Archive for the ‘College football’ Category

College football: Week 3

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

I spoke to a group of visitors from Texas last Friday night and tried to explain why the Arkansas-Texas rivalry is so much more important to us than it is to them.

I talked about all of those decades of being the only non-Texas school in the Southwest Conference and how that made us feel that we didn’t really belong.

I spoke about the psychological scars that those of us of a certain age still carry from the 15-14 loss in the Big Shootout of 1969.

I explained how Frank Broyles came along at just the right time in the late 1950s. Arkansas, after all, had lost a higher percentage of its population than any other state since 1940 and now carried the fresh wounds of the national ridicule heaped on the state in the wake of the 1957 Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis. Within a few years, Broyles gave us something to be proud of.

The three top programs in major college football during the decade of the 1960s were Alabama, Texas and Arkansas. Being in that group helped overcome the infamous Arkansas inferiority complex.

Finally, I put it this way: “You’re Russia. We’re Ukraine.”

On Saturday night, with a national ESPN audience looking on, Ukraine won the war.

Arkansas has, in fact, now won five of the past seven games between these two schools. To quote Coach B once more, it was “borderline erotic.”

Yes, I picked Texas last week. These past few years of failure have conditioned me to always expect the worst. But this team might just be something special. Sure, it’s early. There’s still much to learn.

I went 7-2 on the week (the only other miss was Southeastern Oklahoma’s stunning upset of nationally ranked Harding) to make the record 15-3 for the season.

Let’s get to the picks for this week:

Arkansas 49, Georgia Southern 20 — There’s just one way to say it. Saturday night’s performance was impressive. The Hogs led 16-0 at the half and never looked back. Only two other times had an Arkansas team scored more than 40 points against Texas. And no one had held a Longhorn squad scoreless in the first half since 2015. KJ Jefferson completed 73.7 percent of his passes, and the Razorbacks had three running backs with 65 or more yards in a game for the first time since 2007. Arkansas outgained Texas 471-256 as four Hog tailbacks scored touchdowns. Saturday afternoon’s game against Georgia Southern should be one of those contests in which Arkansas gets everyone into the game. Georgia Southern, which played in bowl games the previous three seasons, needed a defensive stop at its 29 late in the game to hold off an FCS school, Gardner-Webb. The Eagles then lost 28-6 to Florida Atlantic.

Washington 30, Arkansas State 29 — In a shootout at Jonesboro last Saturday night, ASU fell just short, losing 55-50 to Memphis. There were almost 1,300 yards of offense, evenly divided between the two teams. The Red Wolves struggled mightily in the secondary as a freshman quarterback for Memphis completed 22 of 33 passes for 417 yards. Arkansas State mounted a furious comeback late in the fourth quarter with scores at 5:01 and 1:52. ASU has a chance at Washington this week. The Huskies have scored just two offensive touchdowns and are 112th among FBS schools in total offense, averaging 317 yards per game. Of course, the Red Wolves rank 126th out of 130 teams on defense. Washington is 0-2 following losses of 13-7 to Montana and 31-10 to Michigan.

UCA 34, UAPB 24 — The Bears, who lost to ASU in the season opener, fell to 0-2 last Saturday night with a 43-34 loss to Bobby Petrino’s Missouri State squad in a game played at Springfield. There were 40 points scored in the fourth quarter as the lead changed hands four times. UCA outgained Missouri State 453-374 as Breylin Smith threw for 332 yards. UAPB, which won its opener against tiny Lane College on Sept. 4, had last week off. The two schools will square off for the first time since 2008 on Saturday night in Conway. UCA has won the past 10 games in this series and should be able to make it 11 in a row.

Ouachita 31, Arkansas Tech 21 — Ouachita extended its Great American Conference winning streak to 29 games (dating back to 2017) with a 41-3 victory at Southern Nazarene. The 2-0 Tigers are now ranked No. 9 nationally in NCAA Division II in the American Football Coaches Association poll. Ouachita outgained the Crimson Storm 388-35 and held its opponent to 1 of 13 on third down conversion attempts. The Tiger offense held the ball for 39:42. Arkansas Tech comes to Arkadelphia this Saturday night to battle the Tigers at Cliff Harris Stadium. The Wonder Boys fell to 0-2 with a 13-10 loss at East Central Oklahoma. East Central led 6-3 at halftime as both teams struggled on offense.

Henderson 41, UAM 25 — The Reddies moved into the AFCA Division II poll at No. 25 following a 55-7 home victory over Northwestern Oklahoma. The 2-0 Reddies scored 21 points in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter. Henderson quarterback Adam Morse was 19 of 32 passing for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Henderson is on the road this week against UAM and shouldn’t have much trouble with a 1-1 Boll Weevil team that lost 45-20 at Oklahoma Baptist, the best of the six Oklahoma teams in the GAC. Oklahoma Baptist led 35-0 at halftime.

Harding 33, Southern Arkansas 32 — This is the game of the week in the GAC. Southern Arkansas moved to 2-0 with a 42-27 victory over Southwestern Oklahoma, The Muleriders scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Hayden Mallory was 25 of 35 passing for 266 yards. In Durant, Okla., Southeastern scored with just 46 seconds left, went for two, converted and won by a final score of 32-31. Harding lost despite rushing for 336 yards. Harding and SAU are both talented teams. This one should be fun.


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College football: Week 2

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

It’s Texas week.

For folks my age and older, that still means something. We grew up in Arkansas in an era when beating Texas in football was everything. We still have the emotional scars from the 1969 Big Shootout.

For younger folks, it doesn’t mean nearly as much, though it might again when Texas joins the Southeastern Conference.

Bret Bielema didn’t always understand this state and its people, but he hit the nail on the head when he described the 31-7 Razorback victory over Texas in the 2014 Texas Bowl as “borderline erotic.”

The series isn’t close. Texas leads 56-22.

But consider the fact that Arkansas has won four of the past six games between these two schools. It just means more here.

Texas cares more about beating Oklahoma at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. And it will care more about beating Texas A&M once those schools are reunited in the SEC.

Still, playing Texas brings back memories from my youth of the excitement that game created. Broyles vs. Royal. Good vs. evil in the minds of young Arkansans.

I was 8-1 on the picks last week, missing only on Arkansas Tech’s loss in Russellville to Southeastern Oklahoma.

Let’s see if we can run the table this week (something I seriously doubt will happen, by the way).

Texas 35, Arkansas 31 — These two programs aren’t to be confused with the Royal and Broyles programs. Both have struggled in recent years (though Arkansas has struggled far more) and have relatively new coaches. Arkansas found itself down by 10 points to Rice in the opener before righting the ship for a 38-17 victory. KJ Jefferson was 12 of 21 passing for 128 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also had 89 rushing yards. The Razorback defense allowed Rice just 81 rushing yards, but the Owls had success through the air. Rice has now lost 12 consecutive games against SEC teams. Texas, meanwhile, posted a 38-18 victory in Austin over Louisiana-Lafayette, which came in ranked No. 23. Hudson Card threw two touchdown passes in his first career start. Card is a second-year freshman who won the starting job over fourth-year player Casey Thompson. Card was 14 of 21 passing for 224 yards and no interceptions. Arkansas will be helped by a loud home crowd Saturday, but Texas has more talent.

Memphis 28, Arkansas State 25 — ASU trailed UCA 7-6 at the half in Jonesboro on Saturday night, and the home crowd was restless. James Blackman had started the game at quarterback for the Red Wolves and struggled. Lane Hatcher from Little Rock came to the rescue. Hatcher completed all 12 of his pass attempts and threw four touchdown passes as ASU won by a final score of 40-21. This week’s ASU opponent, Memphis, posted a 42-17 victory over Nicholls State. This is a Memphis program that has won at least eight games in each of the past seven seasons. This will be the Tigers’ first trip to Jonesboro since 2012. Memphis should win, but it won’t be easy.

Missouri State 24, UCA 22 — The Bears from UCA must go on the road for a second consecutive week. The opponent this time is Bobby Petrino’s Missouri State squad, which was 5-4 in Petrino’s first season at Springfield. Missouri State gave Oklahoma State all it wanted Saturday before falling 23-16 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. The Cowboys had to defend plays in their end zone twice in the final three minutes before securing the win. The Missouri State defense held OSU to just three points in the second half. UCA and Missouri State are two quality FCS squads. It should be a highly entertaining game.

Henderson 37, Northwestern Oklahoma 21 — The Reddies went on the road last Thursday night and defeated Southwestern Oklahoma by 18 points, 31-13, as quarterback Adam Morse was 17 of 26 passing for 183 yards. The coaches’ preseason poll had Henderson picked third in the Great American Conference, and the Reddies certainly will contend for a title again. Northwestern fell 32-13 to Southern Arkansas in the opener. Northwestern was picked ninth out of 12 teams in the preseason poll.

Ouachita 40, Southern Nazarene 26 — The Tigers, winners of the past three GAC championships, extended their conference winning streak to 28 games, but they had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to do it. Ouachita scored the final 14 points in a 38-31 victory over a talented Oklahoma Baptist team that was 7-4 in 2019 (no GAC games were played in 2020). The Bison could win even more games this year. They appear to be the best of the six Oklahoma teams in the conference. Ouachita’s new quarterback, Grant Allen of Springdale, struggled at times, but T.J. Cole took over on the ground with 151 yards rushing. Nazarene, picked 12th in the preseason poll, is 0-1 following a 30-23 loss to UAM.

Oklahoma Baptist 38, UAM 20 — Demilon Brown completed 19 of 32 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns for the Boll Weevils in their victory at Monticello over Southern Nazarene. The task will be much more difficult Saturday night as the Boll Weevils travel to Oklahoma to take on the aforementioned Bison of Oklahoma Baptist.

East Central Oklahoma 23, Arkansas Tech 19 — The Wonder Boys were the only one of the six Arkansas schools in the GAC to lose to an Oklahoma school last week. Tech fell 43-20 last Thursday night to Southeastern Oklahoma. East Central lost to Harding in Searcy on Saturday. Senior Jack Lindsey, the transfer from Arkansas, completed 15 of 34 passes for 137 yards for Tech in the opener. This should be a close game between two teams attempting to find their way.

Harding 30, Southeastern Oklahoma 11 — Harding shut out East Central 28-0 as Cole Chancey rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Chancey became the GAC’s leading rusher. His 3,775 yards surpassed Ouachita’s Kris Oliver, who ran for 3,763 yards from 2015-18. Harding was picked second in the preseason poll and will yet again contend for a conference crown. In the 2019 regular season, Ouachita was 11-0, Harding was 10-1 and Henderson was 9-2.

Southern Arkansas 33, Southwestern Oklahoma 18 — The Muleriders opened the season on the road with that 32-13 win over Northwestern Oklahoma as Hayden Mallory threw three touchdown passes. Look for the Muleriders to roll in Magnolia as Mallory continues to gain confidence.

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College football: Week 1

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

With only three of the college football programs in the state playing last fall, we didn’t bother with predictions.

The pandemic isn’t whipped yet, but all four NCAA Division I programs and all six NCAA Division II programs are back in action, starting this week. Thus the weekly predictions are back for all 10 of those teams.

There’s just not enough time unfortunately to properly educate ourselves on the NCAA Division III and NAIA ranks, so we won’t include those schools.

Most Arkansans will have their eyes on Fayetteville and the Razorback opener against Rice. The Owls, a conference opponent for decades in the Southwest Conference era, now reside in Conference USA and were 2-3 in last fall’s shortened season. Mike Bloomgren has a record of 7-23 in three seasons at the school.

Marques Tuiasosopo has instituted a version of the West Coast offense in his first year as offensive coordinator at Rice. Arkansas has superior talent and should pull away in the second half on a hot afternoon at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Arkansas State’s Saturday night game against UCA in Jonesboro could be interesting. UAPB also opens at home on Saturday night.

Five of the state’s six teams in the Great American Conference (where all 11 games are conference affairs) open Thursday night. Harding, meanwhile, opens at home on Saturday evening.

Let’s get to the picks:

Arkansas 42, Rice 20 — The Razorbacks were 3-7 last year, and that’s considered improvement in this dark era of Arkansas football. Coach Sam Pittman is feeling optimistic in his second year at the helm. He says: “I love the team. I think they’re hungry. We’re a chip-on-the-shoulder, tough, proud, team.” The players have indeed been engaged during preseason practices. But the sobering stat is that Arkansas has twice as many last-place finishes in the SEC West (six) as it does top three finishes during the past 14 years. Rice might hang around for a half, but the talent deficit will show in the second half as the heat takes its toll on the Owls.

Arkansas State 38, UCA 23 — The Butch Jones era begins in Jonesboro with more than 50 newcomers on the roster. Quarterback Logan Bonner followed former head coach Blake Anderson to Utah State, leaving Little Rock’s Layne Hatcher as the lone experienced quarterback in camp. Jones, a former SEC head man, is 84-54 in 11 years as a head coach at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee. He spent the past three seasons on the Alabama staff. Much like Rice in Fayetteville, expect the FCS Bears to hang around for at least a half before the Red Wolves’ superior depth allows them to pull away at the end.

UAPB 39, Lane 15 — In a shortened spring schedule, the Golden Lions won the SWAC West Division title. Doc Gamble appears to be the right man at the right time in Pine Bluff. The Golden Lions return 19 starters, including junior quarterback Skyler Perry, who passed for 1,236 yards and 13 touchdowns in the spring. He also rushed for 215 yards in just five games as the Golden Lions went 4-1. Tiny Lane shouldn’t provide much of a problem. The second game (at UCA on Sept. 18) will be the real measuring stick to see how far this UAPB program has come.

Ouachita 31, Oklahoma Baptist 19 — Division II schools haven’t played since 2019 so there are a lot of unknowns at all 12 (six in Arkansas and six in Oklahoma) GAC schools. Ouachita has won the past three GAC titles and enters the season with a 27-game conference winning streak, one of the longest at any level of college football. The Tigers will get a strong challenge at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia on Thursday night from Oklahoma Baptist, which appears to be the most talented of the six Oklahoma teams. Oklahoma Baptist quarterback Preston Haire was the 2019 GAC offensive player of the year. He completed 255 of 402 passes for more than 3,000 yards.

Henderson 27, Southwestern Oklahoma 17 — The Reddies were 9-2 in 2019, losing by a total of four points to Ouachita and Harding. Henderson was picked third in the GAC coaches’ preseason poll behind Ouachita and Harding. Southwestern Oklahoma was picked 10th. Henderson must make the long trip to Weatherford, Okla., on Thursday, but that shouldn’t matter due to the Reddies’ depth and talent. The Bulldogs return only seven starters.

UAM 25, Southern Nazarene 22 — The UAM program has struggled for years, but the Boll Weevils managed to go 5-6 in 2019, including a 4-1 record at home. And they’re at home on Thursday night. UAM was picked seventh in the preseason poll and Southern Nazarene was picked last out of 12 teams. Nazarene has a new coach in Dustin Hada, and little is known about the Crimson Storm. The Boll Weevils return quarterback Demilon Brown and running back Devontae Dean from 2019. Brown was the GAC freshman of the year after leading the Boll Weevils in passing and rushing.

Southern Arkansas 33, Northwestern Oklahoma 30 — The Muleriders have a new head coach in Mike McCarty. He has eight starters and 28 lettermen back from a team that was 8-4 in 2019. The returners include quarterback Hayden Mallory, who passed for almost 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. Northwestern was 4-7 in 2019. The Rangers have 14 returning starters. The GAC preseason poll had the Muleriders fifth and the Rangers ninth. Thursday night’s game is at Northwestern.

Arkansas Tech 26, Southeastern Oklahoma 16 — The Wonder Boys were eighth in the preseason poll while Southeastern was next-to-last at 11th. The Savage Storm went 1-10 in 2019. Sixteen starters return from that team. Tech boasts a number of Division I transfers, including Arkansas transfer Jack Lindsey at quarterback. Running back Caleb Batie returns from 2019. He led the team in rushing with 620 yards and five touchdowns. There are six returning starters on defense. The game is in Russellville on Thursday night.

Harding 44, East Central Oklahoma 21 — Harding was second in the preseason poll and East Central was sixth. Harding went 10-2 in 2019, advancing to the NCAA Division II playoffs for a fourth consecutive year. The Bisons’ flexbone offense led Division II in rushing two years ago with an average of 373.6 yards per game. Eight starters return off that offense, including quarterback Preston Paden and running backs Cole Chancey and Taylor Bissell. The Bisons should have no trouble scoring points against East Central in Searcy on Saturday night.




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College football: The final edition

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

This will be the final time we pick college football outcomes this season.

We went 5-1 last Saturday to improve our record to 76-22 for the season.

In a state obsessed by the Hog, there hasn’t been enough media attention devoted to the fact that this has been a very good season for most college programs in the state.

Arkansas State won its fourth consecutive game last Saturday, will likely beat South Alabama this week to finish the regular season 8-4 and will head to a bowl game for a ninth consecutive year.

UCA wrapped up a share of the Southland Conference title with a win over Incarnate Word last Friday night in San Antonio, finished the regular season 9-3 and is headed to the FCS playoffs.

UAPB had its first winning season since 2012. The 6-5 record in Cedric Thomas’ second year as head coach represented a marked improvement over last year’s 2-9 campaign.

Ouachita had an undefeated regular season for a second consecutive year, won its third consecutive Great American Conference title, made it to the NCAA Division II playoffs for a third consecutive year and finished 11-1.

Harding made it to the NCAA Division II playoffs for a fourth consecutive year and finished 10-2.

Henderson finished the regular season 9-2 and will play in a bowl game at Texarkana on Dec. 7.

Southern Arkansas finished the regular season 8-3 and will play in a bowl game in Corsicana, Texas, on Dec. 7.

Hendrix, the state’s only NCAA Division III program, finished 7-3.

Lyon, the state’s only NAIA program, also finished 7-3.

Here are the picks for this week’s games:

Missouri 29, Arkansas 27 — This is actually a winnable game for Arkansas as this worst of Razorback seasons comes to a merciful conclusion. Missouri is 5-6 overall and 2-5 in the Southeastern Conference with five consecutive losses. Those losses have been by scores of 21-14 to Vanderbilt (yes, Vanderbilt!), 29-7 to Kentucky, 27-0 to Georgia, 23-6 to Florida and 24-20 to Tennessee. Expect Arkansas’ players to compete hard for Barry Lunney Jr. And there will even be a decent crowd at War Memorial Stadium on Friday to show support for Lunney if it’s not raining hard. It’s time to get this season over with and focus on the coaching search.

Arkansas State 31, South Alabama 21 — It wasn’t easy, but the Red Wolves held on for a 38-33 victory over Georgia Southern last Saturday in Jonesboro. Things looked bad on that Thursday night in October when ASU fell to 3-4 following a 37-20 loss at home to Louisiana-Lafayette. But the Red Wolves have responded with wins over Texas State (38-14), Louisiana-Monroe (48-41), Coastal Carolina (28-27) and Georgia Southern. With former UCA head coach Steve Campbell at the helm, South Alabama has struggled to a 1-10 record. The lone victory was by a score of 37-14 over Jackson State from the SWAC way back on Sept. 7. The losses have been by scores of 35-21 to Nebraska, 42-6 to Memphis, 35-3 to Alabama-Birmingham, 30-17 to Louisiana-Monroe, 20-17 to Georgia Southern, 37-13 to Troy, 30-3 to Appalachian State, 30-28 to Texas State, 37-27 to Louisiana-Lafayette and 28-15 to Georgia State. Don’t expect many fans to be on hand for a Friday afternoon game in Mobile.

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College football: Week 13

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

The question as the University of Arkansas football team heads to Baton Rouge to take on the No. 1 team in the nation this week is this: Just how bad will it be?

The expectation of Arkansas fans in this first game of the post-Chad Morris era is that the team will play harder for Barry Lunney Jr. than it did for Morris. That’s really all they can hope for at this point.

My real hope is that people will show up at War Memorial Stadium on the day after Thanksgiving to support Lunney, an Arkansan through and through. On a day when many Americans take off work and watch college football, we don’t want a CBS national telecast to show thousands of empty seats. It’s time to show some Arkansas pride.

A large crowd for what I believe is a winnable game against Missouri would not only show support for the interim head coach but would also be a nice tribute to the legacy of his father, Barry Lunney Sr., who was a high school coaching legend. If the weather is decent, I believe there will be an additional 10,000 to 15,000 people at War Memorial Stadium who wouldn’t have attended had Morris still been the coach.

Lunney Sr. went 248-90-1 during 28 seasons as a high school head coach. He led Fort Smith Southside to state titles in 1991, 1992, 1997 and 2002 and then won state championships at Bentonville in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014. He retired from coaching following the 2014 season.

Lunney Jr. has fond memories of attending Razorback games with a grandfather who lettered at the school from 1946-49. Lunney Jr. lettered as a Razorback from 1992-95, starting 40 games at quarterback. He was a captain on the 1995 squad that played in the SEC championship game for the first time in school history.

Lunney Jr. also played baseball at Arkansas. He spent one season playing minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins’ organization. He then decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, coaching for two seasons as a graduate assistant at Arkansas and then going to Tulsa. That was followed by two seasons at San Jose State before a return home to serve as offensive coordinator for his father at Bentonville from 2005-13. He became a Razorback assistant coach in 2014.

Playing off the fact that the day of the game against Missouri is the traditional first day of the Christmas shopping season known as Black Friday, central Arkansas civic leaders have proclaimed it Red Friday. They say the tailgating scene will be better than ever with food trucks, games and live music. Complimentary shuttles will operate between the River Market District and the stadium. They’re also promoting events that evening in the River Market District, where those ages 21 and over can now carry alcoholic beverages on the street from 5 p.m. until midnight.

In an attempt to convince fans from across the state to spend a couple of nights in Little Rock, there’s also a coordinated effort to promote Christmas shopping on Saturday, dining options throughout the city that night and brunch on Sunday.

We were a perfect 5-0 on the picks last week, making the record 71-21 for the season.

Here are the picks for Week 13 of the college football season:

LSU 49, Arkansas 19 — Let’s be honest. The Tigers can pretty much name the score in this one. It’s probably a matter of how long LSU head coach Ed Orgeron chooses to play his starting quarterback, Joe Burrow. The Heisman Trophy favorite is averaging 368.7 passing yards per game for LSU (10-0, 6-0). In last Saturday’s 58-37 win at Ole Miss (4-7, 2-5), Burrow threw for 489 yards and five touchdowns.

Arkansas State 30, Georgia Southern 28 — The Red Wolves played a sloppy game for most of the afternoon last Saturday in Jonesboro and then came alive on a late drive led by redshirt freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher to beat Coastal Carolina by a point, 28-27. With a record of 6-4 overall (4-2 in Sun Belt Conference play), the Red Wolves are bowl eligible for a ninth consecutive season. Hatcher passed 21 yards to Kirk Merritt with 32 seconds left for the winning touchdown. Hatcher was 24 of 35 passing for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Expect another close game in Jonesboro this Saturday afternoon. Georgia Southern is 6-4 with wins of 26-18 over Maine, 20-17 in two overtimes over South Alabama, 30-27 in three overtimes over Coastal Carolina, 41-7 over New Mexico State, 24-21 over a ranked Appalachian State team and 51-29 over Louisiana-Monroe. The losses have been by scores of 55-3 to LSU, 35-32 to what has turned out to be a very good Minnesota team, 37-24 to Louisiana-Lafayette and 49-28 to Troy.

UCA 34, Incarnate Word 26 — The Bears remained in a tie for the Southland Conference lead with a 30-7 victory over Stephen F. Austin last Saturday afternoon in Conway. UCA is 8-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play. The Bears are tied with Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls State for the conference lead. In the win over Stephen F. Austin, UCA rushed for a season-high 263 yards. The Bears can earn at least a share of the conference crown with a win Friday night (that’s right, it’s a rare Friday night college game) in San Antonio against an Incarnate Word team that’s 5-6 overall and 4-4 in conference following four consecutive losses. The Incarnate Word victories have come by scores of 66-44 over Texas Southern, 31-24 over Abilene Christian, 38-36 over Houston Baptist, 27-21 over Southeastern Louisiana and 35-17 over Lamar. The losses have been by scores of 35-7 to Texas-San Antonio, 45-6 to Sam Houston State, 44-41 to Northwestern State of Louisiana, 27-23 to Nicholls State, 31-24 to Stephen F. Austin and 41-28 to New Mexico State.

UAPB 25, Texas Southern 10 — The Golden Lions have several things in their favor going into the final game of the season. They’re home, they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game and their opponent is 0-10. A victory in Pine Bluff on Saturday afternoon would give the Golden Lions a final record of 6-5, a vast improvement over last year’s 2-9 campaign. UAPB hasn’t had a winning season since 2012 when the school finished 10-2 and beat Jackson State in overtime in the SWAC championship game. The Golden Lions went 13-53 during the next six seasons. The Texas Southern losses have been by scores of 44-23 to Prairie View A&M, 63-44 to Incarnate Word, 77-6 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 68-31 to Houston Baptist, 35-28 to Alabama A&M, 23-20 to Missouri S&T, 28-21 to Southern University, 35-14 to Mississippi Valley State, 55-20 to Grambling and 27-21 to Alabama State.

Ouachita 31, Lindenwood 23 — It was a Battle of the Ravine for the ages. Henderson came in 9-1 and ranked No. 20 in the country in NCAA Division II. Ouachita came in 10-0 and ranked No. 5. Henderson jumped out to a 14-0 lead before an overflow crowd at Cliff Harris Stadium and was driving to make it 21-0 when Ouachita senior Keandre Evans from Junction City came up with an interception that turned the tide. Ouachita was trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter when Henderson recovered a fumble at the Ouachita 41. The Reddies covered that distance in eight plays to take a 21-17 lead with just 1:44 remaining in the game. Ouachita then drove 74 yards with the clock running out. The winning score came on a one-yard run by senior Brockton Brown from Sheridan with 33 seconds remaining and no time outs left. With the 24-21 victory, Ouachita won its third consecutive undisputed Great American Conference title. It’s the second consecutive undefeated regular season for Ouachita, which extended its conference winning streak to 27 games. The Tigers are back home at Cliff Harris Stadium on Saturday afternoon against a Lindenwood team from the St. Louis area that’s 8-3. The Lions started 1-3 before running off seven consecutive victories over McKendree, Truman State, Saginaw Valley State, Quincy, the University of Indianapolis, Missouri S&T and Southwest Baptist.

Northwest Missouri State 35, Harding 32 — The headline on the GAC preview story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Aug. 25 was “GAC opener might decide who stands tall in end.” That was the case as Ouachita beat Harding by a final score of 16-14 on Sept. 5 with a late field goal by a true freshman. Ouachita finished the regular season 11-0, and Harding finished 10-1. Harding won its 10th consecutive game last Saturday by a final score of 49-14 over 3-8 Arkansas Tech. The Bisons led 21-0 at halftime and finished with 406 yards rushing. That’s the sixth consecutive game in which the Bisons have rushed for more than 400 yards. Harding will hit the road to take on traditional powerhouse Northwest Missouri State, which has won six Division II national championships. It’s the school’s 16th consecutive playoff appearance and its 24th overall. Northwest Missouri beat Harding 35-0 in the playoffs in 2012 and 2016. Expect it to be a lot closer this time around. ┬áThis is a talented Harding team. Northwest Missouri is also 10-1 with its lone loss having come by a final score of 24-17 to Nebraska-Kearney. Nine of its 10 victories have been by double-digit margins.

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College football: Battle of the Ravine

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Tired of what’s going on in Fayetteville?

The perfect antidote to that long-running soap opera can be found in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon when one of the great traditions in American sports takes place.

The Battle of the Ravine should be on every Arkansan’s bucket list. It’s the only game in college football where the visitors walk to a road game. State troopers will halt traffic Saturday morning on U.S. Highway 67, and Henderson State University players will walk across to play at Ouachita Baptist University’s Cliff Harris Stadium.

The game will kick off at 1:05 p.m. At about 4 p.m., the troopers will stop traffic again, and the Reddies will walk back home.

It looks as if the weather will be perfect for college football with sunshine and temperatures in the high 50s.

Ouachita is 10-0 and ranked No. 5 nationally in NCAA Division II.

Henderson is 9-1 and ranked No. 20 in the country.

What’s always a big game is even bigger than usual. Sports Illustrated, in fact, already has a writer and photographer in Arkadelphia.

Those who have played in these games, coached in them, covered them as journalists or watched from the stands know that there are few things quite like this game between four-year schools that are within walking distance of each other.

After all these decades, the series is tied 43-43-6.

We were a mediocre 4-3 on the picks last week (having foolishly picked the Hogs against Western Kentucky) to make the record 66-21 for the season.

Let’s get to the picks for this 12th week of the college football season:

Ouachita 29, Henderson 23 — Ouachita has already secured a share of its third consecutive Great American Conference championship. The Tigers have won 26 consecutive GAC games, a streak that dates back more than two years. Henderson would like to end that streak and, in the process, earn a share of the conference title and a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs. With a loss, a 9-2 Reddie team is most likely headed to a minor bowl game with Ouachita and Harding being the only playoff representatives. Ouachita has won the past three games in this rivalry, but Henderson has found new weapons after having fallen to an overall record of 12-12 the previous two seasons. Ouachita will attempt to get its rushing attack going early and limit the number of Henderson possessions with long, time-consuming drives. This game will rest on Henderson’s ability to stop the Ouachita ground game.

Arkansas State 31, Coastal Carolina 22 — The 5-4 Red Wolves have had two weeks to prepare for this game and are at home in Jonesboro on Saturday afternoon. ASU has won two consecutive games, 38-14 over Texas State on Oct. 26 and 48-41 over Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 2. Coastal Carolina is 4-5 with an upset 12-7 victory over Kansas, a 46-7 win over Norfolk State, a 62-28 victory over Massachusetts and a 36-35 win over Troy. The losses have been by scores of 30-23 to Eastern Michigan, 56-37 to Appalachian State, 31-21 to Georgia State, 30-27 in three overtimes to Georgia Southern and 48-7 to Louisiana-Lafayette.

UCA 35, Stephen F. Austin 20 — The 7-3 Bears laid a huge egg in Conway last Saturday, falling 34-0 to Southeastern Louisiana. Quarterback Cole Kelley (remember him?) accounted for 312 yards and five touchdowns against a hapless Bear defense. It was the first time a Bear team had been shut out since 1995. No UCA team had been shut out in Conway since 1986. Still, though, the Bears are tied atop the Southland Conference standings with Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State and Sam Houston State. The good news is that a bad Stephen F. Austin team comes to Conway this Saturday afternoon. The Lumberjacks are 2-8 overall and 2-5 in conference play. The two wins were by scores of 24-17 over Lamar and 31-24 over Incarnate Word. The losses have been by scores of 56-16 to Baylor, 37-26 to Tarleton State (a Division II school), 45-38 to Southern Utah, 48-30 to Nicholls State, 31-20 to Sam Houston State, 31-24 to Abilene Christian, 33-10 to McNeese State and 47-30 to Southeastern Louisiana.

Harding 40, Arkansas Tech 25 — The Bisons lost their season opener 16-14 to Ouachita and have since run off nine consecutive victories. Still, they have to hope for a Henderson win over Ouachita to gain a share of the conference title. Since the conference was formed in 2011, Ouachita has won five titles, Henderson has won three and Harding has won one. The Bisons posted a 35-14 victory over 1-9 Southeastern Oklahoma last week as Harding rushed for 462 yards on 57 running plays. Tech fell to 3-7 with a 31-30 loss to 2-8 East Central Oklahoma. With a victory, Harding will ensure itself a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Southern Arkansas 39, UAM 24 — Both of these teams came to Arkadelphia and lost last Saturday. UAM fell 35-7 to Ouachita. Henderson scored in the final minute to beat Southern Arkansas by a score of 38-31. The Muleriders come in as the favorite with a 7-3 record, but the 5-5 Boll Weevils have been competitive in most games this season and are looking to secure their second consecutive winning season.


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College football: Week 11

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Arkansas’ opponent in Fayetteville this Saturday is Western Kentucky.

Is this the week that the Razorbacks finally get another victory?

If Arkansas loses, does that force the administration to fire Chad Morris before the weekend is over?

So many questions, so little interest.

The crowds keep getting smaller and smaller as Arkansans focus on other fall activities.

I’m far more focused, for example, on the other teams in the state. There’s a lot of good football being played out there. UCA is up to No. 6 in the FCS poll, and three of the state’s six Division II teams (Ouachita, Harding and Henderson) are nationally ranked.

A number of Arkansans actually went so far as to predict a Razorback victory last week over a struggling Mississippi State squad. Silly optimists.

I picked the Bulldogs, but even I didn’t believe it would be a 30-point margin. Each time you think the Arkansas program has hit rock bottom, the hole gets deeper.

At 2-7 overall and 0-6 in the Southeastern Conference, Arkansas has now lost 17 consecutive SEC games. Morris is 0-14 against SEC opponents. Morris-coached teams have lost by 30 or more points seven times since the start of the 2018 season.

Last Saturday, the Bulldogs had 640 yards of offense, including 460 rushing yards. Both were school records against SEC opponents.

Joe Moorhead is on the hot seat at Starkville. Too bad he can’t play Arkansas every week. He’s 2-0 against the Razorbacks, having won by a combined score of 106-30.

In the past three games, Arkansas has been outscored 153-41.

We were 6-2 on the picks last week, making the season record 62-18.

Here are the selections for Week 11 of the college football season:

Arkansas 41, Western Kentucky 39 — Yes, Western Kentucky lost to Central Arkansas by a final score of 35-28 in the season opener. But when you consider the depths to which the Arkansas program has fallen, you realize that this is indeed a game the Hogs could lose. Western Kentucky has a 5-4 record. The five wins have been by scores of 20-14 over Florida International, 20-13 over Alabama-Birmingham, 20-3 over Old Dominion, 17-8 over Army and 30-14 over Charlotte. In addition to the UCA loss, WKU has fallen 38-21 to Louisville, 26-23 to Marshall and 35-24 to Florida Atlantic.

UCA 30, Southeastern Louisiana 27 — The Bears remain alone atop the Southland Conference standings. They’re 7-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play following a 45-17 victory at Lamar (4-5, 2-4). UCA jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, led 31-10 at the half and never looked back. Breylin Smith was 30 of 37 passing for 434 yards and four touchdowns. Tyler Hudson had six receptions for 120 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears host a decent Southeastern Louisiana squad in Conway this Saturday afternoon. The Lions are 5-3 overall and 4-2 in conference play. They’ve won two consecutive games and will give the Bears all they can handle. The five victories have been by scores of 35-14 over Jacksonville State, 45-34 over Lamar, 44-27 over Northwestern State of Louisiana, 52-13 over Houston Baptist and 47-30 over Stephen F. Austin. The three losses have been by scores of 40-29 to Ole Miss, 38-34 to McNeese and 27-21 to Incarnate Word. As you can see, Southeastern is just two scores away from being undefeated in the conference.

Prairie View A&M 24, UAPB 21 — The Golden Lions lost their second consecutive game to fall to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in SWAC play. Jackson State won 21-12 in Jackson to improve to 4-5 and 3-1. The Golden Lions just never could get their offense going. They had only 69 yards of offense in the first half and 299 yards for the game. UAPB goes on the road this week for an afternoon game against a Prairie View A&M team that’s 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the SWAC. The wins have been by scores of 44-23 over Texas Southern, 42-36 over Grambling and 51-0 over Virginia-Lynchburg. The losses have been by scores of 37-17 to Houston, 42-35 to Nicholls State, 45-41 to Alcorn State, 34-28 to Southern University and 38-35 to Jackson State. In a game that easily could go either way, we’ll give a slight advantage to the home team.

Ouachita 31, UAM 19 — Ouachita remains the only undefeated college team in the state at 9-0. The Tigers, ranked No. 5 nationally in NCAA Division II, have won 25 consecutive Great American Conference games and can earn at least a share of their third consecutive GAC title with a victory Saturday in Arkadelphia. Ouachita jumped out to a 21-0 lead and wound up beating a talented Southern Arkansas squad by a final score of 38-21 in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado last Saturday afternoon. SAU is 7-2. Ouachita had 314 rushing yards on 49 carries. Senior Brockton Brown from Sheridan led the way with 149 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the GAC with 17 rushing touchdowns. UAM is 5-4, has talent and will give the Tigers a battle at Cliff Harris Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Henderson 32, Southern Arkansas 26 — The Reddies improved to 8-1 last Saturday with a 27-20 victory at UAM. It was the fifth win in a row for Henderson following a one-point loss to Harding. The Boll Weevils gave the Reddies all they wanted, outgaining Henderson 438-375. The Reddies are home in Arkadelphia this week, but they can’t afford to be looking ahead to the following week’s Battle of the Ravine against Ouachita. If they do, the Muleriders will make them pay.

Harding 59, Southeastern Oklahoma 18 — The Bisons have won eight consecutive games since a 16-14 loss to Ouachita in the season opener at Arkadelphia. Harding beat 1-8 East Central Oklahoma by a final score of 56-20 last Saturday. Harding had 558 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground with 341 of those yards coming in the first half. Expect a similar rout this week as the Bisons go on the road to play 1-8 Southeastern Oklahoma.

Arkansas Tech 25, East Central Oklahoma 22 — After starting the season 0-6, the Wonder Boys have won three consecutive games. Tech defeated Southeastern Oklahoma by a final score of 38-20 in Russellville last Saturday as junior quarterback Carter Burcham threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns. The Wonder Boys should have enough momentum now to take care of East Central Oklahoma on the road in Ada this Saturday afternoon.

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College football: Week 10

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

It’s a winnable game this week for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Will the Hogs actually win?

That’s a whole different deal.

Those Razorback fans who still bother to watch looked on in sadness last week as Alabama raced to a 41-0 halftime lead and then called off the dogs.

The 48-7 loss was the 16th consecutive Southeastern Conference defeat for Arkansas and the 13th consecutive loss by a Razorback team to Alabama. Alabama got 24 of its first-half points off turnovers.

Arkansas is now 4-21 all time against teams ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll, a perch from which the Tide fell despite the margin of victory over Arkansas. That’s what playing the Razorbacks will do to your strength of schedule these days.

As we’ve been saying all season, there’s still a lot of good college football being played in the state of Arkansas. Take away the Razorbacks and you’ll notice that the other 11 programs went 9-2 last week against out-of-state foes.

Of the 12 football programs, the only three losers were the three football-playing institutions that are part of the University of Arkansas System: The Hogs, the UAPB Golden Lions and the UAM Boll Weevils.

We went 7-3 on the picks last week, making the record 56-16 for the season.

Here are the picks for Week 10 of the college football season:

Mississippi State 34, Arkansas 31 — The Bulldogs are struggling almost as much as Arkansas. Mississippi State got off to a 3-1 start with victories of 38-28 over Louisiana-Lafayette, 38-15 over Southern Mississippi and 28-13 over Kentucky along with a 31-24 loss to Kansas State. Since that victory over Kentucky, the Bulldogs have lost four consecutive SEC games — 56-23 to Auburn, 20-10 to Tennessee, 36-13 to LSU and 49-30 to Texas A&M.

Arkansas State 39, Louisiana-Monroe 37 — It has been a struggle for Arkansas State this year, but the Red Wolves were able to even their record at 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference with a 38-14 victory in Jonesboro last Saturday night over Texas State. Redshirt freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher was 18 of 28 passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Omar Bayless had seven receptions for 77 yards and two touchdowns. ASU outscored Texas State 21-0 in the second half of that game. If Hatcher and Bayless can have a big game in Monroe on Saturday, the Red Wolves should be able to escape with a victory over a Warhawk team that’s 3-4 overall and 2-1 in conference play. The three Louisiana-Monroe victories have been by scores of 31-9 over Grambling, 30-17 over South Alabama and 24-14 over Texas State. The losses have been by scores of 45-44 to Florida State in overtime, 72-20 to Iowa State, 52-33 to Memphis and 52-7 to Appalachian State.

UCA 28, Lamar 25 — The Bears stand alone atop the Southland Conference standings. UCA improved to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play with a 39-25 victory over Sam Houston State last Saturday night in Conway. Sam Houston (now 5-4, 4-2) led 16-0 at halftime. UCA tied the score at 22-22 with 8:36 left in the game on a 28-yard pass from Breylin Smith to Carlos Blackman that was followed by a two-point conversion pass from Smith to Blackman. Sam Houston went back on top with a 43-yard field goal with 5:13 remaining. The Bears took the lead for good on a 15-yard pass from Smith to Tyler Hudson with 3:57 left to play. Sam Houston then fumbled at the UCA 18 with 21 seconds left. The Bears go to southeast Texas this week to face a Lamar squad that’s 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the Southland Conference. The four wins have been by scores of 65-16 over Bethel, 23-20 over Mississippi Valley State, 27-24 over Abilene Christian and 20-17 in three overtimes over Sam Houston. The losses have been by scores of 63-3 to Texas A&M, 45-34 to Southeastern Louisiana, 24-17 to Stephen F. Austin and 35-17 to Incarnate Word.

UAPB 24, Jackson State 21 — This is a much improved UAPB team over the one that went 2-9 a year ago in Cedric Thomas’ first year as head coach. UAPB, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2012, fell to 5-3 last Saturday when Grambling escaped Pine Bluff with a 39-33 victory. The Golden Lions had a chance to win it at the end when an interception was returned 19 yards to the Tiger 11 with 3:11 left in the game. But on fourth-and-five, UAPB threw an interception. The Golden Lions are on the road Saturday to take on a Jackson State team that’s 3-5 overall. The victories have been by scores of 49-44 over Tennessee State, 31-28 over Mississippi Valley State and 38-35 over Prairie View A&M. The losses have been by scores of 36-15 to Bethune-Cookman, 37-14 to South Alabama, 33-25 to Kentucky State, 44-21 to Grambling and 31-16 to Alabama State.

Ouachita 32, Southern Arkansas 27 — One of the biggest games of the year so far in NCAA Division II is set for this Saturday afternoon in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado. Ouachita is 8-0, ranked No. 5 in the country in Division II and has won the past two Great American Conference championships. The Tigers have won 24 consecutive conference games. Southern Arkansas is 7-1, having lost only to Harding. Both teams struggled a bit on the road last week in Oklahoma. Ouachita fell behind Southern Nazarene 13-0 on a cold, rainy Thursday night before scoring 27 unanswered points to win 27-13. On Saturday, SAU escaped with a 24-23 victory at 1-7 East Central Oklahoma. The Muleriders trailed 20-7 with 7:50 left in the third quarter and finally went ahead for good on a 35-yard field goal with 5:24 left in the game. Ouachita and SAU met two years ago in the Murphy USA Classic with Ouachita winning a game in which the lead changed hands four times in the final two minutes. This one could be similar to that.

Harding 51, East Central Oklahoma 20 — The Bisons lost their opener 16-14 to Ouachita and have since won seven consecutive games. Their three remaining opponents all have losing records. In other words, Harding won’t lose again until the NCAA Division II playoffs. Harding must hope that someone beats Ouachita at least once in order to gain a share of the GAC title. Since the GAC was formed in 2011, Ouachita has won four championships, Henderson has won three and Harding has won one. The Bisons won 47-13 last week at 2-6 Northwestern Oklahoma. Harding outrushed the Rangers 413-101. Cole Chancey had 206 rushing yards on 30 carries.

Henderson 35, UAM 26 — The Reddies improved to 7-1 with a 41-27 win at 1-7 Southeastern Oklahoma last Saturday. It was the ninth consecutive Reddie win over the Savage Storm. Henderson quarterback Richard Stammetti was 24 of 34 passing for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Henderson finishes the season with showdowns against Southern Arkansas and Ouachita but can’t afford to be looking ahead since this week’s opponent is a decent UAM team that’s 5-3. The Boll Weevils lost last week by a final score of 33-31 at Oklahoma Baptist, which is the best of the six Oklahoma teams in the GAC. Nationally ranked Henderson teams have been tripped up before in Monticello. It’s where the late Coach Ralph “Sporty” Carpenter uttered his famous quote: “Lightning struck the outhouse, and we were in it.”

Southeastern Oklahoma 18, Arkansas Tech 17 — Arkansas Tech lost its first two games of the season and has since won two consecutive contests. It’s another winnable game on Saturday against Southeastern Oklahoma. Tech won 36-35 last week at 2-6 Southwestern Oklahoma. The Wonder Boys had trailed 35-26 going into the fourth quarter of that contest.

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College football: Week 9

Monday, October 21st, 2019

We’re talking history at this point.

If the football program at the University of Arkansas ever returns to respectability, you’ll be able to tell the grandchildren: “I lived through the worst period in modern Razorback history.”

Here are some of the sobering numbers in the wake of Arkansas’ 51-10 loss to Auburn in Fayetteville last Saturday:

— Though there weren’t nearly that many people actually in their seats, the announced attendance Saturday was 54,619 in a stadium that holds almost 75,000 people. That’s the smallest Fayetteville crowd since 2003 and the smallest crowd to witness a Southeastern Conference game in Fayetteville since before the stadium was expanded in 2001. Let’s put it in perspective: Almost twice as many people attended the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock on Saturday as attended the Razorback game in Fayetteville. If there’s one factor more than any other that will force the Arkansas athletic director’s hand on a quick coaching change, it’s apathy. And apathy has firmly set in across Arkansas when it comes to Razorback football.

— Arkansas, which fell to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in SEC play, lost its 15th consecutive SEC game.

— Saturday’s 41-point margin was the largest so far during that losing streak.

— Chad Morris is now 0-12 against SEC opponents.

As we’ve stated before, there’s good college football being played in Arkansas this season. It’s just not in Fayetteville. The other Arkansas teams that played on Saturday went 7-1 against out-of-state foes.

We were 8-1 on our picks for the week, making the season record 49-13.

Here are the selections for this week’s games:

Alabama 49, Arkansas 19 — As you know by now, Tua Tagovailoa won’t be playing for Alabama on Saturday following an ankle injury in the Crimson Tide’s 35-13 win against Tennessee. Will it matter much? We doubt it. The No. 1 Tide is 7-0 with victories of 42-3 over Duke, 62-10 over New Mexico State, 47-23 over South Carolina, 49-7 over Southern Mississippi, 59-31 over Ole Miss, 47-28 over Texas A&M and 35-13 over Tennessee. The closest margin of victory has been 19 points. And Nick Saban will see to it that his team isn’t looking ahead to LSU.

Texas State 35, Arkansas State 33 — This is a winnable game for ASU, which fell to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in Sun Belt Conference play last Thursday night with a 37-20 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Red Wolves, though, have lost four starters to injury on defense in addition to losing their quarterback on offense. To put it simply, they can’t stop anyone. ASU’s best chance is for redshirt freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher to have a great night in a high-scoring shootout. Hatcher was 23 of 34 passing for 303 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Texas State is 2-4 overall. The wins have come by scores of 37-34 over Georgia State and 24-3 over Nicholls State. The losses have been by scores of 41-7 to Texas A&M, 23-14 to Wyoming, 47-17 to SMU and 24-14 to Louisiana-Monroe.

Sam Houston State 28, UCA 25 — The Bears moved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Southland Conference play after escaping Northwestern State in Louisiana with a 31-30 victory. The Demons remain winless at 0-7 overall and 0-4 in conference play. Northwestern scored with 1:30 left in the game and then went for two. A pass was knocked away on the two-point conversion attempt, and the Bears hit the road back to Conway. This week’s opponent is a Sam Houston State team that’s 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the Southland Conference. The three losses have been by scores of 39-31 to New Mexico, 27-23 to North Dakota and 20-17 to Lamar. The five victories have been by scores of 77-0 over Oklahoma Panhandle, 45-6 over Incarnate Word, 28-17 over McNeese, 31-20 over Stephen F. Austin and 17-0 over Nicholls.

Grambling 18, UAPB 15 — The Golden Lions are a surprising 5-2 and have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Grambling comes to Pine Bluff with a record of 2-4. The Tigers began the season 0-2 with losses of 31-9 to Louisiana-Monroe, 20-14 to Louisiana Tech, 23-20 to Alabama State and 42-36 to Prairie View A&M. They have, however, turned it around with two consecutive SWAC wins by scores of 44-21 over Jackson State and 23-10 over Alabama A&M.

Ouachita 34, Southern Nazarene 17 — Ouachita has a short week with a Thursday night game in Oklahoma. The Tigers are 7-0, they’re ranked No. 5 nationally in NCAA Division II and they have won 23 consecutive conference games. But Nazarene, which is 2-5, has a way of giving Ouachita teams a tough time. In fact, the home team led in the fourth quarter two years ago before Ouachita came from behind to win. Ouachita posted a 41-14 victory over Oklahoma Baptist on Saturday as three Tiger running backs scored two touchdowns each. Ouachita led 28-0 at the half of that game.

Henderson 40, Southeastern Oklahoma 22 — The 6-1 Reddies celebrated homecoming in style last Saturday with a 48-17 victory over East Central Oklahoma. Henderson quarterback Richard Stammetti was 18 of 27 passing for 265 yards and four touchdowns. Henderson heads to Durant this week to do battle with a Southeastern Oklahoma team that has struggled to a 1-6 record. Southeastern fell by 42 points to Southern Arkansas last Saturday. The Reddies just have to be sure they aren’t looking ahead to a final three-game stretch that will see them play UAM, Southern Arkansas and Ouachita.

Southern Arkansas 47, East Central Oklahoma 23 — The Muleriders improved to 6-1 with that 49-7 victory in Magnolia over Southeastern Oklahoma. SAU led 28-0 at the half of that game. With his 63rd victory at the school, Bill Keopple became the all-time winningest coach in SAU history. The Muleriders held the Savage Storm to a negative three yards rushing and shouldn’t have any problem in Ada this Saturday afternoon against East Central Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Baptist 30, UAM 27 — Oklahoma Baptist is the best of the six Oklahoma teams in the GAC and has one of the conference’s top quarterbacks. That could spell trouble for the 5-2 Boll Weevils, who posted a 31-28 victory over Southern Nazarene last Saturday in Monticello. Southern Nazarene led 20-7 at the half of that game. Oklahoma Baptist is 3-4 but could easily be 5-2 following close losses to Henderson and Southern Arkansas. The Bison even scored 33 points on the vaunted Harding defense.

Harding 44, Northwestern Oklahoma 20 — The Bisons have won six consecutive games since losing the season opener to Ouachita. Last Saturday saw a 45-14 win over Southwestern Oklahoma. The Bisons had 504 rushing yards on 68 carries and led 31-0 at halftime. It’s a long trip to Alva, but don’t expect 2-5 Northwestern Oklahoma to present much of a challenge. The Bisons don’t play another team with a winning record this year.

Southwestern Oklahoma 26, Arkansas Tech 16 — Tech finally got its first win of the season last Saturday in Russellville. The final score was 21-14 over Northwestern Oklahoma in a game that was tied 7-7 after three quarters of play. The Wonder Boys had a 55-yard fumble recovery to take the lead. Southwestern is 2-5 but usually plays well (the Bulldogs led Ouachita in the fourth quarter before losing) at home in Weatherford.

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College football: Week 8

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

I’m just not sure what else there is to say about Arkansas’ 24-20 loss to Kentucky in Lexington last Saturday night.

A Kentucky player moved from receiver to quarterback and then ran for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He threw for another score.

How do you explain that? You don’t.

Kentucky finished the game with 330 rushing yards on 54 carries and outgained the Hogs 418-305 overall to move to 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the Southeastern Conference.

Arkansas, which must accept its fate as the SEC’s worst football program in recent years, falls to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in SEC play. The Razorbacks have now lost 14 consecutive SEC games.

There is, mind you, a lot of good college football being played in the state. You just have to look to places other than Fayetteville.

In fact, Arkansas teams other than the Razorbacks were 9-2 against out-of-state competition last Saturday.

Arkansas State opens this week’s action with a Thursday night game in Jonesboro against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Auburn visits Fayetteville for an 11 a.m. game against the Razorbacks on Saturday.

All six of the state’s Great American Conference schools are home against the six GAC teams from Oklahoma.

And Hendrix, the state’s only NCAA Division III program, is home against Centre.

So college football fans have games in Jonesboro, Fayetteville, Arkadelphia (two games there), Searcy, Magnolia, Russellville, Monticello and Conway to choose from.

There’s really no excuse not to get out and see a college football game this week.

We were 7-2 on the picks last week (we likely won’t make the mistake of picking either Arkansas or Arkansas Tech again) to make the record 41-12 so far in 2019.

Here are the picks for this week’s games:

Louisiana-Lafayette 47, Arkansas State 42 — The Red Wolves are home this week. Here’s the problem: A series of injuries has resulted in an ASU defense that can stop no one. In their last game on Oct. 5, the Red Wolf defense gave up 722 yards in a 52-38 loss to Georgia State in Atlanta. ASU ranks ninth in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense. The Red Wolves give up an average of 38.7 points per game. ASU is last in the 10-team conference in total defense, giving up 535.8 yards per game. ASU now finds itself 3-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play. Louisiana-Lafayette comes to town with records of 4-2 overall and 1-1 in Sun Belt play. The losses have been by scores of 38-28 to Mississippi State and 17-7 to Appalachian State (which is the best team in the Sun Belt at 5-0, 2-0). The wins have been by scores of 35-14 over Liberty, 77-6 over Texas Southern, 45-25 over Ohio and 37-24 over Georgia Southern.

Auburn 41, Arkansas 24 — The Tigers won their first five games before losing 24-13 to Florida on Oct. 5. Auburn has had two weeks to get ready for this contest, and Gus Malzahn will be trying to put as many points as possible on the scoreboard to get his team back on the national radar. Those five victories came by scores of 27-21 over Oregon, 24-6 over Tulane, 55-16 over Kent State, 28-20 over Texas A&M and 56-23 over Mississippi State. Look for Arkansas’ SEC losing streak to go to 15 games.

UCA 31, Northwestern State 20 — The Bears improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in Southland Conference play last Saturday with a 40-31 victory over McNeese State (3-4, 1-3) in Conway. Bear quarterback Breylin Smith was 28 of 41 passing for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Tyler Hudson had four catches for 113 yards. UCA must go on the road this week to Louisiana, but don’t expect too much of a problem against an 0-6 Northwestern State team. The Demon losses have been by scores of 42-20 to Tennessee-Martin, 33-7 to Midwestern State, 65-14 to LSU, 48-21 to Houston Baptist, 44-27 to Southeastern Louisiana and 45-35 to Nicholls.

Ouachita 32, Oklahoma Baptist 30 — Ouachita is ranked No. 5 nationally in NCAA Division II. The 6-0 Tigers won their 22nd consecutive GAC game at Ada, Okla., last Saturday. In the 31-3 victory over East Central Oklahoma, Ouachita outgained its opponent 407-173. Senior Brockton Brown out of Sheridan scored three touchdowns on the ground. Ouachita will have all it can handle this week against a 3-3 Oklahoma Baptist team that might have the best quarterback in the conference. Oklahoma Baptist lost 50-33 last Saturday to Harding, but to score 33 points against the vaunted Harding defense makes quite a statement.

Henderson 49, East Central Oklahoma 14 — The Reddies are rolling. Henderson has only lost by a point to Harding. Last Saturday, the 5-1 Reddies posted a 35-7 win at Southwestern Oklahoma. Henderson quarterback Richard Stammetti was 14 of 29 passing for 151 yards. After a couple of mediocre seasons, Reddie head coach Scott Maxfield has this program back to where it used to be. Don’t forget that Henderson has won three of the eight titles in the history of the GAC (Ouachita has won four, and Harding won the other one). A 1-5 East Central Oklahoma team shouldn’t present much of a challenge in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon.

Southern Arkansas 26, Southeastern Oklahoma 10 — The Muleriders also moved to 5-1 last Saturday with a 40-7 victory at Northwestern Oklahoma. Redshirt freshman Kordavion Washington had 123 yards rushing. SAU finished with 333 yards on the ground. Expect SAU (which still has showdowns against Ouachita on Nov. 2 and Henderson on Nov. 9) to keep it rolling against 1-5 Southeastern Oklahoma this week.

Harding 35, Southwestern Oklahoma 18 — The Bisons also improved to 5-1 with that 50-33 victory at Oklahoma Baptist. Harding rushed for 492 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Cole Chancey carried 19 times for 233 yards. Look for Chancey to have another big game in Searcy on Saturday afternoon against 2-4 Southwestern Oklahoma.

UAM 27, Southern Nazarene 25 — The resurgent Boll Weevils are 4-2 after a 9-7 victory at Southeastern Oklahoma. UAM won on a safety when the Southeastern quarterback was sacked in the end zone. The Boll Weevils won despite having only 202 yards of offense. Of that total, 159 yards came on the ground. The defense helped out, though, with four fumble recoveries. This week’s opponent is a 2-4 Southern Nazarene team that has enough talent to hang with the Weevils. I expect a close game.

Northwestern Oklahoma 17, Arkansas Tech 15 — We’re beginning to wonder if the 0-6 Wonder Boys will get a victory this year. They have a chance this week with a 2-4 Northwestern Oklahoma team coming to Russellville. Tech lost 41-24 last Saturday at Southern Nazarene. The Wonder Boys found themselves down 28-0 midway through the second quarter in that one.


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