College football: Week 5

The Arkansas Razorbacks have lost three consecutive games — one in each of their three “home” stadiums.

In honor of the social media crowd out there in Hogland, let’s just blame all three losses — one at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, one at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville and one at AT&T Stadium deep in the heart of Texas (or at least in north Texas, the state that the University of Arkansas loves to cater to these days) — on War Memorial.

It now appears that Arkansas’ one Little Rock game next year will be against Alcorn State, the same team UAPB takes on in a SWAC game at War Memorial this Saturday.

Who’s next before the contract runs out?

Sewanee?

Oh, well, in a season in which Razorback fans are looking forward to Tennessee-Martin, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

As I drove back to Little Rock after 11 p.m. from my doubleheader football Saturday in Arkadelphia (a beautiful day as far as the weather was concerned and a day that saw the two Arkadelphia schools defeat two Oklahoma schools by a combined score of 88-13; there’s no place I would have rather been), I listened to KABZ-FM, 103.7, as Hog fans called in following the overtime loss to Texas A&M.

Some sounded almost suicidal.

I also listened to a clip of a postgame interview in which poor ol’ Brandon Allen said “it’s on me” about six times.

We get it. Brandon. It’s on you.

Actually, it’s on a lot of folks.

It’s on those who committed 11 penalties for 93 yards, some of them coming at crucial times in the game.

It’s on a “we can’t get it done at the end” mindset that has seen Arkansas lose a lead in the fourth quarter eight times in the Bret Bielema era and for the seventh time in the past nine Southeastern Conference losses.

Since 2013, Arkansas is 0-9 in games decided by seven points or less. No wonder those radio callers sounded suicidal.

Before we get to the picks this week, a note to football fans: If you like the college game, you owe it to yourself to be in Arkadelphia on Saturday.

Harding (4-0 and ranked 12th nationally in NCAA Division II) will play Ouachita (3-1 and ranked 24th nationally) at 11 a.m. at Cliff Harris Stadium.

Arkansas Tech (4-0) will then play Henderson (3-1) at 2 p.m. at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium on the other side of U.S. Highway 67.

Those are the four college teams with the best records in the state of Arkansas right now. They’re a combined 14-2, and you can see all four of them in the same day.

Not only that, you can park your car in one place and walk to both stadiums. There’s nothing else in America quite like it.

And you will still be able to get home in time to watch the Arkansas-Tennessee game Saturday night.

The Great American Conference came into existence in 2011, and the football title has never been outside of Arkadelphia. Ouachita won it in 2011 and 2014. Henderson won it in 2012 and 2013. Now, Tech and Harding are trying to change that.

Tech has a quarterback who transferred from the University of Alabama at Birmingham when UAB dropped its program. This is his fourth school — he played two seasons at Southern Mississippi and then transferred to Alabama State before transferring to UAB. He’s 6-3, 240 pounds, and he appears to be the real deal. A Division I transfer at quarterback can make a big difference in Division II. Ouachita learned that last year when former Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier decided to play his final season as a Tiger. Ouachita went undefeated in the regular season. Tech had a solid defense last year. With Favor now leading the offense, all of the pieces may have come together.

Harding, meanwhile, was one play away from an undefeated regular season in 2014. The Bisons lost in overtime to Ouachita when Frazier drove the Tigers (who were trailing by eight points) down the field in the final minute of play. Frazier threw a touchdown pass on the last play of regulation and then scrambled in for the two-point conversion to send it to overtime. Harding fumbled in the first overtime, and Ouachita won on a field goal. The Bisons lost 10 starters on offense, but that program appears to have simply reloaded with its run-oriented, option offense.

Ouachita vs. Harding.

Henderson vs. Tech.

Those should be two great games that go a long way toward determining the GAC champion in 2015.

We were 7-1 on the picks last week (we shouldn’t have picked Southern Arkansas to beat Tech, but we still had some doubts about the Wonder Boys, doubts that have now been erased). That makes the record 29-6 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 5. It looks like the most challenging week yet for picking winners:

Tennessee 31, Arkansas 29 — We’re picking Arkansas to lose a conference game by less than seven points. Imagine that. Last week, Aggie quarterback Kyle Allen torched the Arkansas secondary for 358 yards passing. He was 21 of 28 with two touchdowns as Texas A&M’s win streak over Arkansas went to four games. Tennessee has suffered the same type of fourth-quarter frustration as the Razorbacks. Florida (4-0) posted a 28-27 victory over the Volunteers, the 11th consecutive win for a Gator team over a UT team. It took a 63-yard touchdown pass with 1:26 remaining to keep the streak alive. Tennessee twice missed 55-yard field goals to win the game with three seconds remaining. Florida had called a time out the first time. Tennessee has now lost after having had double-digit leads in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma and Florida. These are two teams in search of an identity. We’ll give a slight edge to the home team.

Arkansas State 27, Idaho 24 — Toledo is now 2-0 against teams from the state of Arkansas. The Red Wolves laid an egg on the road Saturday, turning the ball over five times and losing to Toledo by a score of 37-7. For a second consecutive game, ASU was without quarterback Fredi Knighten. Freshman quarterback James Tabary filled in but threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. He also was sacked six times by the 3-0 Rockets. The 1-3 Red Wolves were held to just 209 yards of offense, the lowest total in the Blake Anderson era. Idaho comes to Jonesboro on Saturday. The Vandals also are 1-3. The lone victory was by a score of 41-38 over Wofford. The losses came by scores of 45-28 to Ohio, 59-9 to USC and 44-20 to Georgia Southern. Just as we did on the first pick, we’ll give a slight edge to the home team.

UCA 22, Abilene Christian 17 — It took until the final Saturday of September, but UCA got its first victory of the season with a 49-21 win at Northwestern State of Louisiana. The Bears are 1-2 overall, but they do have a 1-0 Southland Conference record and hope to improve on that in Conway this Saturday night. Bear quarterback Taylor Reed of El Dorado left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. Hayden Hildebrand, a sophomore from Bossier City, came in and went 12 of 16 through the air for 201 yards and three touchdowns. UCA had 521 yards of offense against 0-4 Northwestern. Abilene Christian is 2-1. The season started with a 34-13 loss at Fresno State and has been followed by wins of 49-21 over Houston Baptist and 35-32 over Stephen F. Austin.

Alcorn State 28, UAPB 10 — The Golden Lions are 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the SWAC after a 28-9 loss at Alabama A&M. UAPB jumped to a 9-0 lead, and De’Angelo Ballard was 20 of 30 passing for 353 yards for the Golden Lions. Alcorn appears to be bringing the superior team to War Memorial Stadium. After a 69-6 loss to Georgia Tech to start the season (one of those “just be sure the check doesn’t bounce” games), Alcorn has posted wins of 31-14 over Alabama State, 55-14 over Mississippi Valley State and 40-7 over Concordia College.

Arkansas Tech 30, Henderson 26 — Arsenio Favor ran for four touchdowns and threw for another in Tech’s 44-21 win over 2-2 Southern Arkansas last Saturday. The Wonder Boys jumped to a 24-0 lead in that game. Favor rushed for 79 yards and was 17 of 23 passing for 224 yards. In Arkadelphia, Henderson shut out a Southwestern Oklahoma team that had scored 108 points the previous two games. The Reddie defense had five interceptions in the 33-0 victory. Henderson has 12 interceptions through four games, more than all of last season. This should be a heck of a game. I’m glad I’ll be there.

Harding 42, Ouachita 32 — Harding stayed undefeated with a 47-21 win over a UAM team that’s now 0-4. The Bisons, with their hard-to-defend double-slot offense, gained 333 yards on the ground while holding the Boll Weevils to just 28 yards rushing. Ouachita, which had seen a 12-game conference winning streak come to an end the previous week at Southwestern Oklahoma, bounced back in a big way. The Tigers defeated Northwestern Oklahoma, 55-13, as two freshmen running backs combined for five rushing touchdowns. Donelle Hoof had three touchdowns on the ground, and Kris Oliver had two rushing touchdowns to go along with one touchdown reception. These are two good offenses. This game has come down to the end in each of the previous two seasons with Harding winning at Arkadelphia in 2013 and Ouachita winning at Searcy last year. I’m glad I’ll also be at this one.

Southern Arkansas 49, Southern Nazarene 19 — The Muleriders began the season with victories over Southwestern Oklahoma and Northwestern Oklahoma before falling to Harding and Arkansas Tech. SAU will get to take out its frustration in Oklahoma this Saturday afternoon against the worst team in the conference, Southern Nazarene. The home team now has a 26-game losing streak.

Oklahoma Baptist 38, UAM 35 — Oklahoma Baptist is the conference’s newest member and is struggling to make the move up to Division II. Both teams are 0-4. Somebody has to win.

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