Archive for November, 2017

College football: Week 12

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rex’s Rankings: The final edition

Monday, November 13th, 2017

This will be our final high school football ranking of the season.

Once we get into the second week of the playoffs, it’s best to let the action on the field do the talking.

There were few changes in the rankings last week since many of the teams had byes in the first round of the playoffs.

I hope to see some of you during the first two weekends in December for state championship games at War Memorial Stadium. I plan to be at all six games.

Here are the rankings:

OVERALL

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Greenwood
  3. Pulaski Academy
  4. Bentonville
  5. Bentonville West
  6. Bryant
  7. Pine Bluff
  8. El Dorado
  9. Conway
  10. Wynne

CLASS 7A

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bentonville
  3. Bentonville West
  4. Bryant
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. Pine Bluff
  3. El Dorado
  4. West Memphis
  5. Searcy

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Wynne
  3. Nettleton
  4. Little Rock McClellan
  5. Alma

CLASS 4A

  1. Joe T Robinson
  2. Warren
  3. Arkadelphia
  4. Pea Ridge
  5. Prairie Grove

CLASS 3A

  1. Charleston
  2. Junction City
  3. Mayflower
  4. Clinton
  5. Prescott

CLASS 2A

  1. Mount Ida
  2. Danville
  3. Conway Christian
  4. Earle
  5. Rison

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College football: Week 11 (Battle of the Ravine)

Monday, November 6th, 2017

It’s my favorite week of the year.

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

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

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

There’s much on the line this year.

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

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

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

Here are the picks for Week 11:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rex’s Rankings: The playoffs begin

Monday, November 6th, 2017

The regular season has ended.

The big game of Week 10 was in Bentonville as Bentonville High School defeated Bentonville West High School, 37-28. Both teams have the talent to win a state championship in Class 7A, though we’ll keep North Little Rock atop the rankings for now.

Greenwood remains the clear favorite in Class 6A, and Pulaski Academy remains a solid favorite in Class 5A.

There’s a new No. 1 team in Class 4A following Pea Ridge’s 17-14 loss to Shiloh Christian last Friday night. That new No. 1 is 10-0 Joe T. Robinson, which ended the regular season with a 48-6 victory over Mena.

Here are the rankings at the end of the regular season:

OVERALL

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Greenwood
  3. Pulaski Academy
  4. Bentonville
  5. Bentonville West
  6. Bryant
  7. Pine Bluff
  8. El Dorado
  9. Conway
  10. Little Rock Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bentonville
  3. Bentonville West
  4. Bryant
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. Pine Bluff
  3. El Dorado
  4. West Memphis
  5. Searcy

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Wynne
  4. Watson Chapel
  5. Nettleton

CLASS 4A

  1. Joe T. Robinson
  2. Warren
  3. Arkadelphia
  4. Pea Ridge
  5. Prairie Grove

CLASS 3A

  1. Charleston
  2. Junction City
  3. Mayflower
  4. Clinton
  5. Glen Rose

CLASS 2A

  1. Mount Ida
  2. Danville
  3. Conway Christian
  4. Earle
  5. Rison

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