Archive for the ‘College football’ Category

College football: Week 1

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

Another college football season begins in earnest this week.

Normally, a kickoff time of 3 p.m. on an August afternoon in Fayetteville would be brutal. But it looks as if the weather is going to give University of Arkansas fans a break with temperatures and humidity levels falling late in the week.

The attitude of Razorback fans coming into the 2019 season can best be described with this word: Cautious.

Not “cautious optimism,” mind you. I sense going into this season that fans are being careful not to get too high or too low following that 2-10 debacle in the first year of the Chad Morris regime. They’re pragmatic for a change, telling themselves: “This is a team that plays in the SEC West, and there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Mark this down, however: The Razorbacks need to get to at least five or six victories this year or there will be serious questions being asked about Morris’ ability to get it done.

The Razorback fan base has been beat down. Consider that:

— Arkansas has had just one winning season since Bobby Petrino left following the 2011 season.

— The Razorbacks have the worst SEC record of any of the 14 conference teams since then — 13-43. The next worst in the SEC West is Ole Miss at 23-33. The next worst in the conference as a whole are Tennessee and Kentucky at 17-39.

The facts speak for themselves. With an overall record of 35-52 the past seven years and home losses to teams such as Louisiana-Monroe and Toledo, it’s evident that Arkansas has the worst football program in the SEC.

That doesn’t mean Arkansas — with its facilities and tradition — will stay there. The road back to respectability can begin Saturday against Portland State.

Let’s get to the picks:

Arkansas 49, Portland State 20 — Even given the current state of the program, this should be a relatively easy Hog victory over an FCS squad. Portland State was 4-7 overall and 3-5 in Big Sky Conference play a year ago. The Vikings were 0-11 the previous season. We now know that Ben Hicks will start at quarterback for the Razorbacks, though you can expect Nick Starkel to get plenty of work. The goals in this game are to iron out the first-game kinks, build a big enough lead early to allow lots of substitutions and avoid major injuries in advance of the Sept. 7 Ole Miss game in Oxford. The Rebels will have their hands full Saturday against a good Memphis team. That contest will be telecast at 11 a.m. on ABC.

Arkansas State 31, SMU 30 — It promises to be an emotional night in Jonesboro as the Red Wolves play for the first time since the death of Wendy Anderson, the wife of head coach Blake Anderson. ASU was 8-5 overall and 5-3 in Sun Belt Conference play last year, which didn’t meet the high expectations of Red Wolf fans these days. ASU won back-to-back Sun Belt championships in 2015-16. Anderson, who now has a 39-25 record at the school, cleaned house on his coaching staff following last season. With 13 returning starters, the Red Wolves should be better. SMU brings in a team that was 5-7 last year but had a quality win over Houston.

Western Kentucky 29, UCA 27 — The FCS Bears open the season on the road against against an FBS team, but it’s a winnable game on Thursday night. Western Kentucky was just 3-9 in 2019 and finished the season 2-6 in Conference USA play. In their first year under Nathan Brown, the Bears struggled to a 6-5 record. The previous two seasons under head coach Steve Campbell (now at South Alabama) had seen UCA post back-to-back 10-win seasons. Two of UCA’s losses in 2018 were by a combined five points. Brown, who is just 33, has eight starters back on offense. UCA is picked to finish second in the Southland Conference.

TCU 59, UAPB 12 — The Golden Lions go to Fort Worth to collect a check in a game that’s sure to get ugly early. TCU was 7-6 last year, which was not up to the high standards of recent seasons. The Horned Frogs won their final three games, beating Baylor and Oklahoma State in Big 12 play and then defeating California in overtime in bowl play. UAPB was 2-9 in its first season under head coach Cedric Thomas. UAPB had a combined record of 21-46 the six seasons prior to that. The school hasn’t had a winning season since 2012.

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College football: Week 13

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

And so it ends — the worst University of Arkansas football season in my lifetime.

My memories only go back to when Frank Broyles was the head coach and Arkansas was one of the three winningest programs in the country (along with Texas and Alabama) for the decade of the 1960s. Those older than me will have to tell you whether it was worse than it is now back when Otis Douglas was coach (he went 9-21 from 1950-52).

Arkansas football has received national publicity this fall for all the wrong reasons — players running over each other in the backfield, falling for trick plays and even taking photos with an opposing team’s cheerleaders before games.

It has been beyond embarrassing for those who support the program. That said, we must give Chad Morris and his staff time to try to recruit themselves out of the mess left behind by Bret Bielema and his enabler, Jeff Long. The hole was far deeper than any of us realized.

The lack of effort, teamwork and will was never more on display than was the case last Saturday at Starkville as Arkansas fell by a final score of 52-6 to a mediocre Mississippi State team. Nick Fitzgerald led six consecutive touchdown drives against a Hog defense that didn’t seem to want to be on the field. Coming into the game, Fitzgerald had only thrown two touchdown passes in SEC play this season. He threw four against Arkansas.

Mississippi State outgained the Razorbacks 287-69 on the ground, 188-150 through the air and 475-219 overall.

Arkansas failed to score touchdowns against Auburn and Mississippi State this season. The last time an Arkansas team failed to score touchdowns in two or more games was 2001.

Mississippi State used to be the whipping boy of the SEC. Want to know how far the Arkansas program has fallen? Just consider this fact: Mississippi State has won six of the past seven games against Arkansas.

No wonder Chad Morris used the word “unacceptable” nine times in a five-minute period after the game.

This is indeed unacceptable.

At least we have Arkansas State, which is headed to a bowl game for an eighth consecutive year.

And we have Ouachita, which is among the top four NCAA Division II teams in the country according to the various polls.

The only college football game in the state this week will be in Arkadelphia as Ouachita hosts the University of Indianapolis on Saturday in the second round of the Division II playoffs. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Cliff Harris Stadium for the contest between the 11-0 Tigers and 10-1 UIndy.

Plan a road trip to Arkadelphia to see this game. It should be fun to watch.

We’re 72-24 for the season as we make picks for the final time in 2018.

Missouri 42, Arkansas 20 — Missouri improved its record to 7-4 overall and 3-4 in SEC play with a 50-17 win over Tennessee (5-6, 2-5) in Knoxville last Saturday. It was the second consecutive season for the game to end with that score. It had to be particularly sweet for Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, who was 15-21 as the Tennessee head coach from 2010-12. Don’t expect many people to be in attendance in Columbia on what looks to be a cold, rainy Friday afternoon. And don’t expect many folks to be watching on CBS. Arkansas went 3-9 in 2013, which was Bielema’s first year as head coach. If the Hogs lose Friday, it will be the first 10-loss season in school history. The last time an Arkansas team had only two wins in a season was in 1952 under the aforementioned Otis Douglas.

Arkansas State 45, Texas State 27 — If ASU can beat Texas State in San Marcos on Saturday afternoon (which I think will happen) and Louisiana-Monroe can beat Louisiana-Lafayette (that might not happen), the Red Wolves will have a spot in the first Sun Belt Conference championship game. ASU improved to 7-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play with a 31-17 victory in Jonesboro last Saturday afternoon over Louisiana-Monroe (6-5, 4-3). Justice Hansen completed his first seven passes of the game and finished 21 of 27 passing for 246 yards and three touchdowns. Texas State is 3-8 with victories of 36-20 over Texas Southern, 27-20 over New Mexico State and 40-31 over Georgia State. The losses have been by scores of 35-7 to Rutgers, 41-31 to South Alabama, 25-21 to Texas-San Antonio, 42-27 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 15-13 to Georgia Southern, 20-14 to Louisiana-Monroe, 38-7 to Appalachian State and 12-7 to Troy. The school has already fired its head coach.

Ouachita 28, Indianapolis 25 — It has been an amazing run for Ouachita. When the Tigers defeated Henderson 38-10 in the Battle of the Ravine on Nov. 10, it marked the 16th consecutive conference victory for Ouachita. Tiger teams are 44-10 in Great American Conference play since the start of the 2014 season and have won four of the first eight GAC crowns. The one thing Ouachita hasn’t done is win a playoff game, having lost close contests in 2014 and 2017. Nothing will come easily this Saturday for the 11-0 Tigers against a Greyhound team that’s 10-1 following a 38-27 victory over Fort Hays State in the opening round of the Division II playoffs. Ouachita received a bye in the first round as the top-rated team in the region.

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College football: Week 12

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Another week, another Razorback loss in this lost season of 2018.

The Hogs made it interesting at the end in a 24-17 loss to LSU, but the offensive performance was beyond ugly in the first three quarters. Arkansas had just 91 yards of offense through three quarters and finished with 216 yards. The 16 yards rushing were the fewest for an Arkansas team since the Hogs gained only 11 yards in a 52-10 loss to Texas in 2008.

It marked the third consecutive win in the series for LSU (8-2, 5-2), which now leads the overall series 40-22-2. Arkansas (2-8, 0-6) is still the only Southeastern Conference team without a victory in SEC play and finishes the season 2-4 in games played at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas is on the road for its final two games.

On a brighter note for college football in the state, two Arkansas teams (Ouachita and Harding) made the NCAA Division II playoffs. Ouachita (11-0) earned a bye as the top seed in its region. The Tigers will play at 1 p.m. on the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia. Harding (9-2) makes the long trip to Big Rapids, Mich., for a second consecutive year to take on Ferris State this Saturday.

We were 6-1 on the picks last week, making the record 70-21 for the season.

Here are the picks for this Saturday’s games:

Mississippi State 27, Arkansas 20 — It’s yet another 11 a.m. kickoff for the Razorbacks. We expect them to hang around in this one with a chance to win at the end. Mississippi State comes into the contest with a 6-4 overall mark and a 2-4 conference record. The Bulldogs are 5-1 in games played at Starkville. The six victories have come by scores of 63-6 over Stephen F. Austin, 31-10 over Kansas State, 56-10 over Louisiana-Lafayette, 23-9 over Auburn, 28-13 over Texas A&M and 45-3 over Louisiana Tech. The losses have come by scores of 28-7 to Kentucky, 13-6 to Florida, 19-3 to LSU and 24-0 to Alabama. We’ll see if the Arkansas defense has an answer for Nick Fitzgerald, the 6-5, 230-pound Bulldog senior quarterback who owns 12 school records.

Ferris State 28, Harding 26 — Harding went to Ferris last year in the playoffs and upset the Bulldogs 16-14 when Tristan Parsley hit a field goal as time expired. That Harding team finished the regular season 8-3 and then got hot in the playoffs, winning three games before falling in the semifinals. Ferris is 11-0 this season. Because the two teams met last year, the Bulldogs now know what to expect from Harding’s twin-slot option offense. Harding leads NCAA Division II in rushing (averaging 348.7 yards per game) and in time of possession (36:08). Harding finished the regular season last Saturday with a 28-0 win over Arkansas Tech. The Bisons held the Wonder Boys to just 156 yards of offense. It was the fifth consecutive victory for Harding since a 7-3 loss to Ouachita. We’ll give a slight edge to the home team on what promises to be a cold afternoon in Big Rapids.

Louisiana-Monroe 35, Arkansas State 33 — Both teams have 6-4 records going into Saturday afternoon’s game at Jonesboro. UL-M is 4-2 in Sun Belt Conference play, and ASU is 3-3 in the conference. The Red Wolves struggled early in conference games but looked much better last week in a 44-16 win at Coastal Carolina. Louisiana-Monroe’s six wins have been by scores of 34-31 over Southeastern Louisiana, 21-20 over Southern Mississippi, 45-20 over Coastal Carolina, 20-14 over Texas State, 44-25 over Georgia Southern and 38-10 over South Alabama. The Warhawks’ four losses have come by scores of 48-10 to Texas A&M, 35-27 to Troy, 46-14 to Georgia State and 70-21 to Ole Miss. The win at Coastal Carolina made ASU bowl eligible for an eighth consecutive season. Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen was 18 of 20 passing for 253 yards and four touchdowns. The Red Wolves led 27-6 at the half and didn’t punt until late in the third quarter.

Abilene Christian 29, UCA 25 — Abilene Christian has won four consecutive games coming into Saturday afternoon’s contest against UCA in Abilene. UCA has had a disappointing season by its standards. The Bears fell to 5-5 overall and 4-4 in conference play with a 40-27 loss in Conway last Saturday to Incarnate Word. Abilene Christian’s six victories have been by scores of 41-24 over Angelo State, 38-13 over Houston Baptist, 28-12 over Nicholls State, 48-27 over Southeastern Louisiana, 49-47 over Northwestern State of Louisiana and 17-10 over Sam Houston State. The losses have been by scores of 55-27 to Baylor, 24-21 to Stephen F. Austin, 44-34 to Incarnate Word and 24-21 to McNeese State.

Texas Southern 19, UAPB 17 — A long season for the Golden Lions will come to an end in Houston on Saturday night. UAPB is 1-9 overall and 0-6 in SWAC play in its first year under head coach Cedric Thomas. The Golden Lions certainly have a chance against a Texas Southern team (2-7, 1-5) whose only victories have been by scores of 26-16 over Texas-Permian Basin and 42-14 over Mississippi Valley State. UAPB lost 56-24 last Saturday at Southern University. Southern was led by former Pine Bluff High School quarterback Ladarius Skelton, who passed for 283 yards and four touchdowns against the Golden Lions.

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College football: Week 11

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

So what’s the state of mind of the LSU football team following that 29-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama last Saturday night in Baton Rouge?

And does it really matter as the Tigers head to Fayetteville for what promises to be a cold night game (and one that probably will be played before a sparse crowd) at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium?

The Tigers had no answer for Tua Tagovailoa last Saturday as he threw two touchdown passes and ran 44 yards for another score.

“We really wanted to make a statement in this game,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “What better opportunity is there to make a statement than the circumstance we were in.”

Arkansas has had two weeks to prepare for the game against LSU. But again, does it really matter? The talent difference between the two squads is so great that I think the answer is “no.”

The better fan experience Saturday likely will be in Arkadelphia for the Battle of the Ravine, which is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. at Henderson’s Carpenter-Haygood Stadium. Ouachita is 10-0, ranked fourth in the country in NCAA Division II and has already secured its second consecutive Great American Conference championship (and its fourth title in the eight years the conference has existed). Henderson would like nothing better, of course, than to keep this from being the first Ouachita team to go 11-0 in the regular season (the undefeated 2014 team only played 10 regular-season games).

We were 4-3 on the picks last week to make the season record 64-20.

Here are the selections going into Saturday’s games:

LSU 34, Arkansas 20 — If LSU is indeed experiencing an Alabama hangover, the Hogs might hang around for three quarters or so. Last week, LSU’s defense allowed Tagovailoa to go 25 of 42 through the air for 295 yards. LSU enters the game with records of 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas is the only SEC team without a conference victory as the Razorbacks find themselves 2-7 overall and 0-5 in conference play. Expect Tiger quarterback Joe Burrow to have a much better game than a week ago when he was sacked five times and had a late pass intercepted in the end zone. Alabama held the Tiger running game to just 12 yards. The Crimson Tide finished with a 576-196 advantage in total yards while beating LSU for the eighth consecutive time.

Ouachita 31, Henderson 21 — The Battle of the Ravine is the best small college football rivalry in the country, and it’s right here in Arkansas. It’s the small college version of Alabama against Auburn — a game that divides families and is talked about 12 months a year. The two schools first played each other in football in 1895, and the series is almost even after all these decades. Henderson leads 43-42-6. The game has been decided by a touchdown or less in 42 of those 91 contests. The series was suspended from 1951-62 due to excessive vandalism. Attending a Battle of the Ravine should be on every Arkansan’s bucket list. Henderson is having a down season. The Reddies come in at 5-5 following a 24-17 loss to UAM in Arkadelphia a week ago, but this is the Reddies’ bowl game. Expect Henderson to play far better than it did a week ago.

Arkansas State 35, Coastal Carolina 32 — Arkansas State makes the long trip to Conway, S.C., to take on a Coastal Carolina team that’s 5-4 overall and 2-3 in Sun Belt Conference play. Coastal Carolina’s victories have come by scores of 47-24 over Alabama-Birmingham, 58-21 over Campbell, 30-28 over Louisiana-Lafayette, 24-13 over Massachusetts and 37-34 over Georgia State. The losses have been by scores of 49-15 to South Carolina, 45-21 to Troy, 45-20 to Louisiana-Monroe and 23-7 to Appalachian State. ASU moved to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in Sun Belt play last Saturday with a 38-14 victory over South Alabama at Jonesboro. Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen was 26 of 37 passing for 332 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in that game. He’s now fifth on the all-time Sun Belt list with 74 touchdown passes.

Incarnate Word 27, UCA 26 — The Bears fell to 5-4 overall and 4-3 in the Southland Conference with a disappointing 38-24 loss to Lamar last Saturday night in Conway. Lamar rolled to a 35-16 halftime lead and never looked back. Luke Hales, UCA’s redshirt freshman quarterback, was 18 of 45 passing for 257 yards and one touchdown. McNeese State, Nicholls State and Incarnate Word are tied for the Southland Conference lead at 5-2. Incarnate Word comes to Conway for Saturday afternoon’s game with a 5-4 record overall. The wins have been by scores of 31-7 over Stephen F. Austin, 44-34 over Abilene Christian, 52-34 over Southeastern Louisiana, 45-17 over McNeese State and 43-26 over Sam Houston State. The losses have been by scores of 62-30 to New Mexico, 58-16 to North Texas, 27-21 to Lamar and 48-21 to Nicholls State.

Southern University 45, UAPB 29 — A long season for the Golden Lions got even longer before a big homecoming crowd in Pine Bluff last Saturday afternoon as UAPB fell 45-14 to Alabama A&M. The game wasn’t in doubt after the visitors took a 14-0 halftime lead. UAPB (1-8, 0-5) finished with 378 yards of offense. Taeyler Porter, who had come in averaging 130 yards rushing per game for the Golden Lions, was held to 40 yards on 15 carries. Southern University, this Saturday afternoon’s opponent in Baton Rouge, is 5-3 overall and leads the west division of the SWAC with a 4-1 conference record. The Southern victories have come by scores of 33-18 over Langston, 29-27 over Alabama A&M, 38-0 over Prairie View A&M, 21-7 over Texas Southern and 41-7 over Jackson State. The losses have been by scores of 55-7 to TCU, 54-17 to Louisiana Tech and 20-3 to Alcorn State.

Southern Arkansas 33, UAM 30 — Southern Arkansas came to Arkadelphia last week with a chance to gain a share of the GAC lead with a win over Ouachita. The Muleriders, however, fell to 8-2 as the Tigers thrashed the visitors by a final score of 35-10. SAU can still earn a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs with a victory in Monticello against a UAM team that has won four of its past fives games (losing only to Ouachita during that stretch). In the Boll Weevils’ win at Henderson last Saturday, UAM senior quarterback Cole Sears was 12 of 23 passing for 185 yards and a touchdown. Devonte Dean rushed for 75 yards on 22 carries. I expect the Weevils to give SAU all it can handle.

Harding 49, Arkansas Tech 25 — Harding is 8-2 and has an outside shot at a playoff berth. The Bisons host a 3-7 Arkansas Tech team that has played below expectations all season. Harding won 24-10 against Southeastern Oklahoma last Saturday as Cole Chancey rushed for 99 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. The Bisons rushed for 258 yards and only passed for 21 yards on three passes. Tech fell 28-26 at home to East Central Oklahoma after having led 21-7 at the half. The season can’t finish fast enough for Wonder Boy fans. Harding, meanwhile, will have at least one more game. The Bisons will play in a bowl game if they don’t make the playoffs.

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College football: Week 10

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

At least we know the Razorbacks won’t lose this weekend.

The open date comes at a good time. Last week’s 45-31 loss to Vanderbilt dropped the Arkansas program to perhaps its lowest point in my lifetime. The Razorbacks went 3-9 in 2013 in Bret Bielema’s first season. Arkansas now finds itself 2-7 with games left against LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri. If the Hogs lose all of those games, it will be the first 10-loss season in school history.

Only 41,800 people showed up on a beautiful fall day to watch the Vanderbilt debacle. With Arkansas missing senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw most of the game due to an ankle injury, Vanderbilt’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn was able to rush for 172 yards and three touchdowns. The Commodores had no turnovers and turned two interceptions into 14 points.

Arkansas still leads the overall series against Vanderbilt (7-3) but trails 2-1 in games played at Fayetteville. Vanderbilt won there by a score of 28-24 in 2005 and lost by a score of 49-14 in 2010.

About the only bright spot for Arkansas last Saturday was Connor Limpert’s 55-yard field goal, the longest by a Razorback kicker since Kendall Trainor was kicking back in 1988.

On the same day that Arkansas lost to Vanderbilt, the state’s other three NCAA Division I programs (Arkansas State, Central Arkansas and UAPB) also lost.

There’s quality college football being played in Arkansas this season, but most of it is at the NCAA Division II level. The state has three of the Top 25 teams in Division 11 — Ouachita (9-0) is No. 4, Southern Arkansas (8-1) is No. 20 and Harding (7-2) is No. 24.

One of the biggest games of the year in Division II will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia when Ouachita hosts SAU. The past three games in this series have been decided by a combined 10 points. Ouachita won 45-42 last year at El Dorado on a touchdown pass with 33 seconds remaining. Ouachita won 40-37 in 2016 in four overtimes at Cliff Harris Stadium. In 2015, SAU won 32-28 at El Dorado.

This game should be along those same lines. With the Razorbacks open and the weather forecast calling for sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, a lot of people may get their first taste of Great American Conference football this Saturday. Prices are low and the traffic isn’t bad. I would highly recommend the road trip to Arkadelphia.

The record was 6-2 on the picks last week (I foolishly picked Arkansas, and no one can figure out this Arkansas Tech team), making the record 60-17 for the season.

Here are the picks for this Saturday’s games:

Arkansas State 31, South Alabama 26 — The amount of grumbling on social media from Red Wolf fans surprises me. It’s a sign that they’ve become spoiled in recent years. While the quality of the stadium keeps improving in Jonesboro, the quality of the football being played in that stadium has gone down this year. The Red Wolves fell to 4-4 overall and just 1-3 in Sun Belt Conference play with a 47-43 loss at Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday. ASU trailed by 10 points at the half but took a 43-40 lead with 5:48 remaining. The home team then drove 55 yards in 11 plays and scored on a two-yard run with 1:18 to go. The talk of “Hugh Freeze back to Jonesboro” (yes, it’s out there) will really heat up if the Red Wolves lose to South Alabama in Jonesboro this Saturday afternoon. I don’t expect that to happen. Steve Campbell left UCA at the end of last season to take on a rebuilding project in Mobile. Campbell is a heck of a coach, but the rebuilding process will take time. His team is 2-6 overall and 0-4 in road games. The South Alabama wins have come by scores of 41-31 over Texas State and 45-7 over Alabama State. The losses have been by scores of 30-26 to Louisiana Tech, 55-13 to Oklahoma State, 52-35 to Memphis, 52-7 to Appalachian State, 48-13 to Georgia Southern and 38-17 to Troy.

UCA 29, Lamar 22 — The Bears fell to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in Southland Conference play with a 23-21 loss at McNeese State. The Cowboys (6-2, 5-1) are now alone in first place in the conference. UCA trailed 20-7 in the second quarter but fought back to take a 21-20 lead on a 39-yard Carlos Blackman run with 13 seconds left in the third quarter. The Cowboys went back ahead on a 24-yard field goal with 7:27 left, and then the McNeese defense made sure that lead stood. The Bears might be able to get back on the winning track in Conway on Saturday night against a Lamar team that’s 4-4 overall and 3-3 in conference play. The wins have been by scores of 70-7 over Kentucky Christian, 27-21 over Incarnate Word, 41-23 over Sam Houston State and 24-17 over Stephen F. Austin. The losses have come by scores of 77-0 to Texas Tech, 49-48 to Northwestern State of Louisiana, 30-24 Southeastern Louisiana and 50-27 to Nicholls State.

Alabama A&M 30, UAPB 20 — Poor UAPB. For a second consecutive week, the Golden Lions led in the fourth quarter and then lost in overtime. The previous week it had been a 48-47 loss to Mississippi Valley State in two overtimes. This time it was a 45-38 loss at Grambling in a single overtime. A Tiger field goal with 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter left forced overtime. There were 11 lead changes in the game as UAPB  fell to 1-7 overall and 0-4 in SWAC play. Alabama A&M rolls into Pine Bluff for Saturday afternoon’s homecoming game. The visitors are 4-4. The victories have been by scores of 37-0 over Miles College, 21-16 over Jackson State, 42-21 over Texas Southern and 27-10 over Alabama State. The losses have been by scores of 25-20 to North Alabama, 63-7 to Cincinnati, 29-27 to Southern University and 42-21 to Texas Southern.

Ouachita 27, Southern Arkansas 24 — Ouachita has won 14 consecutive conference games and is 42-10 in Great American Conference play since the start of the 2014 season. The Tigers moved to 9-0 in 2018 with a 35-10 victory over UAM (4-5) last Saturday afternoon in Monticello. Ouachita led 28-0 at halftime and then coasted in the second half. The Tigers have outscored their past three opponents 134-31 and have scored more than 30 points in six of their nine games. And that’s with a redshirt freshman at quarterback. Southern Arkansas had an even better first half last Saturday. The Muleriders jumped out to a 34-0 lead over Henderson (5-4) in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado and ended up winning 34-14. SAU outgained Henderson 492-163, led 28-10 in first downs and dominated time of possession 42:39 to 17:21. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner was 21 of 31 passing for 296 yards and one touchdown. If Ouachita wins, the Tigers will have secured their fourth undisputed conference title in the eight years of the GAC. If the Muleriders win, SAU and Ouachita will be tied for the conference lead with one game to go.

Henderson 34, UAM 32 — UAM had won three consecutive games prior to the loss to Ouachita. Henderson had won four consecutive games before losing to SAU. Give the Reddies the slight edge in what should be a close game since this one is at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia.

Harding 40, Southeastern Oklahoma 21 — Southeastern Oklahoma (5-4) was having a successful season until the wheels came off the past two weeks. First came a loss at Henderson on a 40-yard Reddie field goal with five seconds remaining in the game. That was followed by a 10-6 loss at home in Durant to a struggling Arkansas Tech team. Harding is trying to get to 9-2 and sneak into the playoffs. The Bisons rolled to a 49-7 victory last Saturday against East Central Oklahoma (2-7). Harding had 564 yards rushing and 35 first downs in that game. Bison quarterback Preston Paden only threw two passes.

Arkansas Tech 35, East Central Oklahoma 33 — This Arkansas Tech team, which is 3-6 with two games remaining in the season, is difficult to figure out. It loses to a Southwestern Oklahoma team that it should have beaten and then comes back the next week to defeat a Southeastern Oklahoma squad that it had no business beating. Tech should defeat East Central Oklahoma at home in Russellville on Saturday afternoon. After all, East Central is tied for last place in the conference. That doesn’t mean the Wonder Boys will, though.

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College football: Week 9

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Finally, there’s a Razorback victory to discuss.

The Hog losing streak, which had reached six games, is a thing of the past following the 23-0 homecoming victory in Fayetteville against Tulsa. Too bad you can’t play a home-and-home series in a single season. After all, Arkansas has now won 19 consecutive games against Tulsa.

The last time there was a Hurricane victory over the Hogs was in 1976 when Steve Cox (who would transfer to Arkansas the next season) kicked three field goals in a 9-3 win. Arkansas is now 55-15-3 through the decades against Tulsa with a 42-5 record in Fayetteville.

Connor Noland became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Arkansas since Mitch Mustain started against Utah State in 2006. That was in the soap opera era of Arkansas football. And speaking of folks named Connor, Connor Limpert has now made 10 consecutive field goals for Arkansas.

We were 8-2 on the picks last week to bring the record to 54-15 for the season.

Here are the picks for this Saturday’s games:

Arkansas 31, Vanderbilt 30 — This is probably the only realistic shot at a Southeastern Conference victory for the Razorbacks in 2018. Vanderbilt comes in with a record of 3-5 overall and 0-4 in the SEC. The wins have been by scores of 35-7 over Middle Tennessee, 41-10 over Nevada and 31-27 over Tennessee State. The losses have been by scores of 22-17 to Notre Dame, 37-14 to South Carolina, 41-13 to Georgia, 37-27 to Florida and 14-7 to Kentucky.

Louisiana-Lafayette 29, Arkansas State 27 — The Red Wolves improved to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in Sun Belt Conference play with a 51-35 victory over Georgia State (3-5, 1-2) in a Thursday night game in Jonesboro last week. The ASU offense went 75 yards in nine plays to score on its first possession and never looked back. Arkansas State scored 20 points in the first quarter and had 34 at the half. I still have questions about just how good this Red Wolf team is. It goes on the road Saturday to take on 3-4 Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ three victories have been by scores of 49-17 over Grambling, 42-27 over Texas State and 66-38 over New Mexico State. The losses have come by scores of 56-10 to Mississippi State, 30-28 to Coastal Carolina, 56-14 to Alabama and 27-17 to Appalachian State. While hoping the Red Wolves will answer some questions, we’ll give a slight edge to the home team for now.

McNeese State 24, UCA 22 — The Bears improved to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in Southland Conference play with a 38-17 win in Conway over Northwestern State of Louisiana (2-5, 1-4). Meanwhile, Incarnate Word upset McNeese State, 45-17. That means that UCA, McNeese and Incarnate Word are tied for the conference lead. Redshirt quarterback Luke Hales passed for 278 yards and five touchdowns for the Bears last week. It’s never easy to win in Lake Charles, which is where UCA will be on Saturday night. McNeese is also 5-2. In addition to losing to Incarnate Word, the Cowboys fell 30-3 to Brigham Young. The five victories have been by scores of 17-14 over Northern Colorado, 51-34 over Houston Baptist, 20-10 over Nicholls State, 17-10 over Stephen F. Austin and 24-21 over Abilene Christian. Expect this to be a close game.

Grambling 39, UAPB 15 — The Golden Lions came oh so close on Saturday before falling 48-47 in two overtimes to a Mississippi Valley State team that had come into the game with an 0-5 record. UAPB is now 1-6 overall and 0-3 in SWAC play. The Golden Lions scored a touchdown to start the second overtime but missed the extra point attempt. UAPB must go on the road this week to play 3-4 Grambling. The Tigers have posted wins of 34-0 over Alabama State, 62-7 over Oklahoma Panhandle State and 34-21 over Texas Southern. The losses have been by scores of 49-17 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 34-7 to Northwestern State, 22-16 to Prairie View A&M and 33-26 to Alcorn State.

Ouachita 37, UAM 21 — Ouachita is still ranked No. 4 nationally in NCAA Division II after rolling to a 41-0 victory over 1-7 Southern Nazarene on Thursday night of last week. The Tigers, who are 8-0, lost the last time they visited Monticello in 2016 and must now take on a UAM team that’s feeling better about itself following three consecutive victories. In Ouachita’s win over the Crimson Storm, senior tailback Kris Oliver from Arkadelphia became the Great American Conference career rushing leader with 3,493 yards. Oliver had 151 yards rushing on 28 carries against Southern Nazarene. UAM is 4-4 following a 45-37 victory in Monticello over 2-6 Oklahoma Baptist. UAM quarterback Cole Sears was 21 of 38 passing in that game for 412 yards.

Southern Arkansas 34, Henderson 33 — The Murphy USA Classic on a neutral field at El Dorado should be the game of the week in the GAC. Southern Arkansas, which is ranked No. 21 nationally, bounced back from its 21-0 loss at Southeastern Oklahoma to defeat 2-6 East Central Oklahoma by a final score of 48-9 last Saturday in Magnolia. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner was 19 of 26 passing for 242 yards and four touchdowns for the 7-1 Muleriders. SAU led 504-206 in total offense. Henderson, however, has won four consecutive games to move to 5-3 and has enough talent to give the Muleriders problems. Freshman kicker Temo Martinez from Dardanelle hit a 40-yard field goal with five seconds remaining last Saturday afternoon in Arkadelphia to lift the Reddies to a 20-17 victory over 5-3 Southeastern Oklahoma. It wasn’t a pretty game. Henderson lost four fumbles, Southeastern’s quarterback threw four interceptions and there were a combined 17 punts.

Harding 55, East Central Oklahoma 16 — Harding can probably name the score in Ada, Okla., on Saturday afternoon. The Bisons, who are ranked No. 23 nationally this week, improved to 6-2 with a 38-7 victory over 3-5 Northwestern Oklahoma last Saturday in Searcy. Harding had 334 of its 409 yards of offense on the ground. Bison quarterback Preston Paden ran for three touchdowns.

Southeastern Oklahoma 26, Arkansas Tech 9 — Arkansas Tech is the only one of the six Arkansas schools in the GAC with a losing record. The Wonder Boys fell to 2-6 last Saturday with a 35-14 loss to 3-5 Southwestern Oklahoma. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 28-0 lead in that game. It will only get tougher this Saturday afternoon in Durant against a talented Southeastern Oklahoma squad.

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College football: Week 8

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

The Razorbacks still can’t hold a lead. It comes from a losing mentality — years of having players who really don’t believe they will win.

At least this Arkansas team shows signs of improvement. Yes, Ole Miss drove 97 yards and scored with 42 seconds remaining for a 37-33 victory last Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. But Arkansas’ offense proved it could move the ball and score consistently. Coming into the game, the Razorbacks had gone 16 quarters without having the lead in losses to North Texas, Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama. The Arkansas offense gained an impressive 476 yards. The Chief’s defense was another matter as it gave up 611 yards.

The announced crowd of 51,438 was the largest at War Memorial Stadium since the Georgia game in 2014. Of course, the previous three opponents that Jeff Long sent to the capital city were Florida A&M, Alcorn State and Toledo. With Long and Bret “Little Rock Is A Road Game” Bielema thankfully out the picture, the new regime at Arkansas seems to have embraced the Little Rock tradition. The fans responded with enthusiasm, making the 70-year-old facility rock like the old days. It was Arkansas’ 216th game at War Memorial Stadium. The record there is 151-61-4.

We went 8-1 last week on the picks, making the record for the season 46-13.

Here are the selections for this week. We’ll start with Arkansas State and Ouachita since they have Thursday night games:

Arkansas State 31, Georgia State 29 — The Red Wolves did what they were supposed to do in nonconference play (no one expected them to be close to Alabama) with a 3-1 record and victories over Southeast Missouri State, Tulsa and UNLV. Sun Belt Conference play has been a different story as the Red Wolves find themselves 0-2 following losses of 28-21 to Georgia Southern and 35-9 to Appalachian State. There’s plenty of grumbling (at least on social media) among the ASU faithful these days. A victory on Thursday night in Jonesboro against a 2-4 Georgia State team would quiet things down for the time being. The two Georgia State victories have come by scores of 24-20 over Kennesaw State and 46-14 over Louisiana-Monroe. The four losses have been by scores of 41-7 to North Carolina State, 59-22 to Memphis, 34-15 to Western Michigan and 37-20 to Troy.

Ouachita 42, Southern Nazarene 20 — Of the 13 college football programs in the state, Ouachita is the only one that’s undefeated. The 7-0 Tigers are ranked No. 4 nationally in NCAA Division II and host a 1-6 Southern Nazarene squad at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia on Thursday night. It’s hard to imagine a better performance than Ouachita’s victory last Saturday in Shawnee, Okla., against Oklahoma Baptist. Ouachita led 58-7 in the third quarter before pulling all of its starters. The Tigers had 562 yards of offense with 423 of that coming on the ground. Ouachita had no incomplete passes, no fumbles and never had to punt. After a field goal to end their first drive, the Tigers scored touchdowns on eight consecutive possessions. Brockton Brown out of Sheridan scored three of those touchdowns on running plays.

Arkansas 39, Tulsa 28 — This will be the third Arkansas school that Tulsa has played. The Golden Hurricane struggled to beat UCA by a final score of 38-27 in the season opener. That has been followed by five consecutive losses — 28-21 to Texas, 29-20 to Arkansas State, 31-17 to Temple, 41-26 to Houston and 25-24 to South Florida. This is Arkansas’ best chance for a second victory in 2018. The Hogs best not waste the opportunity. It’s yet another 11 a.m. kickoff in Fayetteville.

UCA 25, Northwestern State 19 — The Bears moved to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in Southland Conference play as they went on the road last Saturday and came away with a 27-17 victory over Stephen F. Austin. UCA is down to its third-string quarterback, but redshirt freshman Luke Hales is playing well. Hales was 19 of 41 passing for 226 yards and one touchdown last week. The Bears gained 272 of their 379 yards of total offense in the second half against a Lumberjack team that fell to 1-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play. The UCA defense had 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. The Bears are back in Conway this Saturday night to take on a Northwestern State team out of Louisiana that’s 2-4 overall and 1-3 in Southland play. The Demons have had wins of 34-7 over Grambling and 49-48 over Lamar. The losses have been by scores of 59-7 to Texas A&M, 24-17 to Southeastern Louisiana, 28-10 to Nicholls State and 42-28 to Sam Houston State.

Mississippi Valley State 27, UAPB 23 — The Golden Lions didn’t lose last week. That’s because 1-5 UAPB had a open date. That open date was welcome after being outscored 237-55 in the previous four games. The Golden Lions certainly have a chance this week against an 0-5 Mississippi Valley State team that has lost 35-7 to North Dakota, 71-0 to Jacksonville State, 56-20 to Alcorn State, 41-27 to Bethune-Cookman and 23-7 to Jackson State. In a battle between two struggling programs, we’ll give a slight edge to the home team.

Southern Arkansas 38, East Central Oklahoma 18 — The Muleriders are no longer undefeated. They went to Durant, Okla., with a 6-0 record and never got the engine started in a 21-0 loss to Southeastern Oklahoma. It was only a 7-0 Savage Storm lead in the third quarter before a talented Southeastern team pulled away at the end. SAU quarterback Barrett Renner, who suffered a hip pointer in the game, was 11 of 22 passing for just 102 yards. The Muleriders should have a far easier time of it in Magnolia on Saturday afternoon against an East Central Oklahoma squad that’s 2-5 following a 31-10 loss to Henderson last week.

Southeastern Oklahoma 30, Henderson 24 — Henderson is now 4-3 and appears to be getting back on track following three consecutive victories — 24-10 over Southern Nazarene, 56-21 over Oklahoma Baptist  and 31-10 over East Central Oklahoma. The Reddies’ homecoming game Saturday is against a 5-2 Southeastern Oklahoma team that also is getting better and is filled with confidence after shutting out SAU. The Muleriders are ranked No. 22 nationally this week. This should be the best game of the week in the Great American Conference.

UAM 37, Oklahoma Baptist 22 — The Boll Weevils have won two consecutive games to improve to 3-4. Oklahoma Baptist fell to 2-5 with its loss to Ouachita. UAM posted a 35-12 victory over Southern Nazarene last week. The Boll Weevils had 289 rushing yards and never trailed. It’s homecoming on Saturday afternoon in Monticello, which should mean a third consecutive win.

Arkansas Tech 26, Southwestern Oklahoma 21 — It’s a battle in Russellville on Saturday afternoon between two teams that are 2-5 and struggling in all phases of the game– Arkansas Tech and Southwestern Oklahoma. Tech lost last Saturday by a final score of 21-0 at 3-4 Northwestern Oklahoma. The Wonder Boys threw four interceptions and also lost a fumble. Tech has now committed 12 turnovers in a three-game losing streak in which the Wonder Boys have been outscored 81-23. Southwestern Oklahoma lost 50-10 at home last week to Harding.

Harding 51, Northwestern Oklahoma 17 — The Bisons are 5-2 and ranked No. 24 nationally. They bounced back from their 7-3 loss to Ouachita with that 50-10 victory at Southwestern Oklahoma. Harding scored touchdowns on each of its first six possessions. The Bisons led 36-0 at the half and 50-0 following three quarters of play.

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College football: Week 7

Monday, October 8th, 2018

When you play in the SEC West, competing against top-ranked teams becomes the norm.

Last Saturday’s game against Alabama marked the 10th time that Arkansas has played a No. 1 team in the past 12 seasons.

Arkansas is 0-7 through the decades against No. 1 Alabama teams and 4-20 against all No. 1 teams. The four wins came in 2007 against LSU and in 1964, 1965 and 1981 against Texas.

The good news for Razorback fans in Saturday’s 65-31 loss was that Arkansas managed 405 yards of offense.

The bad news was that the Razorback defense gave up 639 yards. Another sore point: Arkansas has now allowed a defensive or special teams touchdown in each of the past four games.

Alabama simply doesn’t lose games it’s supposed to win. Saturday’s Tide victory was the 78th consecutive win in a game against an unranked opponent. At 1-5, meanwhile, Arkansas is off to its worst start since Frank Broyles’ first team lost six consecutive games to begin the 1958 season.

Arkansas teams have now lost to Alabama for 12 consecutive years. The 65 points given up last Saturday were the most points scored by an SEC team against Arkansas since Auburn did it in 2010. Alabama has now gained more than 500 yards of offense and scored 45 or more points in six consecutive games.

On to Ole Miss.

The weather Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium should be nice. The crowd should be a good one. I think the game will be close.

The record was 6-1 on the picks last week, making the record for the season 38-12.

Here are the picks for this week’s games:

Appalachian State 30, Arkansas State 26 — College football should never be played on Tuesday nights, but Arkansas State must go with the hand it’s dealt in the Sun Belt Conference. Appalachian State gave Penn State a scare before losing the season opener in overtime by a final score of 45-38. This team is the most talented squad in the Sun Belt and has since rolled to victories of 45-9 over Charlotte, 72-7 over Gardner-Webb and 52-7 over South Alabama. Arkansas State has had 10 days to get over its 28-21 loss at Georgia Southern. The home team won on a 47-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds remaining in the game. That loss dropped ASU to 3-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play. Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen has now tied the school record with 67 career passing touchdowns. He was 38 of 50 passing for 376 yards in the loss at Georgia Southern. In that game, ASU was outrushed 348-117. That doesn’t bode well for Tuesday night’s game in Jonesboro.

Ole Miss 34, Arkansas 31 — The Rebels moved to 4-2 with a 70-21 win over Louisiana-Monroe in Oxford last Saturday. The other three victories have been by scores of 47-27 over Texas Tech, 76-41 over Southern Illinois and 38-17 over Kent State. The losses have been by scores of 62-7 to Alabama and 45-16 to LSU. Arkansas is improving. With a loud home crowd, the Hogs should be able to hang around until the end of this one.

UCA 28, Stephen F. Austin 20 — The Bears improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in Southland Conference play on Saturday night in Conway with a 66-35 victory over Houston Baptist (1-4, 0-3). Those 66 points were especially impressive when you consider that UCA is down to its third-string quarterback. Sophomore starter Breylin Smith broke his ankle a week earlier. Junior reserve Kirk Baugh then injured his shoulder. That left it to redshirt freshman Luke Hales. It wasn’t a bad start. His first pass on the second play from scrimmage went for a 65-yard touchdown. His first run also went for a touchdown. His fourth pass went for a 31-yard touchdown. Hales was 16 of 27 passing for 304 yards and five touchdowns. And he didn’t even know for sure that he would start until Friday night. The Bears travel to Nacogdoches, Texas, this week to take on a struggling Stephen F. Austin team that’s 1-4. The lone victory was by a score of 24-21 over Abilene Christian. The four losses have been by scores of 63-6 to Mississippi State, 31-7 to Incarnate Word, 17-10 to McNeese State and 54-21 to Sam Houston State.

Ouachita 32, Oklahoma Baptist 21 — Ouachita moved up to No. 5 nationally in the American Football Coaches Association’s NCAA Division II poll following a tension-filled victory over a nationally ranked Harding team in Searcy. The 7-3 final score was like something you would have seen in the 1950s. It was the result of two of the country’s best defenses being at the top of their game. Harding led 3-0 at the end of the third quarter with Ouachita quarterback Brayden Brazeal out due to an injury to his throwing hand. Senior wide receiver Drew Harris from Benton, who had missed the previous two games due to an injury, was forced to play quarterback for the first time since high school. He led the Tigers on a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive. The game’s only touchdown came with 9:29 left. The Bisons then had their ball-control offense use up the remaining time on the clock, reaching the Ouachita one in the final seconds before an illegal procedure penalty and an incomplete pass on fourth down dropped them to 4-2 on the season. The 6-0 Tigers travel to Shawnee to take on a 2-4 Oklahoma Baptist team that lost by a final score of 56-21 to Henderson last Saturday.

Southeastern Oklahoma 36, Southern Arkansas 35 — Upset special. The Muleriders are 6-0 and ranked 15th nationally by the AFCA this week. But they have struggled in games against teams from Oklahoma. The most recent example came on Saturday in Magnolia when SAU only defeated a 1-5 Southern Nazarene team by a final score of 21-16. The Crimson Storm had the ball twice late in the game with a chance to take the lead, but the final two drives ended in turnovers. Southeastern Oklahoma, which is 4-2, is tough in Durant. The Savage Storm has won three consecutive games — 21-7 over UAM, 37-9 over Northwestern Oklahoma and 31-20 over Southwestern Oklahoma.

Harding 50, Southwestern Oklahoma 29 — Harding is probably the best 4-2 team in the country in NCAA Division II. Don’t be surprised if the No. 24 Bisons run the table, finish the season 9-2 and make the playoffs again. Southwestern Oklahoma, which is 2-4 so far this year following a 3-8 finish in 2017, will have no answer for the Harding rushing attack this Saturday in Weatherford.

UAM 24, Southern Nazarene 22 — The Boll Weevils went to Russellville on Saturday and stunned Arkansas Tech by a score of 34-16 to move to 2-4 on the season. Senior quarterback Cole Sears was 20 of 33 passing for 220 yards for the Weevils.

Henderson 44, East Central Oklahoma 39 — The Reddies evened their record at 3-3 with that 56-21 victory over Oklahoma Baptist. Henderson outrushed the Bisons 383-87 while quarterback Richard Stammetti was 17 of 29 passing. Henderson travels to Ada this Saturday to take on an East Central team that’s 2-4 thus far this season after going 2-9 in 2017.

Arkansas Tech 27, Northwestern Oklahoma 25 — The Wonder Boys lost their first two games, won their next two games and now have lost back-to-back games to Ouachita and UAM. It appears time to win a couple. That can start Saturday following the long trip to Alva to take on a Northwestern Oklahoma team that’s also 2-4 following a 5-6 finish in 2017.


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College football: Week 6

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

Arkansas fans must look for silver linings these days. So here are a couple for you:

— They have a chance to see what could be one of the greatest college football teams ever (I emphasize “could be”) in Fayetteville on Saturday. How often can you say that?

— The Ole Miss kickoff at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock has been set for 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 13. That’s just about perfect. It allows for a full day of tailgating on the golf course, but the game doesn’t finish too late at night.

We thought we were on the way to an 8-0 mark on the picks last week, but UCA fell in overtime to Sam Houston State and Arkansas State lost 28-21 when Georgia Southern scored on a 47-yard touchdown run with just 19 seconds remaining.

The 6-2 record last week left us at 32-11 on the season.

Let’s get to the picks for Week 6 of the college football season:

Alabama 51, Arkansas 22 — The Tide warmed up last Saturday with a 56-14 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette in Tuscaloosa. Alabama led 49-0 at the half and probably could have scored 100 points had it wished. Jaylen Waddle returned a punt for a touchdown and also caught two touchdown passes. Arkansas, meanwhile, lost to Texas A&M for a seventh consecutive year. The 24-17 defeat at the hands of the Aggies marked the fourth time in the past five years for Arkansas to lose by seven points to A&M. A Razorback team has now lost four consecutive games in a season for the first time since 2013. Arkansas had just 55 rushing yards but played well on defense. It’s clear that fans are losing interest in this team since the crowd of 55,383 in Arlington was the smallest in the history of the eight-year renewed series at AT&T Stadium. Alabama has won its five games by scores of 51-14 over Louisville, 57-7 over Arkansas State, 62-7 over Ole Miss, 45-23 over Texas A&M and 56-14 over Louisiana-Lafayette. You get the feeling that the Crimson Tide could have pretty much named the score in any of those games. Why should this Saturday be any different?

UCA 30, Houston Baptist 19 — The Bears are 2-2 overall and 1-1 in Southland Conference play following that 34-31 overtime loss at Sam Houston State. Bear quarterback Breylin Smith went out late in the game with an ankle injury. Kirk Baugh will be the starting quarterback this week against Houston Baptist in Conway. The Bears got the game at Sam Houston to overtime with a late touchdown but had a field goal attempt blocked in the first overtime. Sam Houston then came back with a field goal to win it. Houston Baptist opened the season with a 49-7 victory over a mediocre Division II team (Southwest Baptist) and has since lost 51-34 to McNeese State, 38-13 to Abilene Christian and 63-27 to SMU.

Jackson State 44, UAPB 24 — The Golden Lions are 1-4 following a 55-9 loss last Saturday at Florida International, which is coached by former Arkansan Butch Davis. UAPB took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, and then the home team scored 48 consecutive points. It was 38-3 at halftime. I’m not sure that the Golden Lions will win another game this year. Jackson State comes to Pine Bluff on Saturday with a 1-2 record. An 18-16 victory over Florida A&M is sandwiched between losses of 55-7 to Southern Mississippi and 21-16 to Alabama A&M.

Ouachita 25, Harding 23 — You can flip a coin when trying to decide the winner of this one. I can’t decide. What we know for sure is that it’s one of the biggest games of the season in NCAA Division II. Ouachita is 5-0 and ranked sixth nationally in the American Football Coaches Association DII poll. Harding is 4-1 and ranked 19th nationally by the AFCA. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday in Searcy. Ouachita remained undefeated last week in Arkadelphia with a 24-7 victory over Arkansas Tech. The Wonder Boys were threatening to make it a one-possession game with just more than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Ouachita’s Keandre Evans intercepted a pass and took it 100 yards for a touchdown. The play later was shown on numerous ESPN programs and even at halftime of Sunday Night Football on NBC. Ouachita led 10-0 at the half. Its offense was out of sync for much of the game, but the Tiger defense has gotten better each week. Harding rolled to a 47-21 victory over UAM in Monticello. The Bisons led 24-0 at the end of the first quarter and 40-7 at the half. UAM fumbled the opening kickoff, and it only got worse from there for the home team. The Ouachita-Harding game has come down to the final minutes of play in each of the past three seasons (Harding has won three of those games and Ouachita has won two). There’s no reason to believe this Saturday’s contest will be any different.

Arkansas Tech 31, UAM 21 — The Wonder Boy offense struggled against Ouachita, but its defense was impressive. The Wonder Boys lost their first two games of the season and then won two consecutive games prior to the loss to Ouachita. There’s no reason to believe they won’t won’t be 3-3 after a home game against 1-4 UAM. The Boll Weevils gave up 406 yards to Harding last week and had only 291 yards of offense.

Southern Arkansas 59, Southern Nazarene 32 — The Muleriders are 5-0 and ranked 17th nationally in the AFCA poll. They surprisingly struggled last week in a 55-45 victory against 2-3 Oklahoma Baptist. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner was 26 of 33 passing for 387 yards. SAU led 611-554 in total offense in a game in which neither defense could stop the opponent. Things should be a bit easier at home this Saturday afternoon against 1-4 Southern Nazarene.

Henderson 18, Oklahoma Baptist 17 — The Reddies improved to 2-3 last Saturday with a 24-10 win over Southern Nazarene. Reddie quarterback Richard Stammetti was 16 of 33 passing for 212 yards. Southern Nazarene was held to just 70 yards passing. Oklahoma Baptist is also 2-3. We’ll give the advantage to the home team since the game is in Arkadelphia.


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College football: Week 5

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

I read the comments late Saturday night and Sunday on social media as Razorback fans looked for silver linings in the wake of Arkansas’ 34-3 loss at Auburn. I couldn’t help but think about how far the Arkansas program has fallen.

Look, I’m all about optimism and viewing the glass as half full. But comments I read, as people desperately searched for something positive, are what you write when you’re a fan of Tulane or Rice. When I first began paying attention to football, Arkansas, Alabama and Texas were the three winningest programs in the country in the decade of the 1960s.

Yes, how the mighty have fallen in Fayetteville.

At least most of the Razorback games will be easy to pick this year. We were 8-1 on the picks last week. That gives us a 26-9 record for the season.

Here are the picks for Week 5:

Texas A&M 37, Arkansas 20 — Special team problems were common in the Arkansas loss to Auburn. There was a 96-yard kickoff return, long punt returns and more. Arkansas outgained Auburn 290-225, but the Tigers didn’t have to go far for scores. Auburn has won the last three games in this series by a combined 116 points. It was the eighth consecutive year for Arkansas to lose its Southeastern Conference opener. The last win in an SEC opener was against Georgia in 2010. Arkansas falls to 11-16-1 in the series with Auburn. Guz Malzahn is 5-1 against the Hogs as the Auburn head coach. This week’s opponent isn’t a vintage Aggie squad, but it’s not bad. Texas A&M gave Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million contract to win SEC and national titles, not to go to minor bowls. The Aggies are off to a 2-2 start this year with victories of 59-7 over Northwestern State of Louisiana and 48-10 over Louisiana-Monroe. They looked pretty good in a 28-26 loss to Clemson and not so good in a 45-23 loss last Saturday to Alabama. The Tide’s starting quarterback passed for 387 yards against a fragile Aggie secondary. Unfortunately, Arkansas doesn’t have a good quarterback to take advantage of that secondary.

Arkansas State 31, Georgia Southern 27 — The Red Wolves open Sun Belt Conference play against a Georgia Southern team that fell 43-25 a year ago to ASU. Arkansas State is 3-1 for the first time since 2008. Last week’s 27-20 victory over UNLV in Jonesboro was the first time for an Arkansas State team to defeat nonconference FBS opponents back to back since moving to the FBS 26 years ago. Justice Hansen was 19 of 27 passing for 199 yards in the win over UNLV. Georgia Southern is 2-1 with victories of 37-6 over South Carolina State and 34-13 over Massachusetts. The loss was to Clemson by a score of 38-7.

UCA 29, Sam Houston State 24 — The Bears have had two weeks to prepare for this road game. Sam Houston State started the season with a 41-32 victory over Prairie View A&M and has since lost 24-23 to North Dakota and 27-7 to Nicholls State. If UCA hopes to compete for a Southland Conference title, this isn’t a game it can afford to lose.

Florida International 60, UAPB 10 — This isn’t going to be an enjoyable year for fans of the Golden Lions. They fell to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the SWAC last week with a 62-13 loss to Prairie View A&M. UAPB has now given up 152 points in its past two games. Prairie View had 588 yards of offense in the first half alone. It was the 10th loss in the past 11 games for UAPB and the sixth consecutive year for Prairie View to defeat UAPB. The Golden Lions go to Miami on Saturday to collect the check and take a beating from a Florida International squad coached by Butch Davis, the former head coach of the Miami Hurricanes and the North Carolina Tar Heels. He’s a University of Arkansas graduate whose first coaching job was as an assistant at Fayetteville High School in 1973. Davis’ team is 2-2 with wins of 28-20 over Old Dominion and 63-24 over Massachusetts along with losses of 38-28 to Indiana and 31-17 to Miami.

Ouachita 30, Arkansas Tech 21 — Ouachita moved to No. 7 nationally in the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll following a 42-0 victory in the rain last Saturday night over East Central Oklahoma. All six of Ouachita’s touchdowns came on the ground. Brockton Brown of Sheridan had three of those touchdowns. Ouachita, which is 4-0, led 28-0 at the half and never looked back. The home team limited East Central to just 82 yards rushing and eight first downs. Tech lost its first two games but has bounced back with two consecutive victories. Bryan Allen rushed for 175 yards on 33 carries last week in the Wonder Boys’ 24-10 victory over Southern Nazarene in Russellville. It’s homecoming this Saturday at Ouachita with a special noon kickoff.

Harding 57, UAM 28 — The 3-1 Bisons are No. 20 nationally following a 56-7 victory over 2-2 Oklahoma Baptist. Harding had three players rush for 100 yards or more. The Bisons finished with 508 yards of offense with 457 of that coming on the ground. Harding led 35-7 at halftime. UAM fell to 1-3 with a 21-7 loss to 2-2 Southeastern Oklahoma. The Boll Weevils were held scoreless until the fourth quarter and had just 195 yards of offense. They were three of 17 on third down. Expect Harding to be able to run the ball to its heart’s content on Saturday afternoon in Monticello.

Henderson 34, Southern Nazarene 33 — Reddie fans aren’t used to this kind of season. Henderson fell to 1-3 with a 35-31 loss to 2-2 Southwestern Oklahoma in Arkadelphia last Saturday night. The Reddies led 24-14 at halftime, but Southwestern scored with 28 seconds remaining to win it. Henderson had just 84 yards on the ground. Southern Nazarene is 1-3 but has shown it can be tough from time to time. The Crimson Storm led Arkansas Tech 10-0 at the half last week before falling 24-10. The Wonder Boys were held to 141 yards of offense in the first half but finished with a 377-116 advantage.

Southern Arkansas 40, Oklahoma Baptist 25 — The 4-0 Muleriders are No. 19 nationally following a 27-14 win over 1-3 Northwestern Oklahoma. The Muleriders outgained Northwestern 342-254 but didn’t put the visitors away until the fourth quarter. The task should be a bit easier this week against an Oklahoma Baptist squad that gave up 56 points in its loss to Harding.


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