It’s the week of the Battle of the Ravine, the most unique rivalry in all of college football.
Ouachita Baptist University vs. Henderson State University.
The game will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ouachita’s A.U. Williams Field in Arkadelphia.
If you’ve never been to one of these games, you owe it to yourself to attend.
Remember, it was on my Arkansas bucket list.
Larry Lacewell told me recently, “That was among the things I always wanted to go to. I never did it because I was coaching all those years. Last year, I picked up the paper, saw that it was Battle of the Ravine day and drove to Arkadelphia. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”
The weather should be nice Saturday. And the 1 p.m. kickoff allows even those who live in Little Rock to be back home in time to watch the 5 p.m. Arkansas-Tennessee game on television.
Get there early. There will be a large tailgate party with all kinds of food available. The party will begin at 10 a.m. on the Henderson side of U.S. Highway 67.
You can park on either the Henderson side or the Ouachita side and walk to the game.
At about 11:45 a.m., the Henderson Reddies will walk to a road game.
Think about that for a moment.
Not fly. Not bus.
This is a college football rivalry in which the visiting team simply walks across the street.
It’s something every college football fan should see.
Also consider that the two schools have played each other in football 84 times through the years and the series is dead even at 39-39-6.
Dead even for a series that began in 1895: Isn’t that amazing?
The game has been decided by a touchdown or less 37 times through the years with Ouachita holding a 19-12-6 advantage in the close games.
Add to all of the tradition the fact that these are the two best Division II football teams in Arkansas this year.
Ouachita has already wrapped up the first Great American Conference title with records of 7-2 overall and 6-0 in conference play. Henderson would love nothing more than to cost the Tigers a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs.
The series was suspended due to excessive vandalism from 1951 until 1963. I grew up about a block from A.U. Williams Field. I lived in Washington, D.C., for a few years in the 1980s, but I’ve only missed three of these games since the series resumed in 1963 when I was 4 years old. The teams didn’t play in 1993-95 when the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference disbanded and they went their separate ways. They also didn’t play in 2004-05 because of ridiculous scheduling by the Gulf South Conference (so glad to be out of that league). That means this will be my 41st Battle of the Ravine.
I hope you’ll join me in Arkadelphia on Saturday. You won’t regret it.
We were 7-2 on picks last week, making the record 66-18 for the season.
On to the picks for Week 11:
Arkansas 44, Tennessee 21 — The Hogs looked much better at home against South Carolina than they had looked in victories on the road at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Poor Tennessee. This once-proud program finds itself without a victory in Southeastern Conference play. How bad has it gotten in Knoxville? Consider this: The starting kicker injured his leg in practice on Thursday of last week. The backup kicker pulled a muscle while warming up Saturday. Coach Derek Dooley had a nose guard practicing kicks while he made a call on his cell phone to the campus police. He asked the police to escort a redshirt freshman kicker named Derrick Brodus from his fraternity house to Neyland Stadium. That led to this great quote from Dooley: “It’s a good thing he wasn’t having too much fun on a Saturday afternoon. I told the coaches an intoxicated Brodus is better than nobody. Just get him here.”
Ouachita 31, Henderson 30 — This game should be close. This will only be Ouachita’s fourth home game of the season. The Tigers went on the road six times in an eight-week period and compiled a record of 5-1 in those six road games. They only lost at Delta State, the No. 1 team in NCAA Division II. Ouachita is the only college program at any level in the state to have compiled four consecutive winning seasons. The Tigers defeated Southeastern Oklahoma, 21-18, in Durant, Okla., last Saturday to secure the GAC crown. Henderson, meanwhile, posted a 16-10 nonconference victory over McKendree.
Arkansas State 32, Louisiana-Lafayette 28 — This is a huge game for the Red Wolves as they seek to win a Sun Belt Conference championship in the first year of the Hugh Freeze era. ASU is still alone atop the conference standings following a 39-21 win at Florida Atlantic. The Red Wolves are 7-2 overall and 5-0 in conference play. That’s the best start for an Arkansas State team since 1986. Louisiana-Lafayette comes to Jonesboro with records of 8-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play. ASU quarterback Ryan Aplin was 24 of 27 passing last Saturday for 244 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, the Ragin’ Cajuns scored two touchdowns in the final minutes of Saturday’s home finale for a 36-35 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Louisiana-Lafayette scored a touchdown with 2:05 left, recovered an onside kick and then scored again. The home crowd in Jonesboro (Hugh has them believing in northeast Arkansas) on Saturday afternoon should help the Red Wolves.
UCA 27, Texas State 24 — The Bears end the regular season with an important nonconference game against Texas State, a former Southland Conference opponent that’s moving up to the WAC. The game is important because the Bears need to win Saturday to be eligible for the playoffs. It would have to be an at-large berth, though, since Sam Houston State clinched the Southland Conference’s automatic berth last Saturday. Sam Houston would need to lose to Northwestern State this weekend for the Bears to win a share of the conference title. UCA won its sixth consecutive game last Saturday, 45-20 over Northwestern State. Texas State is 6-4. The wins have come by scores of 38-28 over Tarleton State, 35-26 over Stephen F. Austin, 38-12 over Nicholls, 21-14 over McNeese State, 46-21 over Lamar and 34-26 over Prairie View A&M. The losses have come by scores of 50-10 to Texas Tech, 45-10 to Wyoming, 38-28 to Southeastern Louisiana and 23-10 to Northwestern State.
UAPB 21, Mississippi Valley State 19 — The Golden Lions are still hurting from the many suspensions that came as a result of the brawl that followed the Oct. 15 win over Southern University. UAPB fell 28-12 to Alabama State last Saturday before a big homecoming crowd in Pine Bluff. UAPB is now 4-5 overall and 3-4 in the SWAC. Even with more suspensions that must be served this week, the Golden Lions should be able to overcome a dreadful Mississippi Valley State team that’s 1-9 The Delta Devils snapped a 19-game losing streak with a 12-9 win over Texas Southern two weeks ago but lost last weekend by a score of 35-3 to South Alabama.
East Central Oklahoma 44, Southern Arkansas 40 — The Muleriders are 3-6 overall and 2-3 in GAC play, but they’re playing better down the stretch. Last week, they defeated UAM, 53-28, in Magnolia while gaining 522 yards of offense. They should be competitive against an East Central team that’s 7-3 overall and 5-2 in GAC play.
Harding 37, Southeastern Oklahoma 28 — Harding fell to 3-7 overall and 2-3 in the GAC with a 23-16 overtime loss to East Central. Eddy Carmona did have a Harding school-record field goal of 62 yards in that game. A disappointing season for the Bisons should end on an upbeat note in Searcy with a win over a Southeastern Oklahoma team that started the season with two consecutive victories but has since lost seven straight games.
UAM 29, Southwestern Oklahoma 20 — The first year of the Hud Jackson era ends in Monticello with a victory over Southwestern Oklahoma. Both teams have been up and down this year in the highly balanced GAC. UAM fell to 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the conference action with its loss to Southern Arkansas. Southwestern Oklahoma is 5-5 overall and 3-4 in conference play.