College football: Week 11

The kick veered badly to the left, Mike Leach announced an open tryout for kickers at Mississippi State and Arkansas became bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.

Arkansas 31, Mississippi State 28.

It was a fun finish as the Razorbacks drove 75 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, which came with just 21 seconds remaining. The Hogs moved to 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference while Mississippi State fell to 5-4 and 3-3.

With LSU down this year, an 8-4 finish now seems possible. It’s remarkable how far this program has come in two years.

Meanwhile, it’s Battle of the Ravine week in Arkansas. The Battle of the Ravine is to small-college football what the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn is to FBS football — an intense rivalry that divides families right down the middle and is talked about 365 days a year.

It’s the only college football game in the country in which the visiting team walks to a road game rather than taking a bus or airplane. I still believe that one of these years ESPN will decide to bring “College GameDay” to Arkadelphia to experience that walk.

Henderson will walk across U.S. Highway 67 this year to take on Ouachita at 1 p.m. at Cliff Harris Stadium. Both teams are nationally ranked. The two teams have a combined record of 17-3. In other words, there will be some good football played Saturday afternoon.

Two years ago, Sports Illustrated devoted eight pages to the Battle of the Ravine, the largest spread in SI for a sports event in this state that I can remember. This rivalry deserves that kind of national attention.

Every Arkansan should experience the Battle of the Ravine at least once.

I was 8-2 on my picks last week, making the record 65-16 for the year.

Arkansas 29, LSU 27 — Let’s stick with the Hogs for another week even though the game is in Baton Rouge. They certainly showed their grit in Fayetteville last Saturday afternoon. It was the latest winning touchdown for an Arkansas team since a Greg Childs touchdown reception with 15 seconds left against Georgia in 2010. The Hogs are now 18-13-1 in the series against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs missed all three field goal attempts. Cam Little, an Arkansas freshman, made field goals of 51, 48 and 46 yards. He’s the first Razorback kicker since 1997 to make three field goals of 45 or more yards in the same game. LSU may have a lame duck in Coach O, but the Tigers didn’t play like it Saturday against Alabama. The Tide (8-1, 5-1) struggled to beat LSU (4-5, 2-4). It wasn’t over until the final play when an LSU pass fell incomplete in the end zone, allowing Alabama to escape with a 20-14 victory. It should be a close, exciting game in Death Valley this Saturday night.

Henderson 35, Ouachita 25 — Henderson is 9-1, and Ouachita is 8-2. With a victory, the Reddies will clinch at least a share of the Great American Conference championship and a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Ouachita, which had won the previous three GAC titles, saw its hopes for a fourth consecutive crown go up in flames with a 35-21 loss to 8-2 Southeastern Oklahoma. It ended a 19-game conference winning streak for Ouachita at Cliff Harris Stadium. The Tigers, of course, would love nothing more than to spoil Henderson’s party. Ouachita has won the past four Battles of the Ravine. Henderson stayed on track for a GAC title when David Heaton kicked a 43-yard field goal in Shawnee, Okla., as time expired for a 36-34 victory over 6-4 Oklahoma Baptist. Henderson began the winning drive 99 yards away with no timeouts and 2:14 on the clock after a goal-line stand by its defense. It was truly the stuff that championship teams are made of. Reddie quarterback Adam Morse was 28 of 50 passing for 373 yards and two touchdowns.

Harding 51, Arkansas Tech 22 — The Bisons are 9-1 (having only lost to that same Southeastern Oklahoma squad that knocked off Ouachita) and on a roll. They beat 0-10 Southwestern Oklahoma by a final score of 55-7 Saturday, rushing for 459 yards and seven touchdowns. Six different Bisons scored first-half touchdowns as Harding sprinted to a 41-0 halftime lead. They certainly won’t let off the gas this Saturday with at least a share of the GAC title on the line. Arkansas Tech improved to 4-6 with a 56-21 win over 1-9 Northwestern Oklahoma. Senior quarterback Jack Lindsey passed for 185 yards and three touchdowns for the Wonder Boys. Tech led 35-0 at halftime.

Southern Arkansas 21, UAM 19 — Both SAU and UAM are 4-6 entering the final game of the season. Southern Arkansas beat 1-9 Southern Nazarene 31-10 as freshman Jariq Scales rushed for 195 yards and one touchdown. UAM, meanwhile, lost 35-10 to 6-4 East Central Oklahoma as East Central jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead. The Boll Weevils have lost four consecutive games. This week’s game is in Magnolia. Give a slight advantage to the home team.

Louisiana-Monroe 40, Arkansas State 37 — This is a winnable game for the Red Wolves, but it’s hard to have much confidence in a team that’s now 1-8 with eight consecutive losses. The Red Wolves fell 48-14 to Appalachian State (7-2, 4-1) in Jonesboro on Saturday. ASU had just 199 yards of offense in that game. Louisiana-Monroe is 4-5 overall but 4-1 at home, and the game is in Monroe. The victories have come by scores of 12-7 over Jackson State, 29-16 over Troy, 31-28 over Liberty and 41-31 over South Alabama. The losses have been by scores of 45-10 to Kentucky, 59-6 to Coastal Carolina, 55-21 to Georgia State, 59-28 to Appalachian State and 27-19 to Texas State.

Stephen F. Austin 32, UCA 26 — The Bears are 5-4 following a 63-3 homecoming win over an NAIA opponent, Texas Wesleyan. By halftime against the outmatched visitors, UCA already had 49 points, 538 yards of total offense and 410 yards through the air. This is a Texas Wesleyan team that goes to Batesville to play Lyon this week, if that gives you any idea what kind of mismatch this was. Stephen F. Austin is 6-3 with wins of 20-10 over Tarleton State, 58-13 over Mississippi Valley State, 61-13 over Lincoln University of California, 37-20 over Dixie State of Utah, 41-27 over Abilene Christian and 31-17 over Eastern Kentucky. The losses were by scores of 28-22 to Texas Tech, 21-20 to Sam Houston and 38-24 to Jacksonville State.

Florida A&M 41, UAPB 20 — The UAPB losing streak ends at seven games. The Golden Lions are now 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the SWAC after beating Grambling (3-6, 2-4) on Saturday afternoon in Pine Bluff by a final score of 33-26. The opponent will be much tougher this week. Florida A&M comes to Pine Bluff with a record of 7-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The Rattler wins have been by scores of 34-7 over Fort Valley State, 28-0 over Alabama State, 30-7 over South Carolina State, 35-31 over Alabama A&M, 31-28 over Mississippi Valley State, 26-3 over Grambling and 29-17 over Southern University. The losses were by scores of 7-6 to Jackson State and 38-17 to South Florida.

 

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