I had my first bad run of predictions last week, going 3-4. Yes, I knew it would be a high-scoring game in Fayetteville. I knew the two defenses weren’t very good. I just didn’t think there would be that many points scored. I thought the defenses would be better than that, especially the Arkansas defense. I won’t make the mistake of picking the Hogs again this week.
Offensively, the future is bright for Arkansas. The quarterback is a sophomore. He completed the first four of his five touchdown passes to sophomores. But defense? That’s another story. And you must have a solid defense to win the SEC. This is not Conference USA where you just outscore people.
I also incorrectly picked Mississippi Valley State to beat UAPB in Itta Bena, based largely on the Golden Lions’ terrible performance in that 27-3 season-opening loss to Division II UAM. It’s the only victory thus far for the 1-3 Boll Weevils. Coach Monte Coleman had his team ready for the SWAC opener. Things get tougher this week with a trip to Alabama A&M.
Frankly, I was delighted to miss two Gulf South Conference picks. Ouachita was 0-9 in school history against Valdosta State. Valdosta is Division II royalty, having won two of the previous five national championships. We often say that the GSC is the SEC of Division II. Well, this was like Vanderbilt beating Florida when Ouachita beat Valdosta. And it was not a fluke. Ouachita won by 10 points, and it should have been worse since the Tigers missed two short field goals.
After a brutal start against North Alabama and Valdosta State, the Muleriders of Southern Arkansas got their first win in the Bill Keopple era with a five-overtime victory over previously undefeated West Alabama in the Thursday night GSC television game of the week. That was a big confidence booster for the Muleriders. They’re on television again this Thursday night at they travel to Arkadelphia to take on Henderson.
Here are the picks:
Alabama 35, Arkansas 29 — The Razorbacks will play well in Tuscaloosa. They will score some points against one of the nation’s best defenses. However, they don’t have the talent on defense to upset the Crimson Tide. With the cupboard stocked on offense, expect a focus when it comes to recruiting on better defensive players. And expect a new defensive coordinator for 2010.
Arkansas State 24, Troy 21 — The Red Wolves have been on both ends of the college football spectrum in their first two games — an easy home win over Mississippi Valley State and a tough trip to Nebraska. Now, it’s time to begin Sun Belt Conference play. And wouldn’t you know the first conference game would be against a traditional Sun Belt power. The game is in Jonesboro. ASU has the best quarterback and the best running back in the conference. The winner will be the favorite to capture the conference title and go to the New Orleans Bowl. This is an early season showdown, and our money is on the Red Wolves in a close one.
UCA 49, Glenville State 19 — This contest against a Division II opponent was added to the schedule late to give the Bears six home games. Glenville State, a school from West Virginia, is 2-2 after a 50-37 loss to Fairmont State. UCA came oh so close to knocking off Hawaii, had a week off and then picked up the school’s first win over a Division I-A opponent with a 28-7 whipping of Western Kentucky. UCA is now No. 12 in both of the Division I-AA national polls. And the Bears get to enjoy four of their next five games at home.
Alabama A&M 37, UAPB 21 — The Golden Lions have played better the past two weeks in wins over NAIA Langston and SWAC opponent Mississippi Valley State. Alabama A&M opened its season with wins over Tennessee State and Hampton. That was followed last week by a 45-13 loss to Jack Crowe’s Jacksonville State team. Alabama A&M gets back on track this Saturday afternoon in Huntsville.
Delta State 31, Ouachita 30 — OK, I picked against my Tigers last week and they beat the No. 16 team in the country. I’m superstitious. What can I say? If I pick against them again, maybe they will pull another upset. Ouachita is no fluke. The Tigers have won eight straight games dating back to early October of last year. They have yet to have a turnover in three games. They’ve outscored their three opponents 124-34. They believe. This might be the biggest Division II game in the country this week. Delta State is No. 9 nationally. The Statesmen have won 16 straight times against schools from Arkansas. Ouachita is No. 21, the first time a Ouachita team has ever been ranked in the Division II poll. The last time a Ouachita team was ranked, the school was in the NAIA. This should be fun. See you in Arkadelphia on Saturday night.
Henderson 27, Southern Arkansas 24 — Both teams picked up their first victories of the season last weekend. SAU won that five-overtime contest over a West Alabama team that had come in 3-0, and Henderson outlasted UAM by a score of 35-33 in a game that was moved to Arkadelphia because of problems with the light poles in Monticello. Give a 1-3 Henderson club the edge over the 1-2 Muleriders in this Thursday night game as the Reddies play for a second straight week at home.
Arkansas Tech 36, UAM 30 — The 1-3 Boll Weevils simply haven’t lived up to expectations. Tech, meanwhile, started the season 2-0 with wins over Northeastern State of Oklahoma and Incarnate Word. The Wonder Boys then dropped a close Thursday night game at West Alabama. They’ve had 16 days to prepare for this one, and they’re at home.
North Alabama 49, Harding 25 — Terry Bowden’s North Alabama team is No. 3 in the country after wins over Southern Arkansas, Carson-Newman, Henderson and West Georgia. The Bisons are 2-2, having been ripped by Delta State last week. Things don’t get any easier this weekend even though the game is in Searcy.