I forget the exact year, but Texas was bringing one of its great football teams to Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks.
Orville Henry wrote a lengthy Arkansas Gazette column (I know that’s redundant; all of Orville’s columns were lengthy) that broke down the many advantages the Longhorns had going into that game.
He ended the column this way: “Texas should win. Arkansas might.”
That’s the way I feel about the game that will be played at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Alabama should win.
Alabama has superior athletes at most positions. Alabama has far more tradition. Alabama knows how to win big games on the road.
If these two teams were to play five times, Alabama likely would win four of them.
But that one Razorback win could happen Saturday. The fans might storm the field and carry the goal posts over to Dickson Street. We might still be talking about it 20 years from now.
Here’s what I think will really happen: Arkansas will play well and hang with Alabama for three quarters. Superior depth will make the difference in the fourth quarter. Alabama will win by nine.
The record was 4-3 last week, making us 18-6 for the year. I’m glad I incorrectly predicted the outcome Arkansas State’s home opener against Louisiana-Monroe. Steve Roberts needed that victory following an 0-2 start. At the same time the Hogs are playing the Crimson Tide on CBS this Saturday afternoon, the Red Wolves will be in Alabama playing the Troy Trojans on CSS/Cox Sports Television in the Sun Belt television game of the week.
The two private schools — Ouachita and Harding — let me down last week, resulting in the other two missed predictions. Harding lost at West Georgia in the Thursday night Gulf South Conference television game of the week on CSS/Cox Sports Television. And Ouachita lost a 37-31 thriller at home to UAM. The Tigers had 26 first downs to just 13 for the Boll Weevils, but turnovers made the difference. Ouachita had two crucial turnovers that UAM converted into scores. The Weevils had none.
Let’s get to the picks for this week:
Alabama 35, Arkansas 26 — As I’ve written on this blog before, Arkansas was my team in the Southwest Conference and Alabama was my team in the Southeastern Conference when I was growing up. My father played football at Ouachita in the 1940s with Sam Bailey, who went on to be Bear Bryant’s right-hand man for many years. Because of that, I felt a connection to the Alabama program. I was in Birmingham in 1981 when Bryant broke Amos Alonzo Stagg’s record for the most wins for a major college coach with an Iron Bowl Victory over Auburn. I was in Memphis a year later when Bryant coached his last game in the Libery Bowl with a win over Illinois. I celebrated last year when Alabama won the national championship. That said, I’m an Arkansan. I would love to see the Razorbacks pull the upset. I will say it again. Alabama should win. Arkansas might.
Troy 28, Arkansas State 24 — Both of these teams are off to 1-2 starts. Arkansas State lost to Auburn and Louisiana-Lafayette before defeating Louisiana-Monroe. Troy defeated Bowling Green 30-27 at home, lost 41-38 to Oklahoma State in Stillwater and then dropped a 34-33 heartbreaker to UAB in Birmingham. Troy has had some great teams through the years. This doesn’t appear to be one of them. Still, we expect tradition and the home-field advantage to make the difference Saturday afternoon.
Tulsa 28, UCA 20 — The Bears are 3-0 and step up in classification with a trip to Tulsa on Saturday. This is not one of Tulsa’s better teams, certainly not an offense to be confused with the ones Gus Malzahn fielded when he was the offensive coordinator there. Tulsa opened with a 51-49 loss at East Carolina, beat Bowling Green 33-20 at home and then was blitzed 65-28 at Oklahoma State last weekend. We happen to think UCA can hang with the Golden Hurricane. Not win, mind you. But the Bears will at least make it interesting Saturday night.
UAPB 30, Clark Atlanta 21 — UAPB lost its first two games of the season to UTEP and Alabama State. The Golden Lions have had two weeks to prepare for a Division II opponent, Clark Atlanta University of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. It’s a big venue as the two schools take part Saturday afternoon in the Gateway Classic at the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis. Clark Atlanta was 3-7 a year ago. The Panthers have started this season 2-1 with wins over Lane College and Miles College sandwiched around a loss to Albany State. The Golden Lions, with more scholarships and more talent, should pick up their first win of the season in the shadow of the Arch.
UAM 42, Arkansas Tech 35 — With more than 20 seniors, including talented quarterback Scott Buisson, this has the makings of the best UAM team in years. By Steve Mullins’ standards, the Tech program is down this fall. The Wonder Boys had an eight-game home winning streak broken in a big way last Saturday as Henderson rolled to an easy 45-21 victory in Russellville. It should be a bit of a track meet at Monticello (both defenses are suspect) Saturday night. UAM has the upper hand.
Ouachita 34, Harding 28 — Ouachita should be 3-0 but, as noted, turnovers (and penalties) made the difference in a close loss to UAM. The Tigers were listless in a loss to Harding a year ago. It will be interesting to see if the 2-1 Tigers show a bit more life this time against the 1-1 Bisons.
Henderson 27, Delta State 21 — This is a very good Reddie team, as evidenced by the big win in Russellville. In that game, Henderson quarterback Nick Hardesty completed 35 of 53 passes for 521 yards and five touchdowns. It was the fifth-highest passing total in Gulf South Conference history. Hardesty became only the seventh GSC passer to throw for more than 500 yards in a game. The 2-1 Reddies face a 2-1 Delta State team in Cleveland, Miss., that has lost to Jackson State, defeated Arkansas Tech and defeated then No. 20 Valdosta State. The road win last weekend vaulted Delta State to No. 23 in the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll. Henderson opened the season by routing Southeastern Oklahoma and then played relatively well in a 27-10 loss to No. 3 North Alabama on the road. It’s hard to believe the Reddies aren’t getting any votes for the Top 25. They’ll get votes after defeating Delta.
Valdosta State 19, Southern Arkansas 10 — The 0-3 Muleriders are in the middle of one tough stretch. After being shut out 20-0 at Harding to start the season, they’ve had to travel to Division I-AA Texas State and to North Alabama (which might as well be Division I since Terry Bowden has 26 Division I transfers). The Muleriders lost 31-17 to Texas State and 48-6 to North Alabama. Valdosta started the season with wins over Wingate and Newberry before losing 27-23 to Delta State at home.