I was 6-2 last week, and one of the missed picks came because I’m just plain superstitious. Two weeks ago, I had picked No. 16 Valdosta State over Ouachita. The Tigers upset Valdosta. With No. 9 Delta State coming to town, I really thought a good Ouachita team could pull another upset. But I had gone against the Tigers the previous week, and they had won. I figured that if I went against them in the Delta game, they might win yet again. And win they did. A Delta State team that had won 24 consecutive Gulf South Conference games fell hard in Arkadelphia, 38-14. For the rest of the season, I will tell you what I really think.
The other game I missed was that Arkansas State-Troy showdown in Jonesboro that could have gone either way. I picked a three-point margin, and it was indeed a three-point game. But I had gone with the Red Wolves at home. A fumbled punt in the fourth quarter spelled doom for ASU. That’s a shame since Troy might now run the table in the Sun Belt Conference. This is a good Arkansas State team. Yet it badly needed a win last Saturday in its quest for a conference championship.
As for the Alabama-Arkansas game, I had Alabama winning with 35 points, which is exactly what the Crimson Tide had on the scoreboard when the clock ran out in Tuscaloosa. However, I had predicted the Razorbacks would score 29 points. What happened to that offense we saw against Georgia? Where is the running game? Can Ryan Mallett (the guy who sounds like Vanilla Ice when interviewed) play under pressure? So early in the season; so many questions already.
You can get your fill this week of Arkansas teams on TV. UAPB hosts Alcorn State on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in a game on ESPNU. Arkansas State plays at Iowa at 11:05 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2. And Arkansas and Texas A&M square off at Jerry World in Arlington at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2.
We’re 21-9 for the season on picks. Here we go for this week:
Arkansas 37, Texas A&M 34 — I don’t feel good about this prediction since I cannot quite figure out this Razorback team. And the Aggies are 3-0. But look at the opponents thus far. The wins (all in College Station) have been by scores of 41-6 over New Mexico, 38-30 over Utah State and 56-19 over UAB. One thing we saw last year is that a Petrino team gets better as the year goes along. So I’ll go with the Hogs, though I still regret having picked them against Georgia. I was caught up in the hype.
Iowa 35, Arkansas State 26 — The Red Wolves will play well as they head north. And the Hawkeyes are due for a letdown after that 21-10 whipping of Penn State at Happy Valley. But this is a 4-0 Iowa team that has downed Northern Iowa, Iowa State, Arizona and Penn State. The Hawkeyes will be 5-0 after Saturday’s game.
UAPB 21, Alcorn State 17 — Much like the Hogs, this UAPB team is hard to figure out. It loses to Division II UAM in its opener. It comes back to beat NAIA Langston and SWAC opponent Mississippi Valley State. And then the offense is beyond dismal in a loss to Alabama A&M at Huntsville. Alcorn State is 0-3 with losses of 52-0 to Southern Mississippi, 48-0 to Central Michigan and 48-42 to Southern University. This is one of those SWAC games that could go either way. I’ll go with the 2-2 Golden Lions at home in a close one.
UCA 49, Missouri S&T 7 — The 2-1 Bears were a bit lethargic in their home opener despite a win over Division II Glenville State out of West Virginia. UCA is home again this Saturday night. Expect the return of the Bear team that almost beat Divsion I-A Hawaii and destroyed Division I-A Western Kentucky. Missouri S&T (that stands for Science and Technology; it used to be Missouri-Rolla) is bad. This 0-4 team has lost 50-13 to Central Missouri State, 44-41 to St. Joseph’s (is that a team or an aspirin?), 21-17 to Wisconsin-Stevens Point and 48-0 to Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Ouachita 42, UAM 28 — Do the Tigers suffer the inevitable letdown after beating two of the Gulf South Conference’s Big Three on consecutive Saturdays? Ouachita is 4-0. UAM is 1-4. Does Boll Weevil quarterback Scott Buisson have the game of his life? Ouachita is now ranked No. 14 nationally in Division II, and you almost feel like the Tigers are walking into a trap. Buisson is still Buisson, but he lost his top two receivers from last year and his offensive line is not as good. Expect Ouachita’s defensive line to force him to rush his throws most of the evening.
North Alabama 33, Arkansas Tech 28 — Expect the 3-1 Wonder Boys to play well against the 5-0 Lions. Tech was impressive in its 59-14 win over UAM. Quarterback Nick Graziano, the transfer from Nevada, is the real deal. He was 33 of 49 passing for 403 yards and five touchdowns. That is the most by a GSC player this season.
Southern Arkansas 24, Harding 21 — SAU struggled in a 51-17 loss against a Henderson team that gets better by the week. At 1-3, the Mulriders are still trying to find themselves under new head coach Bill Keopple. The 2-3 Bisons have been up and down. The last two weeks have not been pretty — losses of 48-10 to Delta State and 38-0 to North Alabama. In a game that’s hard to figure, we’ll go with the home team.
Henderson 45, West Georgia 27 — The Reddies’ 2-3 record is deceiving. West Georgia, which did not win a game last season, is 0-4 thus far this season. The past two games have seen losses of 48-14 to Ouachita and 55-7 to North Alabama. Henderson rolls in an afternoon game at Arkadelphia.