College football: Week 6

Halloween nears. Maybe we have an explanation for that announced attendance of 70,000 in Fayetteville last Saturday.

About 20,000 fans came disguised as empty seats.

Arkansas did what it needed to do in the 42-24 victory over New Mexico State.

Austin Allen passed for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Jonathan Nance had six receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns. The Hogs outrushed the Aggies, 230-11. Arkansas also dominated in time of possession, 41:35 to 18:25.

It had been 30 days since the previous victory so the lack of drama in the second half was nice for Razorback fans after Arkansas had scored on six of its first seven possessions. Now, the bad news: Arkansas must return to Southeastern Conference play. The silver lining there is that at least seven of the 14 teams in the conference are average at best this year.

We limped to a 4-3 record last week, making the record 28-11 for the season.

We’ll start this week with Arkansas State, which has one of those horrible Wednesday night games.

Arkansas State 36, Georgia Southern 20 — The fact that Arkansas State came close at Nebraska in its season opener doesn’t look as good as it did at the time given the Cornhuskers’ struggles. The Red Wolves’ 48-3 win over a weak UAPB team told us nothing, and the 44-21 loss to SMU was discouraging for ASU fans. Fortunately for the Red Wolves, the Sun Belt Conference opener is against a Georgia Southern squad that’s not very good. The home team will come into the Wednesday night affair (which will be shown on ESPN2) with an 0-3 record following losses of 41-7 to Auburn, 22-12 to New Hampshire and 52-17 to Indiana.

South Carolina 31, Arkansas 30 — Two SEC teams in need of a conference victory square off in Columbia on Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks are 3-2 overall and 1-2 in SEC play with wins of 35-28 over North Carolina State, 31-13 over Missouri and 17-16 over Louisiana Tech. The losses have come by scores of 23-13 to Kentucky and 24-17 to Texas A&M. In College Station last Saturday, Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond passed for 159 yards and ran for another 95 as Texas A&M moved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC. With so many questions surrounding both South Carolina and Arkansas, we see this game as a tossup. We’ll give a slight edge to the home team.

UCA 39, Houston Baptist 19 — What a win that was in Conway for UCA on Saturday night. Sam Houston State came to town ranked No. 3 nationally in the FCS and went home with a 41-30 defeat. The Bearkats had won the previous three games in the series. UCA came out on fire, building an 18-point lead in the first half. Sam Houston pulled within four points at 34-30 in the fourth quarter, but UCA took advantage of a dropped snap on a punt. The Bears recovered the ball at the Sam Houston 17 and scored two plays later to put the game away. UCA quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 13 of 25 passing for 294 yards and four touchdowns as his team improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Southland Conference play. The Bears must go on the road this week, but 1-3 Houston Baptist shouldn’t provide much of a challenge. The only HBU victory has been a 24-17 win over Texas Southern from the SWAC. The losses have been by scores of 20-11 to Texas State, 34-3 to Abilene Christian and 27-12 to McNeese.

UAPB 18, Mississippi Valley State 17 — UAPB fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the SWAC with a 27-14 loss at Alabama A&M (2-3, 2-0). This Saturday’s game in Pine Bluff could be a chance to get well against an 0-4 Mississippi Valley State squad that has lost 72-7 to North Dakota State, 55-3 to Southern Illinois, 38-6 to Grambling and 58-7 to Charleston Southern.

Ouachita 38, Harding 34 — Yes, Ouachita is 4-1 and coming off a big win in Russellville Yes, Harding is 2-3, having lost 17 starters and its head coach from a team that went undefeated in the regular season last year. Yes, it’s Ouachita’s homecoming. But games between these two schools haven’t been decided until the final minutes of play for four consecutive seasons (Ouachita has won two, and Harding has won two). There’s no reason to think Saturday’s game will be any different. With so many new starters, Harding began the season 0-3. Don’t be fooled. The Bisons are dangerous, having won two consecutive games. The double-slot offense seemed to be hitting its stride in a 56-46 win over UAM last Saturday as the Bisons rushed for 474 yards and seven touchdowns with two backs topping 100 yards. Harding finished the game with 535 yards of offense.

Arkansas Tech 40, UAM 28 — Tech was flying high coming into its home game against Ouachita with a 4-0 record and a No 11 ranking in NCAA Division II. The Wonder Boys had an eight-point lead and the ball in the fourth quarter but couldn’t put away pesky Ouachita. They wound up losing 35-31. Ouachita’s Drew Harris (the son of Benton High School head coach Brad Harris) ran 34 yards for a touchdown with 7:18 left in the game, but a failed two-point conversion left Ouachita trailing 31-29. The Tigers forced a punt, and Harris scored from four yards out with 1:36 remaining. Tech drove to the Ouachita 18, but a pass into the end zone was tipped away on the game’s final play to leave both teams with a 4-1 record. Tech is a superior team to 2-3 UAM and should get back on track Saturday in Monticello.

Henderson 47, Oklahoma Baptist 21 — It’s hard to figure out this 2-3 Reddie team. Real hard. Henderson has won 28 consecutive road games. Yet the Reddies have lost four consecutive home games dating back to last season’s Battle of the Ravine. Losses in Arkadelphia this year have come to Arkansas Tech, Northwestern Oklahoma and, most surprising of all, a Southern Nazarene team that prior to this season had been the Great American Conference punching bag. No one saw the Reddies’ 42-24 loss to Southern Nazarene coming. There are two pieces of positive news for Henderson this week. This first is that the game is on the road. The second is that the opponent is the worst team in the conference, 0-5 Oklahoma Baptist. Reddies roll.

Southern Arkansas 37, Southern Nazarene 16 — Southern Nazarene is like Henderson in the fact that it wins on the road and loses at home. The Crimson Storm is at home this week. Both SAU and Southern Nazarene are 3-2. The difference is that Nazarene was supposed to have a worse record at this point. And SAU, picked to win the conference in the coaches’ preseason poll, was supposed to have a better record. The Muleriders are coming off a 56-27 victory over hapless Oklahoma Baptist. SAU rolled up 718 yards of offense. Quarterback Barrett Renner was 32 of 41 passing for 405 yards and six touchdowns.

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