College football: Week 14

It’s rare for me to pick all of the Arkansas teams to win on the same weekend.

You have to realize that my prediction post each week has nothing to do with the teams I want to win. The posts have everything to do with the teams I think will win.

I wanted Arkansas and Arkansas State to win.

In this case, I also was confident that they would win.

After all, Arkansas was taking on a 3-8 Missouri team that had just given up 63 points to a mediocre Tennessee squad (which would proceed to lose to Vanderbilt), and Arkansas State was taking its 15-game Sun Belt Conference winning streak up against a Louisiana-Lafayette team that came in with a 4-6 record.

The Hogs and Red Wolves laid eggs.

The Razorback performance was so bad that it has fans across the state questioning the direction of the program while calling for staff changes.

Arkansas State, meanwhile, blew an excellent opportunity for an outright conference title. Now the Red Wolves will wind up sharing the title with Appalachian State (which has completed conference play) if ASU wins at Texas State on Saturday. If Troy also wins on Saturday, it will be a three-way tie for the title.

At least Harding and UCA came through for us in the playoffs as both teams posted wild fourth-quarter comebacks.

That made the record 2-2 for the week and 72-26 for the season.

Here are the picks for this week:

Arkansas State 41, Texas State 29 — The Red Wolves appeared to have won the game at Lafayette on the final play. One official signaled touchdown, causing everyone on the ASU sideline to rush the field. After a review, it was ruled that quarterback Justice Hansen’s knee had touched the ground just before he pitched the ball to an offensive tackle who ran it into the end zone. Blake Anderson, the ASU head coach, still disagrees with that call. The fact remains that the Red Wolves are 6-5 overall and 6-1 in the Sun Belt. Appalachian State and Troy also have just one loss in conference play. Arkansas State should come away with a win this Saturday. The night game will be telecast nationally from San Marcos by ESPN2. Texas State is 0-7 in conference play and 2-9 overall. The wins were over Ohio in overtime, 56-54, in the season opener and over Incarnate Word, an FCS school, by a final score of 48-17. Few of the losses have been close — 42-3 to Arkansas, 64-3 to Houston, 41-21 to Georgia State, 40-34 to Louisiana-Monroe, 27-3 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 35-10 to Appalachian State, 47-14 to Idaho, 50-10 to New Mexico State and 40-7 to Troy.

Eastern Washington 34, UCA 24 — It was quite a comeback for the Bears on the stripes in Conway on a cold Saturday afternoon. UCA was lethargic for three quarters of the FCS playoff game, trailing a 6-5 Illinois State squad by a score of 17-7 going into the final 15 minutes of play. A blocked punt for a touchdown fueled a comeback that ended with a four-yard scoring run by senior Antwon Wells with 1:28 left in the game. The Bears improved to 10-2 with the victory. They must now make the long trip to Eastern Washington to play on the red turf against a 10-1 team that had a bye last week. Eastern Washington’s only loss was to powerhouse North Dakota State, 50-44. Eastern Washington won nonconference games by scores of 45-42 against a good Washington State team that finished the regular season 8-4 and 34-30 against Northern Iowa from the Missouri Valley Conference. The Eagles then went 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference with victories of 50-35 over Northern Arizona, 63-30 over California-Davis, 49-31 over Northern Colorado, 41-17 over Montana State, 35-16 over Montana, 42-21 over Cal Poly, 48-17 over Idaho State and 35-28 over Portland State.

Northwest Missouri State 31, Harding 21 — It has been a remarkable final campaign for Harding head coach Ronnie Huckeba, who announced before the season that he would retire at the end of this year. The Bisons appeared down and out against Sioux Falls in South Dakota last Saturday afternoon, trailing by 10 points with less than five minutes remaining. Harding scored a touchdown with 4:17 left. A 47-yard field goal by Tristan Parsley with 12 seconds remaining in regulation (11 yards longer than anything he had kicked during the regular season) sent the game to overtime. The Harding defense then came up with an interception in overtime, and Parsley won it with a 35-yard field goal. The 13-0 Bisons became the first Great American Conference team to win a second-round game in the NCAA Division II playoffs. The bad news is that they now must visit the No. 1 team in the country, the defending national champions from Northwest Missouri State. Northwest Missouri, which is 12-0, defeated No. 9 Emporia State, 44-13, in last week’s playoff game. Last year, Northwest Missouri routed Shepherd by a final score of 34-7 in the national championship game to cap a 15-0 campaign. The Bearcats went 15-0 in 2013 to win the national title and also won titles in 2009 with a 14-1 record, in 1999 with a 14-1 record and in 1998 with a 15-0 record. Northwest Missouri advanced to the championship game in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 and lost each time. But it’s pretty impressive that this program has had teams in nine of the past 18 title games.

 

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