Archive for October, 2018

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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Rex’s Rankings: After eight weeks

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

There were changes in the Top 10 following last week’s games.

Conway moved up from No. 9 to No. 7 with its 35-21 victory over Fort Smith Northside, which dropped out of the rankings.

Pulaski Academy moved up from No 10 to No. 8 with its 42-7 win over Beebe.

Bentonville started the season 0-3 and is now 4-3. The Tigers moved into the Top 10 at No. 9 following a 24-20 victory over Fayetteville, which dropped from No. 8 to No. 10.

Here are the updated rankings:

OVERALL

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bryant
  3. Greenwood
  4. West Memphis
  5. Benton
  6. Warren
  7. Conway
  8. Pulaski Academy
  9. Bentonville
  10. Fayetteville

CLASS 7A

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

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. West Memphis
  3. Benton
  4. Searcy
  5. Jonesboro

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Harrison
  4. Texarkana
  5. Little Rock McClellan

CLASS 4A

  1. Warren
  2. Joe T. Robinson
  3. Rivercrest
  4. Bauxite
  5. Nashville

CLASS 3A

  1. Booneville
  2. Smackover
  3. Clinton
  4. Rison
  5. Prescott

CLASS 2A

  1. Foreman
  2. Hazen
  3. Junction City
  4. Mount Ida
  5. Earle

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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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Rex’s Rankings: After seven weeks

Monday, October 8th, 2018

For the first time this season, not a single team in the Top 10 lost.

Most of those victories were routs.

In fact, only one game was closer than 19 points. That was Conway’s 34-28 victory over Cabot in overtime. For a fourth consecutive week, Cabot head coach Mike Malham Jr. was denied victory No. 300 in his storied coaching career.

Here are the updated rankings as we head into the final four weeks of the regular season:

OVERALL

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bryant
  3. Greenwood
  4. West Memphis
  5. Benton
  6. Warren
  7. Fort Smith Northside
  8. Fayetteville
  9. Conway
  10. Pulaski Academy

CLASS 7A

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bryant
  3. Fort Smith Northside
  4. Fayetteville
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. West Memphis
  3. Benton
  4. Searcy
  5. Jonesboro

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock McClellan
  3. Little Rock Christian
  4. Harrison
  5. Texarkana

CLASS 4A

  1. Warren
  2. Joe T. Robinson
  3. Rivercrest
  4. Bauxite
  5. Nashville

CLASS 3A

  1. Booneville
  2. Smackover
  3. Clinton
  4. Rison
  5. Prescott

CLASS 2A

  1. Mount Ida
  2. Hazen
  3. Foreman
  4. Junction City
  5. Earle

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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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Rex’s Rankings: After six weeks

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

North Little Rock wins its showdown against Conway, 35,14, to remain in the No. 1 spot.

Bryant wins its showdown against Little Rock Catholic, 59-28, to stay at No. 2.

Conway slips to No. 9.

Greenwood moves up to No. 3 following an impressive 44-27 victory over El Dorado.

And Pulaski Academy moves back into the overall Top 10 following a 54-14 victory over Little Rock Christian.

Here are the updated rankings:

OVERALL

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bryant
  3. Greenwood
  4. West Memphis
  5. Benton
  6. Warren
  7. Fort Smith Northside
  8. Fayetteville
  9. Conway
  10. Pulaski Academy

CLASS 7A

  1. North Little Rock
  2. Bryant
  3. Fort Smith Northside
  4. Fayetteville
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. West Memphis
  3. Benton
  4. Marion
  5. Lake Hamilton

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock McClellan
  3. Little Rock Christian
  4. Harrison
  5. Texarkana

CLASS 4A

  1. Warren
  2. Nashville
  3. Joe T. Robinson
  4. Rivercrest
  5. Bauxite

CLASS 3A

  1. Booneville
  2. Prescott
  3. Clinton
  4. Smackover
  5. Rison

CLASS 2A

  1. Mount Ida
  2. Hazen
  3. Foreman
  4. Junction City
  5. Hector

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