College football: Week 7

It was ugly, wasn’t it?

Arkansas lost for a ninth consecutive time to Florida. As much as Razorback fans would like for the situation to be otherwise, the Arkansas program has just never been close to the level of Florida since joining the Southeastern Conference more than two decades ago.

The Hogs are 0-4 in games played at Gainesville and never had much of a chance last Saturday as Brandon Allen was a paltry 17 of 42 passing for 165 yards. Meanwhile, the Arkansas defense has yet to come up with a turnover in two SEC games.

When did Arkansas last beat Florida?

Try the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston. That’s so long ago that a guy named David Bazzel (hint, hint, he turns 50 Sunday) was playing for the Razorbacks.

Bright spots?

Well, Zach Hocker is eight for eight on field goal attempts this fall.

Big Dan Skipper, who’s just a freshman, blocked his second field goal of the season.

Those are at least a couple of positive aspects of the game.

Is it time for Razorback fans to panic?

Not really. The new coaching staff has to play with the hand it was dealt, and only the most delusional of fans thought this team would win seven or more games.

For a second consecutive week, we go to the words of Kane Webb, the Arkansas native and former sports journalist who now toils up in Kentucky as the editor of Louisville magazine. Kane has watched the first six games and thinks The Program will be OK, given time.

“The big fella knows how to coach the offensive line,” he says of Bret Bielema. “Let him recruit some SEC-caliber linemen, and we’ll see what Bielema can really do at Arkansas.

“When Jeff Long made his hire, I yawned. Bielema? The guy from Wisconsin? Boring. Sounds like a Northerner hiring a Northerner. I didn’t see anything to get excited about. But the more we see and hear of Bielema, especially in his press conferences immediately following games, the more there is to like. When Bobby Petrino lost, he did a slow boil, pointing out execution mistakes like a professor burning at the idiocy of his pupils. You expected him to lash out: ‘If they would only do what I tell them we would win every game. The morons!’ Petrino was way too smart for his own good when it came to offense — and PR.

“Houston Nutt? Once the salesman shtick wore thin — about midway through year two — he just seemed flat-out defensive and insecure.

“Bielema, on the other hand, is … fine. As if he were prepared for this. As if he knew this would be a tough year. As if he understands that all these games are teaching moments for his players, who he and the staff are still getting to know, after all.

“This season won’t be easy, and Razorback fans won’t be happy. But it will be fine. This might be the first time in a long time in which fans can look down the road — and recognize the driver.”

We were 5-2 on the picks last week, making the record 38-8 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 7:

South Carolina 34, Arkansas 24 — This South Carolina team, which is 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC, has had some of its own problems. It barely held off a woeful Kentucky team last week, 35-28. South Carolina has 14 consecutive home wins, the third longest streak of its kind in the country behind Michigan and Georgia. But this game isn’t in the Palmetto State. It’s in Fayetteville. And that means Arkansas has a chance.

Arkansas State 42, Idaho 33 — Paul Petrino brings his 1-5 Idaho squad to Jonesboro on Saturday to face an Arkansas State team that’s 2-3 in its first year under Bryan Harsin. The Red Wolves had an open date last week and needed it following losses of 31-7 to Memphis and 41-19 to Missouri. It’s the first time in three seasons that ASU has lost back-to-back games. ASU should run up some points Saturday against a team that gave up 731 yards in a 61-14 loss to Fresno State. The Vandals’ only victory has come against Temple.

UCA 47, Nebraska-Kearney 20 — UCA was embarrassed at home last weekend in a 59-28 loss to McNeese State. Like ASU, the Bears find themselves 2-3 overall after having come into the season with high expectations.  The loss to McNeese ended a 13-game home winning streak for the Bears, who had last lost in Conway in November 2010. It was the first UCA loss at home since the purple-and-gray turf was installed in 2011. It was also the most points allowed by UCA in a home game in Clint Conque’s 14 seasons as head coach. UCA should have a chance to get well quickly Saturday afternoon in a nonconference game against a Nebraska-Kearney team that comes to Conway with a 1-4 record. Nebraska-Kearney is an NCAA Division II school.

UAPB 19, Texas Southern 17 — Something has to give Saturday night in Pine Bluff. UAPB is 0-5. Texas Southern is 0-5. UAPB, the defending SWAC champion, fell to 0-3 in conference play last Saturday with a 43-33 loss at Jackson State. It was a rematch of last year’s conference championship game. This is UAPB’s worst start since losing seven consecutive games in Monte Coleman’s first season in 2008. Texas Southern has lost its five games by scores of 37-13 to Prairie View A&M, 55-17 to Sam Houston State, 35-7 to Jackson State, 12-10 to Alabama A&M and 34-2 to Alabama State. Let’s give the advantage to the Golden Lions since they’re home.

Henderson 49, Southwestern Oklahoma 20 — There are only two undefeated college teams left in Arkansas, and they’re both in Arkadelphia. This is one of those fun Saturdays when you can park your car and see parts of two college games. Ouachita kicks off at 1 p.m. Henderson kicks off across the highway at 3 p.m. The Reddies, still ranked No. 8 in NCAA Division II, went to 5-0 last Saturday with a 42-0 victory at Northwestern Oklahoma. Henderson was held to a season-low 374 yards of offense, but it didn’t matter against 0-5 Northwestern as the Reddie defense pitched the shutout. It was the 17th consecutive regular-season victory for the Reddies. The 3-2 Southwestern Oklahoma team that comes to Arkadelphia on Saturday is much better than Northwestern, but the Bulldogs should prove no match for the Reddies.

Ouachita 40, Northwestern Oklahoma 13 — Ouachita went to 4-0 last Saturday with an impressive 31-14 road victory at Southwestern Oklahoma. Ouachita’s defense held Southwestern to just 133 total yards. Southwestern has a senior quarterback with more than 7,000 yards passing in his career, but the Tigers held him to 39 yards through the air. If Ouachita takes care of business against winless Northwestern, it will set the stage for a showdown against Harding the following week at Arkadelphia’s A.U. Williams Field.

Harding 35, UAM 21 — The is a vastly improved UAM team compared with the one that went 1-10 a year ago. The Boll Weevils are 3-2 following a 34-0 thrashing of Arkansas Tech in which three UAM quarterbacks saw action. The CBS Sports Network was in Magnolia last Thursday for a nationally televised game. Excitement was at a fever pitch on the Southern Arkansas campus, but Harding rolled in from Searcy and posted a 28-14 victory. Bison junior fullback Romo Westbrook had a career-high 21 carries for 171 yards. Harding, which has won three consecutive games after being upset by Southwestern Oklahoma in the opener, had 425 rushing yards in that game. The Bisons lead NCAA Division II in rushing.

Southern Arkansas 27, Arkansas Tech 16 — SAU fell to 3-2 with the loss to Harding and, in all reality, fell out of the running for the GAC title. Now, the Muleriders will try to run the table and get an invitation to that new bowl game in Texarkana. The quest starts Saturday in Russellville against an Arkansas Tech team that’s 2-3 in its first year under head coach Raymond Monica.

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