College football: Week 3

I almost nailed the final score of Arkansas’ game at TCU.

I had it 40-38 in last week’s post.

It was 41-38.

The problem: I had the wrong team winning.

I ended last week’s prediction summary by writing that “it should be an entertaining game.”

That was an understatement.

My youngest son who was there (I was off broadcasting another college game in Oklahoma) told me that it was “one of the best college games I’ve ever seen.”

Granted, he’s only 19. Most of us have seen a lot more college football. But that doesn’t take away from one of the defining victories thus far in the Bret Bielema era. The Razorbacks ended a 14-game home winning streak for the Frogs, the third longest such streak in the country.

Yes, it was the sixth consecutive victory for Arkansas at Amon Carter Stadium, but this is not your father’s old Southwest Conference version of TCU. This is a talented team that Arkansas beat on Saturday night.

Consider the fact that in its last three true road games, Arkansas has won at No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 9 LSU and No. 15 TCU.

Call them the Road Hogs.

This was, by the way, the fifth victory by an unranked Arkansas team over a ranked opponent since the start of the 2014 season. It was the first time for Arkansas to face a ranked nonconference opponent since 2008.

After a stellar 9-1 record in Week 1, we took a beating in Week 2, going 5-5.

Lessons learned:

— Don’t underestimate Arkansas on the road.

— Pick against UAPB (even when playing a mediocre NCAA Division II team at home) until the Golden Lions win a game or two.

— The Great American Conference is going to be wild this year. There were three upsets in Week 2 with Southeastern Oklahoma beating Ouachita, Oklahoma Baptist upsetting Arkansas Tech and UAM defeating Southwestern Oklahoma.

Thus we’re 14-6 on the season.

Let’s get to the picks for Week 3:

Arkansas 45, Texas State 20 — Louisiana Tech put a scare into Arkansas in Week 1 at Fayetteville. Don’t expect a scare this week from a Sun Belt Conference team that has just one game under its belt in 2016, a 56-54 victory over Ohio in overtime. Texas State is my wife’s alma mater. I’m letting her know that the Bobcats are just coming to our state for that $1 million check. The game should give quarterback Austin Allen a chance to continue to improve. When was the last time an Arkansas quarterback threw a touchdown pass, caught a pass for a score (albeit a two-point conversion) and ran for a touchdown in the same game? Allen was 17 of 29 passing for 223 yards and three touchdowns against the Horned Frogs. Rawleigh Williams also should continue to improve after carrying the ball 28 times for 137 yards against the Frogs. And, heck, Dan Skipper might as well block another field goal attempt while he’s at it.

Utah State 37, Arkansas State 34 — It has been a rough start for the Red Wolves. On Friday, Sept. 2, they were whipped in every phase of the game against Toledo in a 31-10 loss at Jonesboro. Eight days later, they went to Auburn and fell by a final score of 51-14. Despite playing substitutes for part of the second half, Auburn finished with 707 yards of offense. Rushing accounted for 462 of those yards. It was the most yardage ever given up by a Blake Anderson-coached team. ASU plays another one of those awful Friday night games this week (Fridays should be reserved for high school football) with a long road trip to Utah State, which beat Weber State by a score of 46-6 to start the season and then fell 45-7 to USC in Los Angeles. The game, which will be televised nationally by the CBS Sports Network, will feature a Utah State team that has won 24 of its last 27 home games, including 13 of its last 16 against nonconference competition. The last time ASU went to Logan, Utah State won, 49-0. It should be much closer this time around despite the recent Red Wolf struggles.

Alcorn State 29, UAPB 13 — It appears as if it’s going to be a long year for the Golden Lions. They lost their opener, 44-0, to Tennessee State at Nashville and then came home last weekend and lost again. This time the defeat was at the hands of a Division II school (Panhandle State of Oklahoma) and not a very strong one at that. Panhandle State had lost 59-21 the previous week to Sam Houston State. Alcorn’s first game of the season against Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach was called off due to severe weather. Alcorn (which will play Arkansas at War Memorial Stadium on Oct. 1) is 1-0 following a 21-18 victory last week over Alabama State. We’ll go with the home team in this Thursday night game at Lorman, Miss.

UCA 28, Northwestern State 25 — The Bears are 1-1 following a 35-29 loss to Samford in Conway on Saturday night. It was a far cry from the 56-13 UCA home victory the previous weekend over Southland Conference foe Houston Baptist. The Bears play a third consecutive home game this week. The opponent Saturday is Northwestern State of Louisiana. Samford returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns, building a 25-point lead by the third quarter. The Bears pulled back within six points with 2:11 left, but Samford then recovered an onside kick. Northwestern has opened the season with losses of 55-7 to Baylor and 21-18 to Incarnate Word.

Henderson 40, Northwestern Oklahoma 22 — This is the first half of an Arkadelphia doubleheader on Saturday that sees Henderson play in the afternoon and Ouachita play on the other side of U.S. Highway 67 at night. The Reddies struggled at home two weeks ago to beat a good Southeastern Oklahoma team, 13-11, and then went on the road to Ada, Okla., and rolled to a 34-7 victory over East Central Oklahoma. The Reddies led 27-0 at halftime. It was the 500th victory in school history. Jaquan Cole and Andrew Black each had two rushing touchdowns for Henderson. Northwestern Oklahoma kicked a field goal with four seconds left for a 59-56 win over UAM in the season opener but found the going much tougher in Magnolia a week later, losing 33-14 to Southern Arkansas.

Ouachita 41, Southwestern Oklahoma 35 — It’s not often that a team has 545 yards of offense and loses. That’s just what Ouachita did on Saturday night in Durant, Okla., as turnovers resulted in a disastrous second quarter in which the Tigers were outscored 24-0. Ouachita dominated the other three quarters, but it wasn’t enough, resulting in a 45-38 loss to Southeastern Oklahoma. Southwestern Oklahoma, this week’s opponent in Arkadelphia, jumped out to a 17-0 lead in its season opener against Southern Arkansas but wound up losing by four points, 21-17. The lingering effects of that collapse were apparent in Monticello last Saturday night as the Boll Weevils secured a 35-28 upset victory. This should be a high-scoring affair since both defenses have had their problems.

Harding 33, Southern Arkansas 27 — This is by far the game of the week in the GAC. Southern Arkansas is 2-0 with those wins over Southwestern Oklahoma and Northwestern Oklahoma. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over Northwestern. While SAU likes to throw the football, Harding runs (and runs and runs) out of its double-slot offense. The Bisons opened the season with 389 yards rushing in a 38-7 victory over Oklahoma Baptist at home. They then traveled to Oklahoma City for the second game of the season and had 478 yards of rushing on 72 carries in a 63-7 thrashing of Southern Nazarene. The winner of this game will join Henderson as an early favorite to capture the GAC championship.

Arkansas Tech 39, UAM 26 — Tech began its season with a 46-0 win in Russellville over Southern Nazarene. The Wonder Boys, who finished 9-3 last year with a victory over Eastern New Mexico in the Heart of Texas Bowl, had high hopes for 2016. That’s what made last Saturday’s 19-15 loss to Oklahoma Baptist (which was picked 10th out of 12 GAC teams in the coaches’ preseason poll) in Shawnee so shocking. That’s the same Oklahoma Baptist team that lost by 31 points to Harding in Week 1. UAM’s win over Southwestern Oklahoma was almost as surprising. The Wonder Boys might not be as good as we first thought. And the Boll Weevils might be better than we first thought.

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