I went 7-1 in the first full week of college football. And it should have been 8-0.
I knew better than to pick UAPB to beat UAM. For gosh sakes, I’m the biggest proponent of the Gulf South Conference. I write stories about the conference for Arkansas Sports 360 and did a radio show for several years on GSC football. The GSC is to NCAA Division II what the SEC is to NCAA Division I. It’s not unusual for a GSC team to step up and beat a Division I-AA team.
I knew the Boll Weevils had talent. But I had real questions about team unity following a 45-16 UAM loss at Tarleton State. I also thought UAPB would be better in its second year under Monte Coleman. Apparently, the Golden Lions aren’t better. UAPB led 3-0 at the half at home last Saturday, but UAM scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to win in a rout and keep me from going 8-0. Hats off to the Weevils.
I guess you also would have to describe my beloved Ouachita Tigers’ 52-6 win over Texas College as an upset since The Associated Press in Little Rock picked the NAIA Steers over Ouachita. Noah?
With the Razorbacks and the UCA Bears open this weekend, the focus falls on Arkansas State’s trip to Nebraska. Steve Roberts, whose team shocked Texas A&M on the road last year, has perhaps his most talented team ever in Jonesboro. By the way, Roberts will be the speaker Monday at the Little Rock Touchdown Club at the Embassy Suites. We begin serving lunch at 11 a.m., and the program begins at noon.
Let’s go to the predictions:
Nebraska 40, ASU 28 — Nebraska opened the season with a 49-3 win over Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt Conference. The Red Wolves will represent the Sun Belt much better this Saturday in Lincoln before finally wearing down in the fourth quarter.
UAPB 21, Langston 20 — I should know better than picking the Golden Lions. Langston is 2-0 after wins of 43-0 over something called New Mexico Prep and 31-6 over Lincoln University in Missouri. But Langston is an NAIA school, a member of the Central States Football League. That conference consists of six NAIA schools from Texas and Oklahoma. An NCAA Division I-AA team should always beat an NAIA team. Shouldn’t it? So why do I not feel good about this pick?
Delta State 38, UAM 34 — Which is the real UAM team? The one that stunk at Tarleton State or the one that rolled in the second half at Pine Bluff? Delta State is ranked 10th nationally in NCAA Division II. The Statesmen were upset by Texas A&-M at Kingsville in their first game but have had two weeks to prepare for their trip to Monticello. It should be a fun game to watch. If I weren’t in Georgia on Saturday, I would be at the Cotton Boll.
Arkansas Tech 35, West Alabama 29 — The Wonder Boys are 2-0 after wins over Northeastern State from Oklahoma and Incarnate Word from the Holy Land. West Alabama is 2-0 after wins over Belhaven and Harding. The Thursday night GSC television game of the week should be fun. We think Steve Mullins’ Wonder Boys will get it done on the road.
Southwest Baptist 22, Harding 21 — Harding won its home opener 17-15 over Missouri Southern but struggled in a 33-19 loss at West Alabama last week. Again, it’s a question of which team shows up.
North Alabama 46, Henderson 30 — The Reddies have also been two different teams. They lost their opener, 54-38, to Southeastern State of Oklahoma before coming on strong last week. The Reddies had traditional NCAA Division I-AA power McNeese State on the ropes in Lake Charles before losing last Saturday, 27-24. Terry Bowden is back in coaching, though, and North Alabama is loaded. The team even includes a number of transfers that Papa Bobby sent from Florida State. North Alabama is ranked No. 3 nationally this week in NCAA Division II. You might want to go to Arkadelphia to watch this one. Kickoff time is 6 p.m.
Ouachita 35, West Georgia 27 — Ouachita, as noted, is 1-0. Going back to the middle of last season, Todd Knight’s Tigers have won six straight games. West Georgia is 0-2 after losses to Wingate and Lambuth. But the Wolves should play Ouachita well in the first conference game ever played in their new multimillion-dollar stadium.
Valdosta State 47, Southern Arkansas 24 — Valdosta State is ranked No. 18 in NCAA Division II after having been upset, 31-24, by Newberry in the opener. Southern Arkansas lost its opener, 41-9, to North Alabama. It’s brutal for Bill Keopple to have to open his career as head coach with back-to-back games against North Alabama and Valdosta State. Keopple will get things turned around in Magnolia, but it will take time.