Archive for September, 2021

College football: Week 4

Monday, September 20th, 2021

An Arkansas Razorback football team is 3-0 for the first time since 2016.

A Razorback football team is ranked for the first time since 2016 (No. 16 in this week’s Associated Press poll).

A Razorback football team has gained more than 600 yards in a game for the first time since 2016.

Can it continue?

We’ll find out Saturday afternoon in Arlington, Texas, as the Hogs take on a Texas A&M team that has won 11 consecutive games. The contest will be nationally televised by CBS. It’s without a doubt the most high-profile game this week in the Southeastern Conference.

In the 45-10 victory over Georgia Southern last Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, the Hogs gained 633 yards of offense and allowed only 233. KJ Jefferson passed for 366 yards and three touchdowns.

There were three Arkansas scoring drives of more than 90 yards. The 633 yards of offense were the eighth most in the history of Razorback football.

We’ll know a lot more about this Arkansas team following the next few games — A&M this week, No. 2 Georgia the following week and Ole Miss the week after that.

The record on picks was a perfect 6-0 last week, making the season record 21-3. This week’s schedule presents some real challenges when it comes to prognostications.

Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 30 — Like Arkansas, Texas A&M is 3-0 for the first time since 2016. The Aggies beat New Mexico by a final score of 34-0 Saturday. A&M is No. 7 in this week’s AP poll. Tom VanHaaren writes for ESPN: “The Aggies stumbled against Colorado in their second game, down late in the fourth quarter, but eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown for the 10-7 win. The team bounced back convincingly against New Mexico. Texas A&M needed a strong win before taking on an Arkansas team that beat Texas 40-21 in Week 2. That game will start a tough stretch of conference games with Alabama two weeks later, so any bit of confidence will help. The Aggies are trying to push forward to another level, and these next few games will gauge where they currently stand.” The Razorbacks believe in themselves after thrashing Texas. Expect them to hang around until late in Saturday’s game.

Tulsa 28, Arkansas State 26 — It was an ugly night in Seattle as the Red Wolves fell 52-3 to a Washington team that came in 0-2. The Huskies had 598 yards of offense as ASU failed to score a touchdown. Red Wolf quarterback James Blackman was just 16 of 38 passing for 176 yards. Saturday’s game will match two teams that are struggling. ASU is 1-2. Tulsa is 0-3 following losses of 19-17 to UC-Davis, 28-23 to Oklahoma State and 41-20 to Ohio State. The slight edge goes to the home team.

Sam Houston 27, UCA 19 — Sam Houston won the spring version of the FCS national championship (UCA chose to play an abbreviated schedule in the fall of 2020) and is off to a 2-0 start this season with victories of 42-16 over Northern Arizona and 52-14 over Southeast Missouri. UCA is 1-2 following Saturday’s 45-23 victory over UAPB. UCA outgained the Golden Lions 456-308. The Bears jumped to a 21-0 lead and led 28-9 at halftime. It will be interesting to see if UCA can stay close to Sam Houston on Saturday afternoon in Conway.

Alcorn 14, UAPB 12 — The Golden Lions started the season with a victory over Lane, had an open date and then fell in Conway on Saturday. SWAC play begins this week against a talented Alcorn team that lost its opener 23-14 to North Carolina Central in a nationally televised game, beat Northwestern State of Louisiana 13-10 and then fell 28-21 at South Alabama on Saturday. This is a Thursday night game in Pine Bluff.

Ouachita 18, Harding 17 — This is usually one of the games of the year in NCAA Division II, a contest that almost always comes down to the final minute of play. Ouachita hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2017 when it dropped its homecoming contest to Harding. The Tigers won their 30th consecutive GAC game last Saturday with a 38-24 victory over winless Arkansas Tech. T.J. Cole had 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Tigers. Kendel Givens, a freshman from Little Rock Christian, had 90 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Givens now has nine rushing touchdowns in just three games as a college athlete. Harding, meanwhile, bounced back from its shocking loss a week earlier at Southeastern Oklahoma to destroy Southern Arkansas in Magnolia by a score of 37-6. The Bisons’ run-oriented offense held the ball for 14:08 of the first quarter and jumped to a 17-0 lead. Harding finished with 442 yards rushing on 73 carries and kept the ball for 42:03 of the game’s 60 minutes. Saturday’s battle in Searcy should be a fun game but also a fast game since neither team likes to throw the football. Ouachita is ranked No. 8 nationally this week in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II poll, and Harding is receiving votes.

Henderson 33, Southern Arkansas 21 — The 3-0 Reddies are up to No. 18 nationally in the AFCA poll. Henderson appears to be getting stronger each week. The Reddies went to Monticello last Saturday and beat UAM by 40 points, 58-18. Reddie quarterback Adam Morse was 26 of 31 passing for 398 yards and four touchdowns. The Reddies outgained the Boll Weevils 607-354. SAU, which won its first two games before being humbled by Harding, should present more of a challenge for Henderson than UAM.

UAM 29, Arkansas Tech 25 — This is a game that could go either way between two teams that are off to slow starts. UAM is 1-2, and Tech is 0-3. Flip a coin.

 

 

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Rex’s Rankings: After four weeks

Monday, September 20th, 2021

The longest winning streak and longest losing streak in the state ended Friday night.

Bryant’s 32-game winning streak came to an end in Longview, Texas, with a 24-21 loss to Longview, a traditional east Texas powerhouse.

Meanwhile, De Queen’s 28-game losing streak ended with a victory over Fouke.

I’m going to leave Bryant at No. 1 overall until it loses to an Arkansas team.

The No. 1 team in Class 4A, Shiloh Christian, lost. But that loss also was to an out-of-state power, this one from Sand Springs, Okla.

Let’s wait for a loss to an Arkansas team before dropping Shiloh out of the top spot in 4A.

Here are the updated rankings as conference play begins this week:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Cabot
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Conway
  5. Lake Hamilton
  6. Little Rock Christian
  7. Bentonville
  8. Little Rock Parkview
  9. Greenwood
  10. Fort Smith Northside

CLASS 7A

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

CLASS 6A

  1. Lake Hamilton
  2. Little Rock Parkview
  3. Greenwood
  4. Benton
  5. El Dorado

CLASS 5A

  1. Little Rock Christian
  2. Pulaski Academy
  3. Harrison
  4. Camden Fairview
  5. Greenbrier

CLASS 4A

  1. Shiloh Christian
  2. Joe T. Robinson
  3. Warren
  4. Ashdown
  5. Crossett

CLASS 3A

  1. Prescott
  2. McGehee
  3. Booneville
  4. Osceola
  5. Harding Academy

CLASS 2A

  1. Bigelow
  2. Des Arc
  3. Clarendon
  4. McCrory
  5. Fordyce

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College football: Week 3

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to the picks for this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Rex’s Rankings: After three weeks

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Bryant had an open date last week, so there’s no change at the top in our overall rankings. The Hornets remain king.

No. 2 Greenwood falls to No. 9 following its 29-20 loss to Fort Smith Northside.

The top four spots are now occupied by teams from the 7A-Central.

New No. 2 Cabot defeated El Dorado, 41-35.

No. 3 North Little Rock defeated Fayetteville, 14-7.

No. 4 Conway defeated Jonesboro, 42-25.

Here are the updated rankings:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Cabot
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Conway
  5. Lake Hamilton
  6. Little Rock Christian
  7. Bentonville
  8. Little Rock Parkview
  9. Greenwood
  10. Shiloh Christian

CLASS 7A

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

CLASS 6A

  1. Lake Hamilton
  2. Little Rock Parkview
  3. Greenwood
  4. Benton
  5. El Dorado

CLASS 5A

  1. Little Rock Christian
  2. Pulaski Academy
  3. Harrison
  4. Camden Fairview
  5. Greenbrier

CLASS 4A

  1. Shiloh Christian
  2. Crossett
  3. Joe T. Robinson
  4. Warren
  5. Malvern

CLASS 3A

  1. Prescott
  2. McGehee
  3. Booneville
  4. Osceola
  5. Harding Academy

CLASS 2A

  1. McCrory
  2. Fordyce
  3. Bigelow
  4. Des Arc
  5. Clarendon

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College football: Week 2

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

It’s Texas week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rex’s Rankings: After two weeks

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

We’re two weeks deep into the high school football season, and some things are clear.

Bryant is as good as ever.

Greenwood is again the class of Class 6A.

Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy will battle for the Class 5A title.

Prescott is the dominant force in Class 3A.

There were some upsets in Week 2. Bentonville, for example, came in ranked No. 2. overall and fell 55-41 to a Conway team that had lost the previous week to Fayetteville.

In Class 2A, Des Arc came in ranked No. 1 and fell 34-26 to McCrory, which now moves into the No. 1 spot.

Here are the updated rankings:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Greenwood
  3. Cabot
  4. North Little Rock
  5. Conway
  6. Lake Hamilton
  7. Little Rock Christian
  8. Pulaski Academy
  9. Bentonville
  10. Fayetteville

CLASS 7A

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

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. Lake Hamilton
  3. El Dorado
  4. Little Rock Parkview
  5. Jonesboro

CLASS 5A

  1. Little Rock Christian
  2. Pulaski Academy
  3. White Hall
  4. Harrison
  5. Camden Fairview

CLASS 4A

  1. Shiloh Christian
  2. Malvern
  3. Stuttgart
  4. Crossett
  5. Joe T. Robinson

CLASS 3A

  1. Prescott
  2. McGehee
  3. Booneville
  4. Osceola
  5. Harding Academy

CLASS 2A

  1. McCrory
  2. Fordyce
  3. Clarendon
  4. Bigelow
  5. Des Arc

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