arkansas was being upset by a Henderson team that had lost five consecutive home games dating back to last season’s Battle of the Ravine. Southern Arkansas was the preseason pick to win the conference and must secure a victory over Ouachita in El Dorado on Saturday to retain any hope of earning a share of the title. What’s known as the Murphy USA Classic should be a highly entertaining game since both teams have plenty of offensive weapons.

Henderson 32, UAM 28 — Both Henderson and UAM have 5-4 records. But the Reddies have the nation’s longest road winning streak at 30 games, and they’re on the road in Monticello this week. Henderson, which won three of the first five GAC championships, is feeling better about itself after the win over SAU. The Reddies trailed 24-14 entering the fourth quarter, but Reddie senior quarterback Evan Lassiter threw two touchdown passes in the final quarter. He was 16 of 24 passing on the afternoon for 213 yards.

Harding 55, East Central Oklahoma 13 — No one is slowing down the Bisons these days. After losing their first three games of the season, they’ve now won six consecutive contests. Last week’s 42-3 win over Southeastern Oklahoma in Durant marked the third consecutive week that the Harding defense had held an opponent without a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Harding offense had a season-high 591 total yards. East Central is 2-7 following last Saturday’s 38-10 loss to Arkansas Tech. Harding can practically name the score in this one.

Arkansas Tech 38, Southeastern Oklahoma 30 — Tech won its third consecutive game last Saturday while outgaining East Central Oklahoma 425-316. Wonder Boy senior quarterback Ty Reasnor was 24 of 35 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Tech hosts a Southeastern Oklahoma team that won its first six games and has since dropped three consecutive contests. Expect that losing streak to go to four in Russellville on Saturday afternoon.

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 9

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

There’s not much left to say about the Razorbacks.

Let me make this point since we make picks for all 10 of the NCAA Division I and Division II schools in the state: There’s a lot of good college football being played in Arkansas this year.

There are 10 non-Power 5 NCAA programs in the state. They have a combined record of 48-26 at this point in the season.

Five of the 10 are at least tied for the lead in their conferences.

Eight of the 10 have winning records.

You disgruntled Razorback fans really should try catching games in Jonesboro, Conway, Arkadelphia, Magnolia, Monticello, Pine Bluff, Searcy or Russellville. You might enjoy yourselves.

We were 8-1 on the picks last week, missing only on Henderson’s homecoming loss in Arkadelphia to an East Central Oklahoma team that came to town with a 1-6 record. The Reddies have the longest road winning streak in the country at 30 games. But they’ve lost their past five home games. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in college football.

The record for the season is now 50-16.

On to the picks for Week 9:

Arkansas 29, Ole Miss 28 — These are two programs in disarray. I’ll probably regret picking the Hogs, but the Ole Miss problems seem even deeper that what Arkansas is experiencing at this time. The Rebels (3-4, 1-3) lost quarterback Shea Patterson in the 40-24 loss to LSU in Oxford last Saturday night. Patterson had come into the game leading the Southeastern Conference in passing yardage. The Tigers’ Derrius Guice gashed the Rebel defense for 276 rushing yards. Arkansas (2-5, 0-4) appeared listless in the second half of a 52-20 loss to Auburn in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have now lost seven consecutive games to Power 5 opponents. Auburn scored on its first three possessions of the second half to turn a 17-6 halftime lead into a rout. Arkansas is 0-4 in the SEC for a fifth time since joining the league in 1992. Auburn had 629 yards of offense, topping 600 yards against Arkansas for a second consecutive year. With both Arkansas and Ole Miss struggling, this one is hard to pick. The Ole Miss wins have been by scores of 47-27 over South Alabama, 45-23 over Tennessee-Martin and 57-35 over Vanderbilt. In addition to last Saturday’s loss to LSU, there have been losses by scores of 27-16 to California, 66-3 to Alabama and 44-23 to Auburn.

Arkansas State 41, New Mexico State 30 — The Red Wolves are rolling. In the 47-3 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in Jonesboro on Thursday night, quarterback Justice Hansen had 396 yards of offense. He rushed for 121 yards and was 23 of 37 passing for 275 yards. The Red Wolves (4-2, 3-0) posted their largest margin of victory in Sun Belt Conference play since 2012. The Arkansas State defense scored for a second consecutive game. New Mexico State is 3-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play. In addition to the 42-24 loss to Arkansas, New Mexico State has lost 37-31 to Arizona State, 27-24 to Troy and 45-31 to Appalachian State. The three victories have come by scores of 30-28 over New Mexico, 41-14 over UTEP and 35-27 over Georgia Southern.

UCA 34, McNeese State 32 — It’s showdown time again in the Southland Conference. UCA is 6-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play. McNeese State comes to town with records of 6-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play. The Cowboys’ lone loss was to Nicholls State in the opener by a score of 37-35. The six consecutive victories since then have come by scores of 42-21 over Florida Tech, 34-27 over Alcorn State, 27-12 over Houston Baptist, 35-0 over Stephen F. Austin, 13-7 over Abilene Christian and 55-7 over Incarnate Word. The Bears already have had a huge home victory over Sam Houston State but must survive another strong challenge in Conway this Saturday night. UCA went on the road to Louisiana last Saturday night and waited out two lengthy weather delays before completing a 45-17 victory over Northwestern State. The game was tied 10-10 in the second quarter before the Bears pulled away. UCA quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 12 of 20 passing for 306 yards and three touchdowns. Carlos Blackman rushed 23 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns for the Bears.

Southern 33, UAPB 12 — The Golden Lions (2-5, 1-2) have had two weeks to prepare for this Saturday afternoon’s game at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium, but it might not matter against a Southern University team that appears to have superior athletes. The Jaguars are 3-3 with victories of 14-8 over South Carolina State, 35-14 over Alabama A&M and 35-17 over Jackson State. The losses have come by scores of 45-0 to Southern Mississippi, 51-17 to Texas-San Antonio and 48-31 to Alcorn State.

Ouachita 45, UAM 43 — It’s questionable whether Ouachita can stop UAM’s passing attack. It’s equally questionable whether UAM can stop Ouachita’s rushing game. This should be a highly entertaining, high-scoring game at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon. Ouachita is tied for the conference lead at 6-2 with three other schools — Southern Arkansas, Arkansas Tech and Southeastern Oklahoma. UAM is right behind at 5-3. Ouachita rolled at home last Saturday afternoon in a 52-14 victory over 0-8 Oklahoma Baptist. The Tigers had six rushing touchdowns, an interception returned for a touchdown and 632 yards of offense in that game. In Monticello, meanwhile, UAM posted a 35-23 victory over 3-4 Southern Nazarene. Boll Weevil quarterback Cole Sears was eight of 14 passing for 127 yards and three touchdowns.

Southern Arkansas 24, Henderson 15 — The Reddies remain hard to figure out with their 30 consecutive road wins and their five consecutive home losses. Unfortunately for them, they’re back home in Arkadelphia this Saturday afternoon. The Reddies fell 24-16 to East Central Oklahoma after having trailed 24-3 at the half. In Magnolia last Saturday, SAU trounced the team that had been alone in first, Southeastern Oklahoma. The 49-19 defeat marked Southeastern’s second consecutive loss. The Savage Storm had been upset by Henderson in Durant the previous week. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner was 20 of 31 passing for 306 yards and three touchdowns. The Muleriders had 572 yards of offense and held Southeastern to 284 yards. The SAU ground game was paced by Michael Nunnery with 112 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Arkansas Tech 40, East Central Oklahoma 26 — The Wonder Boys will attempt to hang onto their share of the GAC lead against East Central in Ada. Tech beat  3-5 Northwestern Oklahoma by a final score of 66-10 last Saturday in Russellville. It was the largest margin of victory for Tech since beating Ozarks (which dropped football later in the decade) 60-0 in 1960. Tech had 309 yards of rushing against Northwestern.

Harding 38, Southeastern Oklahoma 22 — The Bisons are playing better than anyone in the conference right now. They started 0-3, and then the youngsters grew up. The fifth consecutive victory came last Saturday by a score of 42-0 over 2-6 Southwestern Oklahoma. It was also the second consecutive shutout for Harding, which started the game with two safeties and a 4-0 lead. Harding outrushed Southwestern 272-87. This will be the third consecutive loss for Southeastern after having started the season 6-0.

 

 

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 8

Monday, October 16th, 2017

A wounded band of Auburn Tigers will play in Fayetteville on Saturday, but the Razorbacks simply don’t appear to have the firepower in 2017 to hang with Gus Malzahn & Co.

Last Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Alabama went 75 yards for a score on its first play from scrimmage, and the game was over for all practical purposes.

Alabama 41, Arkansas 9.

That’s about what everyone expected, and let’s not start with the moral victory, silver lining stuff. We’ll leave that to the likes of Vanderbilt.

Alabama (7-0, 4-0) outgained Arkansas (2-4, 0-3) 496-227 in total yardage and 308-27 on the ground. The Tide averaged 7.8 yards per play, and Arkansas averaged 3.2 yards. Alabama has now scored five times on its first play from scrimmage in the Nick Saban era.

Arkansas is 4-19 through the years against teams ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll. Alabama, meanwhile, is 70-11 when ranked No. 1. Alabama has played Arkansas five times when atop the AP poll and won all five of those games.

Since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1992, Arkansas has started 0-3 in SEC play eight times. This was the 11th consecutive loss to Alabama and the sixth consecutive loss by Arkansas to a Power 5 opponent. Saban last lost to Arkansas in the 2002 Miracle on Markham when he was the head coach at LSU.

Arkansas should be able to stay in the game much longer at home against Auburn. But a victory for the Hogs is probably too much to expect in a season that unraveled early.

We were 9-1 on the picks last week. Only UAPB let us down, and this might have been the low point of the Monte Coleman era as the Golden Lions fell to an 0-6 Central State team out of Ohio before a large homecoming crowd in Pine Bluff. UAPB had lost the previous week to a Mississippi Valley State team that also came into the game winless. The Golden Lions are now 2-5 and might have a hard time winning another one.

We did successfully predict that all six Arkansas teams from the Great American Conference would defeat the six GAC teams from Oklahoma even though the six games were in Oklahoma. That included picking Henderson’s upset victory at Southeastern Oklahoma.

After a crazy start to the season, I’ve been expecting the cream to rise to the top in the GAC, and the cream tends to be the Arkansas teams.

Ouachita, Arkansas Tech and Southern Arkansas are 5-2.

Harding, Henderson and UAM are 4-3.

This is the year that 9-2 likely will win the conference outright.

The record is now 42-15 on our picks for the season. Here are the picks for Week 8:

Auburn 31, Arkansas 21 — Auburn led LSU 20-0 in the first half at Baton Rouge, but the visiting team’s offense disappeared after that. LSU closed the margin to nine points at 23-14 by halftime and then shut Auburn out in the second half. Auburn had won four games in a row since losing to the defending national champions from Clemson by a final score of 14-6. Auburn now finds itself 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. Auburn only had 64 yards of offense in the second half. Look for the Hogs to hang around for at least three quarters this Saturday night.

Arkansas State 35, Louisiana-Lafayette 27 — This is a Thursday night game in Jonesboro. ASU improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Sun Belt Conference last Saturday night in Jonesboro with a 51-17 rout of Coastal Carolina (1-5, 0-3), which will play Arkansas in Fayetteville later this year. Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen threw five touchdown passes to tie the single-game record he had already tied against UAPB earlier this season. Hansen has 19 touchdown passes in just five games. With six more, he will break the school record set by Fredi Knighten in 2014. Hansen was 24 of 37 passing for 286 yards against Coastal Carolina. Louisiana-Lafayette is 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play. The wins have come by scores of 51-48 over Southeastern Louisiana, 21-16 over Idaho and 24-7 over Texas State. The loses were by scores of 66-42 to Tulsa, 45-21 to Texas A&M and 56-50 to Louisiana-Monroe in two overtimes.

UCA 40, Northwestern State 19 — The Bears maintained their Top 10 ranking in the FCS in Conway on Saturday night with a victory over Stephen F. Austin, but it didn’t come without a struggle. UCA had to come from behind late in the fourth quarter to beat SFA, 24-20. The Lumberjacks (2-5, 2-3) are coached by former UCA head man Clint Conque. UCA (5-1, 4-0) is the only one-loss college team in the state. Bear quarterback Hayden Hildebrand didn’t have his best night. He threw three interceptions after having thrown just two total in the first five games. But Hildebrand led the Bears on the winning drive, which ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Roman Gordon with 1:30 left. It was the first time UCA had trailed in the second half since the season-opening loss to Kansas State, and the Bears responded. This Saturday’s road game in Louisiana shouldn’t be as challenging. Northwestern is 1-5 with the only victory having come by a final score of 35-28 over Lamar. The losses have been by scores of 52-24 to Louisiana Tech, 23-10 to Grambling State, 49-20 to Southeastern Louisiana, 14-10 to Nicholls State and 40-36 to Sam Houston State.

Henderson 29, East Central Oklahoma 10 — The Reddies did the rest of the conference a favor by going to Durant and handing Southeastern Oklahoma its first defeat after six consecutive Savage Storm victories to start the season. Henderson thus extends the nation’s longest road winning streak to 30 games with that 21-20 victory. The Reddies have lost four consecutive road games dating back to last year’s Battle of the Ravine, but expect them to end that streak against a 1-6 East Central team. In the win over Southeastern, Evan Lassiter was 28 of 46 passing for the Reddies for 316 yards. The Reddies relied heavily on the pass as 357 of their 397 yards of total offense came through the air.

Ouachita 34, Oklahoma Baptist 14 — The Tigers struggled on the road last Thursday night before defeating a vastly improved 3-4 Southern Nazarene squad that had defeated both Harding and Henderson earlier in the season. Trailing 14-13, Ouachita scored in the fourth quarter on a 67-yard pass from Austin Warford of Malvern to Drew Harris of Benton. The Tigers then converted a two-point conversion to win 21-14. Ouachita should have a bit easier time of it Saturday afternoon in Arkadelphia against an 0-7 Oklahoma Baptist team.

Harding 49, Southwestern Oklahoma 28 — The Bisons are on a roll. The defending GAC champions started the season 0-3, but then all of those first-time starters figured out what they were doing. The Bisons have won four consecutive games and get stronger each week. Harding shut out 3-4 Northwestern Oklahoma by a final score of 34-0 in Alva on Saturday. The Bisons, who lead NCAA Division II in rushing, outrushed the Rangers 408-83.

UAM 22, Southern Nazarene 20 — As noted, Southern Nazarene is much improved (the Crimson Storm is 3-0 on the road) and should give the Boll Weevils all they can handle on homecoming afternoon in Monticello. UAM is now 4-3 after dropping Oklahoma Baptist to 0-7 with a 64-21 victory in Shawnee. UAM outgained its opponent 590-367. Cole Sears passed for 251 yards and five touchdowns for the Weevils.

Arkansas Tech 33, Northwestern Oklahoma 18 — The Wonder Boys, who won their first four games and moved to No. 11 in the national rankings, ended a two-game losing skid with a 38-21 victory over 2-5 Southwestern Oklahoma at Weatherford. Braden Stringer rushed for 111 yards for the Wonder Boys, and Ty Reasnor passed for 211 yards.

Southern Arkansas 30, Southeastern Oklahoma 26 — Despite the loss to Henderson, Southeastern remains alone in first in the conference at 6-1. The Muleriders can change all of that in Magnolia on Saturday afternoon. SAU struggled a bit before dropping East Central Oklahoma to 1-6 with a 35-28 win last Saturday at Ada. Barrett Renner passed for 176 yards for the Muleriders. SAU outgained East Central 217-53 on the ground.

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 7

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Where do we even begin?

We were one of the few in the state to pick South Carolina over Arkansas last week, but even we didn’t see that 48-22 whipping coming.

The Razorbacks are 2-3 overall, and a losing season looms. For the fourth time in Bret Bielema’s five years as head coach, they start 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference.

Under Bielema, the Hogs are 0-16 in games they trailed at the half.

Arkansas has lost its past five games to Power 5 teams, and that streak will go to six since this Saturday has the Razorbacks traveling to Tuscaloosa for a night game against the No. 1 team in the country.

Picking that one is easy.

What’s ruining our average is the crazy Great American Conference where nothing makes sense.

Parity rules with Ouachita, Arkansas Tech and Southern Arkansas all at 4-2, and Henderson, UAM and Harding all at 3-3.

Harding upset Ouachita, and UAM upset Arkansas Tech last weekend. That gave us two of our three misses for the week.

The other miss was picking UAPB to win. We figured the Golden Lions might get a victory against a Mississippi Valley State squad that came to Pine Bluff with an 0-4 record. But it was not to be.

It’s really sad to see how far the UAPB program has fallen. Just when we swear not to pick the Golden Lions to win another game, we notice that they’re playing an 0-6 Central State team out of Ohio. So we’ll go with UAPB this week and probably end up regretting it.

Our 5-3 record last week makes us 33-14 for the season.

Here are the picks for Week 7:

Alabama 49, Arkansas 17 — The Gamecocks scored three defensive touchdowns against Arkansas as South Carolina improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. In the process, South Carolina ended a seven-game losing streak to SEC West teams. It was the highest point total against a Power 5 team for South Carolina since a victory over Arkansas in 2013. Bielema said afterward: “The third quarter probably was one of the most frustrating quarters I’ve ever been involved with. It just seemed everything disintegrated right in front of us.” What do you think it will feel like this Saturday night in Tuscaloosa? After outscoring its first two SEC opponents 125-3, Alabama pretty much took the night off in College Station with a 27-19 victory over Texas A&M. The Aggies fell to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference, while Alabama improved to 6-0 and 3-0. You have to believe that Nick Saban won’t allow two consecutive close games against inferior opponents.

Arkansas State 30, Coastal Carolina 20 — The Red Wolves opened Sun Belt Conference play last week on a Wednesday night with a 43-25 win at Georgia Southern, which fell to 0-4. Arkansas State, now 2-2 overall, came up with four interceptions and one fumble recovery in that game. Chris Murray had five receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns to lead the ASU offense. Coastal Carolina gets to come to the state of Arkansas twice this fall. This Saturday sees a trip to Jonesboro. That will be followed by a Nov. 4 visit to Fayetteville to take on the Razorbacks. The Chanticleers won their opening game against Massachusetts by 10 points, 38-28. They have since lost four consecutive games — 30-23 to UAB, 52-10 to Western Illinois, 51-43 to Louisiana-Monroe and 27-21 to Georgia State.

UCA 37, Stephen F. Austin 28 — With both Arkansas Tech and Ouachita getting upset last week, there are only two one-loss teams remaining in the state. And they’re both in Conway — UCA and Hendrix. UCA had that huge win over Sam Houston State on the final Saturday of September. There was no letdown on the first Saturday of October as the Bears moved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the Southland Conference with a 27-7 victory at Houston Baptist (1-4, 0-3). Senior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 19 of 30 passing for the Bears for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Former UCA head coach Clint Conque brings his Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin to Conway this Saturday night. SFA is 2-4 overall and 2-2 in conference. Two losses to open the season were followed by two wins and then two more defeats. The SFA victories were by scores of 37-31 over Incarnate Word and 20-10 over Abilene Christian. The losses were by scores of 58-14 to SMU, 51-14 to Southern Utah, 35-0 to McNeese and 27-16 to Sam Houston State.

UAPB 15, Central State 13 — The 38-31 loss in Pine Bluff last Saturday night to Mississippi Valley State was a bad one. The Delta Devils, after all, had lost 15 of their previous 16 games. But the Golden Lions, who are struggling just as mightily, have now lost two years in a row to Mississippi Valley State. UAPB is 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the SWAC. Our instincts tell us not to pick UAPB again this year, but the opponent in Pine Bluff this Saturday is an 0-6 Central State team that has lost 24-23 to Elizabeth City State, 55-14 to Clark Atlanta, 35-33 to Morehouse, 22-34 to Kentucky State, 21-11 to Benedict College and 41-20 to Miles College.

Ouachita 40, Southern Nazarene 31 — This is a Thursday night game on the road for Ouachita. The Tigers will try to shake off that disappointing homecoming loss to Harding, but they can’t take this one for granted since this is a new version of Southern Nazarene (3-3). In fact, Southern Nazarene is the only GAC school other than the Ouachita team that went undefeated in 2014 to beat both Harding and Henderson in the same season. And those wins came in Searcy and Arkadelphia. The problem for the Crimson Storm is that they’re 0-3 at home, and this game is at home.

UAM 44, Oklahoma Baptist 35 — The Boll Weevils evened their record at 3-3 with a stunning 46-45 victory over Arkansas Tech. The Wonder Boys had started the season 4-0 and moved to No 11 nationally in NCAA Division II before back-to-back losses to Ouachita and UAM. Tech led by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, but UAM’s Cole Sears led his team back. Sears threw a touchdown pass with 8:43 left. After a Tech field goal, Sears scored on a 10-yard run with 1:44 remaining. Oklahoma Baptist is the only winless school in the GAC at 0-6.

Harding 27, Northwestern Oklahoma 26 — This should be an exciting game way out in Alva, Okla., between a pair of 3-3 squads. Harding has momentum. Having lost most of the starters off the team that went 11-0 in the regular season a year ago, the Bisons started the year 0-3. They’ve now won three consecutive games and looked like the old Harding against Ouachita on Saturday. That 31-28 victory in Arkadelphia should give Harding the momentum it needs to have a good season going forward. Tristan Parsley even put through a 50-yard field goal against Ouachita on a day when everything went right for the Bisons.

Southern Arkansas 34, East Central Oklahoma 22 — The Muleriders, the conference’s preseason favorite, moved to 4-2 with a 27-15 victory at Southern Nazarene as SAU quarterback Barrett Renner completed 21 of his 34 passes for 250 yards. East Central is 1-5.

Arkansas Tech 43, Southwestern Oklahoma 36 — The Wonder Boys should bounce back in Weatherford on Saturday against a Southwestern team that’s 2-4. Tech has talent and now has to hope that at least two teams can knock off 6-0 Southeastern Oklahoma in the final five games of the season. Southeastern’s next four opponents are Henderson in Durant, Southern Arkansas in Magnolia, Harding in Durant and Arkansas Tech in Russellville. All four Arkansas squads are capable of defeating the Savage Storm.

Henderson 25, Southeastern Oklahoma 24 — Upset special! We’re calling for the 3-3 Reddies to shock the 6-0 Savage Storm since it’s a road game for Henderson. In case you haven’t heard, Henderson has the nation’s longest road winning streak at 29 games. Reddie players just don’t feel they can lose on the road, and that confidence can be contagious. The streak almost came to an end last Saturday. Oklahoma Baptist scored with 10 seconds remaining in the game to pull within a point of the Reddies, 14-13. The Bison faked the extra point, but a pass fell incomplete and Henderson held on for the victory.

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 6

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Halloween nears. Maybe we have an explanation for that announced attendance of 70,000 in Fayetteville last Saturday.

About 20,000 fans came disguised as empty seats.

Arkansas did what it needed to do in the 42-24 victory over New Mexico State.

Austin Allen passed for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Jonathan Nance had six receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns. The Hogs outrushed the Aggies, 230-11. Arkansas also dominated in time of possession, 41:35 to 18:25.

It had been 30 days since the previous victory so the lack of drama in the second half was nice for Razorback fans after Arkansas had scored on six of its first seven possessions. Now, the bad news: Arkansas must return to Southeastern Conference play. The silver lining there is that at least seven of the 14 teams in the conference are average at best this year.

We limped to a 4-3 record last week, making the record 28-11 for the season.

We’ll start this week with Arkansas State, which has one of those horrible Wednesday night games.

Arkansas State 36, Georgia Southern 20 — The fact that Arkansas State came close at Nebraska in its season opener doesn’t look as good as it did at the time given the Cornhuskers’ struggles. The Red Wolves’ 48-3 win over a weak UAPB team told us nothing, and the 44-21 loss to SMU was discouraging for ASU fans. Fortunately for the Red Wolves, the Sun Belt Conference opener is against a Georgia Southern squad that’s not very good. The home team will come into the Wednesday night affair (which will be shown on ESPN2) with an 0-3 record following losses of 41-7 to Auburn, 22-12 to New Hampshire and 52-17 to Indiana.

South Carolina 31, Arkansas 30 — Two SEC teams in need of a conference victory square off in Columbia on Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks are 3-2 overall and 1-2 in SEC play with wins of 35-28 over North Carolina State, 31-13 over Missouri and 17-16 over Louisiana Tech. The losses have come by scores of 23-13 to Kentucky and 24-17 to Texas A&M. In College Station last Saturday, Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond passed for 159 yards and ran for another 95 as Texas A&M moved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC. With so many questions surrounding both South Carolina and Arkansas, we see this game as a tossup. We’ll give a slight edge to the home team.

UCA 39, Houston Baptist 19 — What a win that was in Conway for UCA on Saturday night. Sam Houston State came to town ranked No. 3 nationally in the FCS and went home with a 41-30 defeat. The Bearkats had won the previous three games in the series. UCA came out on fire, building an 18-point lead in the first half. Sam Houston pulled within four points at 34-30 in the fourth quarter, but UCA took advantage of a dropped snap on a punt. The Bears recovered the ball at the Sam Houston 17 and scored two plays later to put the game away. UCA quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 13 of 25 passing for 294 yards and four touchdowns as his team improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Southland Conference play. The Bears must go on the road this week, but 1-3 Houston Baptist shouldn’t provide much of a challenge. The only HBU victory has been a 24-17 win over Texas Southern from the SWAC. The losses have been by scores of 20-11 to Texas State, 34-3 to Abilene Christian and 27-12 to McNeese.

UAPB 18, Mississippi Valley State 17 — UAPB fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the SWAC with a 27-14 loss at Alabama A&M (2-3, 2-0). This Saturday’s game in Pine Bluff could be a chance to get well against an 0-4 Mississippi Valley State squad that has lost 72-7 to North Dakota State, 55-3 to Southern Illinois, 38-6 to Grambling and 58-7 to Charleston Southern.

Ouachita 38, Harding 34 — Yes, Ouachita is 4-1 and coming off a big win in Russellville Yes, Harding is 2-3, having lost 17 starters and its head coach from a team that went undefeated in the regular season last year. Yes, it’s Ouachita’s homecoming. But games between these two schools haven’t been decided until the final minutes of play for four consecutive seasons (Ouachita has won two, and Harding has won two). There’s no reason to think Saturday’s game will be any different. With so many new starters, Harding began the season 0-3. Don’t be fooled. The Bisons are dangerous, having won two consecutive games. The double-slot offense seemed to be hitting its stride in a 56-46 win over UAM last Saturday as the Bisons rushed for 474 yards and seven touchdowns with two backs topping 100 yards. Harding finished the game with 535 yards of offense.

Arkansas Tech 40, UAM 28 — Tech was flying high coming into its home game against Ouachita with a 4-0 record and a No 11 ranking in NCAA Division II. The Wonder Boys had an eight-point lead and the ball in the fourth quarter but couldn’t put away pesky Ouachita. They wound up losing 35-31. Ouachita’s Drew Harris (the son of Benton High School head coach Brad Harris) ran 34 yards for a touchdown with 7:18 left in the game, but a failed two-point conversion left Ouachita trailing 31-29. The Tigers forced a punt, and Harris scored from four yards out with 1:36 remaining. Tech drove to the Ouachita 18, but a pass into the end zone was tipped away on the game’s final play to leave both teams with a 4-1 record. Tech is a superior team to 2-3 UAM and should get back on track Saturday in Monticello.

Henderson 47, Oklahoma Baptist 21 — It’s hard to figure out this 2-3 Reddie team. Real hard. Henderson has won 28 consecutive road games. Yet the Reddies have lost four consecutive home games dating back to last season’s Battle of the Ravine. Losses in Arkadelphia this year have come to Arkansas Tech, Northwestern Oklahoma and, most surprising of all, a Southern Nazarene team that prior to this season had been the Great American Conference punching bag. No one saw the Reddies’ 42-24 loss to Southern Nazarene coming. There are two pieces of positive news for Henderson this week. This first is that the game is on the road. The second is that the opponent is the worst team in the conference, 0-5 Oklahoma Baptist. Reddies roll.

Southern Arkansas 37, Southern Nazarene 16 — Southern Nazarene is like Henderson in the fact that it wins on the road and loses at home. The Crimson Storm is at home this week. Both SAU and Southern Nazarene are 3-2. The difference is that Nazarene was supposed to have a worse record at this point. And SAU, picked to win the conference in the coaches’ preseason poll, was supposed to have a better record. The Muleriders are coming off a 56-27 victory over hapless Oklahoma Baptist. SAU rolled up 718 yards of offense. Quarterback Barrett Renner was 32 of 41 passing for 405 yards and six touchdowns.

Post to Twitter

College football: Week 5

Monday, September 25th, 2017

We’ve seen this show before, haven’t we?

Texas A&M 50, Arkansas 43 in overtime at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

It was the sixth consecutive win for the Aggies over Arkansas, tying the record set from 1938-43.

If Coach Kevin Sumlin’s team could play the Razorbacks more often, he wouldn’t be on the hot seat. Sumlin is 6-0 against the Hogs, and Bret Bielema is 0-5 against the Aggies. Three of the past four Arkansas losses in the series have come in overtime

A&M is 5-0 in overtime games under Sumlin. Both Arkansas and Texas A&M have 12 overtime victories, tying them for the second most overtime wins in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Aggies continue to have Arkansas’ number, and the Razorback fan base grows increasingly restless with a team that’s 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the Southeastern Conference.

It appears the weather will be wonderful in Arkansas on Saturday. It will be a good day for college football with games in seven Arkansas cities — Fayetteville, Conway, Magnolia, Russellville, Arkadelphia, Searcy and Batesville.

In what could turn out to be the game of the year in the Southland Conference, 3-0 Sam Houston State travels to Conway to take on 2-1 UCA. Sam Houston State is No. 3 nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision, and UCA is No 12 in the FCS. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

And in what could turn out to be the game of the year in the Great American Conference, 3-1 Ouachita travels to Russellville to take on 4-0 Arkansas Tech. The Wonder Boys are No. 11 in this week’s American Football Coaches Association Division II poll. It’s the highest ranking for a Tech team since 2005. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

We were 6-3 on the picks last week, making the record 24-8 for the season.

Here are the picks for Week 5:

Arkansas 40, New Mexico State 30 — Arkansas must take on another group of Aggies, and it’s another 11 a.m. kickoff. New Mexico State comes to Fayetteville with a 2-2 record. The wins have been by scores of 30-28 over New Mexico and 41-14 over UTEP. The losses were by scores of 37-31 to Arizona State and 27-24 to Troy. Normally this should be a blowout. But this is an Arkansas team that gives up big plays. Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, for example, had a 100-yard kickoff return, two touchdown catches and 246 all-purpose yards. A&M had four plays of 44 yards or longer. So expect this new group of Aggies to hang around for most of the game with Arkansas pulling away at the end.

Sam Houston State 33, UCA 28 — This is an opportunity for the Bears to make a statement and move into the Top 10. And they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this one. Sam Houston State has won games by scores of 48-34 over Richmond, 44-31 over Prairie View and 66-17 over Nicholls State. This should be a highly entertaining battle against a Bear team that bounced back from an opening loss at Kansas State to post victories over Murray State and Southeastern Louisiana.

Alabama A&M 15, UAPB 14 — The Golden Lions are off to a 1-0 start in the SWAC (2-2 overall) following a 34-27 overtime victory over 0-4 Jackson State on Saturday. UAPB trailed 27-16 at the end of the third quarter but got a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 13:10 remaining. A 33-yard field goal with 15 seconds left forced overtime and set the stage for the Golden Lion victory. Alabama A&M lost its three nonconference games by scores of 38-7 to UAB, 42-0 to Vanderbilt and 45-0 to the University of South Alabama. A&M won its SWAC opener by a final score of 30-13 over Texas Southern. Which team will move to 2-0 in the SWAC? We’ll give Alabama A&M the slight edge as the home team.

Arkansas Tech 35, Ouachita 27 — The Wonder Boys upset the preseason favorite in the conference — Southern Arkansas — on the final night of August in Russellville and have gotten better each week with subsequent victories over Henderson, Oklahoma Baptist and Southern Nazarene. In last Saturday’s 52-0 victory over 2-2 Southern Nazarene, Tech quarterback Ty Reasnor was 16 of 22 passing for 205 yards. Ouachita, meanwhile, defeated 1-3 East Central Oklahoma 45-14 as Drew Harris out of Benton scored three touchdowns for the Tigers. Ouachita has won its two road games by margins of 28 and 31 points, but Southwestern Oklahoma and East Central aren’t to be confused with Tech. Ouachita could easily be 4-0 had its defense shown up in the first half of a 41-35 loss to a Southeastern Oklahoma team that’s now 4-0.

Henderson 41, Southern Nazarene 19 — Those used to seeing Henderson win GAC games were stunned when the Reddies started the season 1-2. Henderson appeared to get back on track Saturday with a 37-14 victory against a 1-3 Southwestern Oklahoma club. That extended the nation’s longest road winning streak to 28 games. Look for the Reddies to gain some confidence in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon while improving their record to 3-2.

Harding 34, UAM 26 — Yes, Henderson’s 1-2 start was surprising. Even more surprising was the 0-3 start by Harding, which was 11-0 in the regular season a year ago. The defending conference champions finally picked up a victory, going on the road and defeating 0-4 Oklahoma Baptist by a final score of 45-14 in Shawnee. There are a number of first-time starters on this Harding team, and the Bisons’ double-slot offense takes time to perfect. Expect Harding to get better and better as the season goes along. UAM is 2-2 following Saturday’s 41-21 loss at 4-0 Southeastern Oklahoma. UAM quarterback Cole Sears was limited to just 79 yards passing in that game.

Southern Arkansas 37, Oklahoma Baptist 12 — The Muleriders were picked by most to win the GAC in 2017 but find themselves 2-2 following a 38-16 loss to a 2-2 Northwestern Oklahoma team that had upset Henderson the previous week. Barrett Renner passed for 295 yards for SAU in the losing cause. He should be able to pick a bad defense from Oklahoma Baptist apart in Magnolia on Saturday night.

Post to Twitter