Archive for the ‘College football’ Category

College football: Week 9

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

Saturday was a wonderful day for the state of Arkansas. No, the game wasn’t close. We knew it wouldn’t be.

But more than 40,000 Arkansans were able to witness a University of Arkansas football team play an in-state opponent for the first time since 1944. The Hogs are now 38-3-3 all-time against in-state opponents with hopefully an annual game against Arkansas State University occurring in the future. A Labor Day weekend festival celebrating all things Arkansas — music, food and more — with that game as its centerpiece would be good for our state. It’s time.

As it was, having the Razorbacks break the 77-year scheduling drought against an HBCU sent a powerful message of unity. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has been underfunded for years, and its prominent alumni haven’t always received the credit they deserve for helping build this state. Last Saturday’s game was about so much more than football.

As for football, Little Rock games continue to be good for the Razorbacks. Arkansas is 169-69-5 in the capital city through the decades and 152-62-4 at War Memorial Stadium.

The 45-3 victory over UAPB marked the 18th consecutive Razorback victory over an FCS opponent, dating back to that memorable 10-3 loss to the Citadel on Labor Day weekend 1992.

The 5-3 Razorbacks get a well-deserved break this Saturday. It’s a chance to heal up before the SEC stretch run against Mississippi State, LSU, Alabama and Missouri.

I went 6-0 on the picks last week to move to 49-13 for the season. Here are the selections for this Saturday’s games:

South Alabama 34, Arkansas State 32 — ASU fell to 1-6 overall and 1-3 in Sun Belt Conference play last Thursday night in Jonesboro with a 28-27 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin’ Cajuns burned the final 10:26 off the clock with the game-sealing drive. This is the worst seven-game start for an ASU squad since the 2000 team went 1-10. The Red Wolves go to Mobile this Saturday to take on a South Alabama squad that’s 4-3 overall and 3-1 in home games. The victories came by scores of 31-7 over Southern Mississippi, 22-19 over Bowling Green, 28-21 over Alcorn State and 41-14 over Georgia Southern. The losses were by scores of 20-18 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 33-31 to Texas State and 41-31 to Louisiana-Monroe. Look for ASU to hang close with a chance to win at the end.

Jacksonville State 24, UCA 21 — The Bears head to the hills of north Alabama to take on Jacksonville State on Saturday. Jacksonville upset Florida State 20-17 in Tallahassee back on Sept. 11, The Gamecocks’ other two victories were by scores of 27-24 over North Alabama and 28-24 over Stephen F. Austin. Jacksonville State is 3-4 with the losses having come by scores of 31-0 to Alabama-Birmingham, 34-31 to Tennessee-Martin, 31-6 to Kennesaw State and 42-7 to Sam Houston State. The Bears also are 3-4 following a 49-38 victory last Saturday over 2-5 Lamar in Beaumont, Texas. UCA finished with 541 yards of offense, with 350 of it coming on the ground. Darius Hale had 254 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 22 carries. It was the first time for a Bear to have more than 200 yards rushing since 2015.

Texas Southern 14, UAPB 13 — The loss at War Memorial Stadium dropped UAPB to 1-6. The Golden Lions travel to Houston on Saturday to battle a 2-5 Texas Southern team. The two wins were by scores of 69-0 over North American and 35-31 over Southern University. The five losses were by scores of 40-17 to Prairie View A&M, 66-7 to Baylor, 48-34 to Rice, 34-20 to Grambling and 44-27 to Alcorn State.

Henderson 50, Southern Nazarene 19 — The Reddies are in a three-way tie with Ouachita and Harding for the Great American Conference lead. All three are 7-1 with three weeks left in the season. Henderson survived in overtime at Arkansas Tech last Saturday. Tech settled for a field goal on its possession in overtime. Henderson’s Adam Morse then threw a 10-yard touchdown pass for the win, 41-38. Henderson outgained Tech 634-437. More than 500 of those yards — 522 to be exact — came on the ground.

Ouachita 31, East Central Oklahoma 22 — Since having its 30-game GAC winning streak broken by Harding on the final Saturday of September, Ouachita has outscored its next four opponents 170-34. The Tigers beat Southern Arkansas 42-7 last Saturday as T.J. Cole and Kendel Givens had three rushing touchdowns each. Givens, a freshman out of Little Rock Christian, has 19 rushing touchdowns in eight games. Ouachita led the Muleriders 28-7 at halftime and never looked back.

Harding 44, Northwestern Oklahoma 20 — The Bisons moved to 7-1 with all 340 yards of offense coming on the ground in a 64-7 victory over UAM. Harding led the Boll Weevils 37-7 at halftime. Fourteen Bison running backs gained yardage. Harding takes its double-slot option offense to Northwestern Oklahoma this week to battle an opponent that’s 1-7. Harding can pretty much name the score in this one.

Southeastern Oklahoma 39, UAM 30 — Southeastern fell out of a tie for the conference lead when it lost 43-37 to Oklahoma Baptist last Saturday. The Savage Storm is now 6-2 and should bounce back at home in Durant, Okla., against a 4-4 squad of Boll Weevils.

Arkansas Tech 28, Southwestern Oklahoma 26 — The Wonder Boys are just 2-6 but played Henderson well and now get to take on the GAC’s only team without a win, 0-8 Southwestern Oklahoma. Southwestern lost 44-34 to East Central Oklahoma last weekend.

Oklahoma Baptist 40, Southern Arkansas 33 — The loss at Ouachita dropped the Muleriders to 3-5. They’re home in Magnolia this week but must face one of the most talented teams in the league, 5-3 Oklahoma Baptist.


College football: Week 8

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

For Razorback fans, it was a September to remember.

It has been an October to forget.

Auburn’s 38-23 victory before a crowd of 73,370 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium last Saturday dropped the Hogs to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Southeastern Conference following that 4-0 September start.

Arkansas has now lost six consecutive games in the series with Auburn and eight of the past nine. The only SEC team with a longer winning streak over Arkansas is Alabama at 14 games.

Arkansas managed to lose by double digits despite outgaining Auburn 460-427. With 232 rushing yards, the Razorbacks topped 230 yards on the ground for the fifth time this year.

The Hogs were missing three defensive starters due to injury. The good news is that the Razorbacks have three weeks between the Auburn loss and the next SEC game.

I went 4-2 on the picks last week to move to 43-13 for the season. Of those 13 misses, four of them have been Razorback games. I picked them to lose against Texas and Texas A&M. I then turned around and picked Arkansas to win against Ole Miss and Auburn.

Oh well. At least we know how this Saturday’s game at War Memorial Stadium will turn out.

Here are the picks for this week’s games involving Arkansas teams:

Arkansas 64, UAPB 7 — No, the game isn’t going to be close. Who cares? This is history. Arkansas plays an in-state school in football for the first time since 1944. The weather is going to be beautiful. Take some kids to see the Hogs for the first time. Buy them too many hot dogs. Support an HBCU. Enjoy both bands. Take them to the Arkansas State Fair afterward. UAPB fell to 1-5 last Saturday with its fifth consecutive loss, 34-7 to Southern University. The Golden Lions had only 207 yards of offense and committed five turnovers. Again, who cares? You get to watch the UAPB band. You can enjoy barbecue out in War Memorial Park before or after the 11 a.m. kickoff. Have fun.

Louisiana-Lafayette 35, Arkansas State 29 — The Coach Butch Jones era is off to a rough start in Jonesboro. Since beating UCA in the opener Sept. 4, the Red Wolves have lost five consecutive games — 55-50 to Memphis, 52-3 to Washington, 41-34 to Tulsa, 59-33 to Georgia Southern and 52-20 to Coastal Carolina. ASU has had two weeks to prepare for Thursday night’s home game against Louisiana-Lafayette, but it likely won’t matter. Since losing their opener to Texas in Austin, the Ragin’ Cajuns have reeled off five consecutive victories — 27-24 over Nicholls, 49-14 over Ohio, 28-20 over Georgia Southern, 20-18 over South Alabama and 41-13 over Appalachian State.

UCA 31, Lamar 21 — The Bears fell to 2-4 Saturday with a 38-35 loss in Conway to 5-1 Eastern Kentucky. UCA led 28-10 at halftime and then collapsed. A 38-yard field goal attempt with 2:14 left in the game that would have tied the score was blocked. UCA lost despite outgaining its opponent 481-346. Eastern Kentucky didn’t take its first lead until there was just 7:39 left in the game. The Bears go on the road this Saturday and should get well in Beaumont against 2-4 Lamar. The two Lamar victories came by scores of 47-3 against North American and 17-10 against Northern Colorado. The four losses have been by scores of 54-0 to Texas-San Antonio, 56-0 to Abilene Christian, 41-7 to Sam Houston and 24-17 in a second game against Abilene Christian.

Harding 40, UAM 12 — There are four weeks left in the Great American Conference season, and there are four teams tied at the top — Harding, Ouachita, Henderson and Southeastern Oklahoma. They’re all 6-1. This should be a fun final month of GAC football. Harding, which ended Ouachita’s 30-game GAC winning streak on the final Saturday of September, went to Arkadelphia last Saturday and knocked Henderson from the ranks of the undefeated, 46-21. Henderson had come in ranked No. 9 in the country, and Harding was No. 20. Now, Harding is No. 12 and Henderson is No. 20. Harding scored four touchdowns in a 13-minute span at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium to turn a 9-7 lead into a 36-7 advantage in the third quarter. Cole Chancey led the Bisons with 231 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Ouachita 37, Southern Arkansas 27 — Since losing to Harding, No. 7 Ouachita has outscored its next three opponents 128-27. The Tigers had their most complete game of the season in Monticello last Saturday afternoon as they cruised to a 31-0 halftime lead, rested the starters in the second half and wound up winning 34-0. That secured Ouachita’s 13th consecutive winning season. Ouachita is 28-1 in conference games since the start of the 2018 season. T.J. Cole led the Tigers in Monticello with 151 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Tiger defense had five sacks. Three of Ouachita’s final four games are at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia.

Henderson 45, Arkansas Tech 25 — Expect the Reddies to bounce back in a big way at Arkansas Tech on Saturday afternoon. The Wonder Boys are 2-5 following a 34-17 loss to 3-4 Southern Arkansas in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado last Saturday. Tech took a 14-0 lead, but the Muleriders then ran off 31 unanswered points.

College football: Week 7

Monday, October 11th, 2021

KJ Jefferson completed the nine-yard touchdown pass as time expired in Oxford, Razorback head coach Sam Pittman decided to go for two rather than going into overtime with a PAT, and you know the rest of the story.

Ole Miss 52, Arkansas 51.

Had the Razorbacks completed the two-point conversion pass, the final score would have been 53-52, the same score as the 2015 Henry Heave game.

Wild things happen in Oxford, don’t they?

I predicted Arkansas to win by one. So close yet so far.

Arkansas outgained Ole Miss 676-611. The combined 1,287 yards were the 10th most ever in a Southeastern Conference game. Arkansas’ 676 yards were the fourth most yards in school history and the school’s most ever in an SEC game.

Arkansas had 39 first downs, a school record. The previous high was 37 against TCU in 1980.

Arkansas’ 350 rushing yards were the most since 359 against Mississippi State in 2016.

And yet the Hogs lost. Still, Arkansas football is relevant on the national stage again, the Razorbacks remain ranked and a good bowl game remains a possibility. What a difference a year or two can make.

I was 6-3 on the picks last week, making the record 39-11 for the year.

Let’s get to this week’s games:

Arkansas 35, Auburn 34 — Why not just pick Arkansas by a point again in what figures to be a close game? Auburn is 4-2 overall — the same record as the Razorbacks — following a 34-10 loss to Georgia. The Bulldogs’ Stetson Bennett passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Auburn’s Bo Nix was 21 of 38 passing for 217 yards. Auburn’s four victories have come by scores of 60-10 over Akron, 62-0 over Alabama State, 34-24 over Georgia State and 24-19 over LSU. The win at Baton Rouge is the only one that can be classified as a “quality victory,” and that might even be called into question given that LSU is 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the SEC following last Saturday’s loss to Kentucky. The other Auburn loss came at Penn State by a final score of 28-20.

Eastern Kentucky 29, UCA 27 — With a record of 2-3, the Bears have had two weeks to prepare for this home game against a team that comes in on a three-game winning streak. Eastern Kentucky won its opener 31-28 over Western Carolina, lost back-to-back games to Louisville and Indiana State and has since posted victories of 35-27 over Austin Peay, 20-3 over Tarleton and 30-15 over Abilene Christian. The Bears beat Abilene Christian 42-21 on Oct. 2. These two teams appear evenly matched.

Southern University 25, UAPB 15 — The struggles continue for the Golden Lions. UAPB fell to 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the SWAC last Saturday with its fourth consecutive loss, 35-15 to Alabama State in a game played at Montgomery. There were two blocked field goal attempts, a lost fumble and an interception in a first half in which UAPB didn’t score. Southern is 2-3 with victories of 41-24 over Miles College and 38-25 over Mississippi Valley State. Its losses have come by scores of 55-3 to Troy, 31-24 to McNeese State and 35-31 to Texas Southern.

Henderson 31, Harding 28 — This is the biggest game to this point in the season in the Great American Conference. The Reddies are 6-0 and ranked ninth nationally in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II poll. Harding is 5-1 and ranked No. 20. Henderson cruised to a 59-24 victory last Saturday in Arkadelphia against an East Central Oklahoma team that had entered the game with a 4-1 record. Reddie quarterback Adam Morse passed for 357 yards and six touchdowns. L’liott Curry (who will play in the NFL; he’s that good) caught eight of those passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Henderson outgained East Central 559-399. Harding moved to 5-1 with a 49-10 victory over Southern Nazarene. The Bisons had 310 rushing yards. Harding led 14-0 after one quarter, 28-3 at the half and 42-10 after the third quarter. It should be a fun Saturday afternoon in Arkadelphia.

Ouachita 41, UAM 30 — Ouachita is ranked No. 11 nationally this week in NCAA Division II. The Tigers improved to 5-1 with a 30-10 win at Southwestern Oklahoma. Freshman Kendel Givens from Little Rock Christian had three rushing touchdowns, giving him 15 in just six games. Givens finished the game with 109 yards on 18 carries. T.J. Cole rushed for 193 yards on 28 carries for Ouachita. The Tigers finished with 345 rushing yards. UAM is off to a surprising 4-2 start following a 42-23 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma. Boll Weevil quarterback Demilon Brown completed 13 of 23 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another 66 yards.

Southern Arkansas 24, Arkansas Tech 22 — A couple of 2-4 teams will square off in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado on Saturday afternoon. Southern Arkansas started the season 2-0 but has since lost four consecutive games. The Muleriders fell 38-24 Saturday to 5-1 Southeastern Oklahoma. Southeastern outgained SAU 457-372. Mulerider quarterback Hayden Mallory was 17 of 32 passing for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Arkansas Tech has gone just the opposite direction, losing its first four games and then winning two. The Wonders Boys posted a 38-35 victory last Saturday over 3-3 Oklahoma Baptist. The winning score came with just 42 seconds left on the clock. Oklahoma Baptist had taken a 35-31 lead with 2:22 remaining. Tech quarterback Jack Lindsey was 31 of 43 passing for 382 yards and three touchdowns.

College football: Week 6

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

It was a September to remember for Razorback fans.

It’s starting out to be an October to forget.

No. 2 Georgia scored three first-quarter touchdowns and took the suspense out of the game early last Saturday en route to a 37-0 victory at Athens.

But I think most Arkansas fans would have taken 4-1 after five games had they been offered that record before the season.

It was a men vs. boys affair between the hedges. Arkansas just doesn’t have the athletes yet to compete with a team like Georgia. The Bulldogs outgained the Razorbacks 345-162 (with 273 of those yards coming on the ground) and had no turnovers.

Saturday’s game marked the first back-to-back shutouts of Southeastern Conference opponents by a Georgia team since the Bulldogs’ national championship squad of 1980.

Arkansas’ 87 passing yards were the fewest for a Razorback team since 2019. The Hogs had 13 penalties for 101 yards, the seventh most in school history.

Arkansas is back on its level this week with a chance to win at Ole Miss.

I was 7-3 on the picks last week, making the season record 33-8.

Here are the predictions for this week’s games:

Arkansas 30, Ole Miss 29 — Yes, I’m going to do it. I’m predicting that the Razorbacks will bounce back and come away with a victory in Oxford. Like Arkansas, Ole Miss was simply outclassed last Saturday. Alabama roared to a 28-0 halftime lead, put in the subs and wound up winning 42-21. Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for 171 yards and scored four touchdowns for the Tide. Bryce Young completed 21 of 27 passes for 241 yards. Nick Saban is now 24-0 against his former assistants. Admit it. Georgia and Alabama are just on a different level from other college football teams across the country.

Coastal Carolina 42, Arkansas State 21 — It doesn’t get any easier this week for the struggling Red Wolves. Nationally ranked Coastal Carolina comes to Jonesboro fresh off a 59-6 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. Grayson McCall was 13 of 13 passing for 212 yards. The Chanticleers are 5-0 for a second consecutive season and have won 16 of their past 17 games. McCall is the FBS leader in completion percentage. ASU, meanwhile, fell to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the Sun Belt Conference with a 59-33 loss to a Georgia Southern team (2-3, 1-1) that had just fired its head coach. Georgia Southern outgained the Red Wolves 503-91 on the ground with two running backs combining for 365 rushing yards. ASU has allowed more than 50 points in three of its five games.

UAPB 19, Alabama State 17 — On national television last Thursday night, UAPB fell to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the SWAC with a 27-17 loss at Prairie View. The Golden Lions have now lost three consecutive games and must go to Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday to take on Alabama State. Alabama State is 2-2 with wins of 14-13 over Miles and 38-24 over Bethune-Cookman to go along with losses of 62-0 to Auburn and 28-0 to Florida A&M. The teams appear to be evenly matched in this one from a talent standpoint.

Henderson 41, East Central Oklahoma 22 — There’s only one undefeated team remaining in the Great American Conference. It’s Henderson at 5-0. The Reddies went to Durant, Okla., last Saturday and knocked Southeastern Oklahoma from the ranks of the undefeated with a 27-24 victory. The winning points came on a Temo Martinez field goal with 9:25 remaining. Adam Morse was 22 of 27 passing for the Reddies for 195 yards and two touchdowns. East Central is a surprising 4-1, but its four victories have all come against teams with losing records.

Ouachita 35, Southwestern Oklahoma 25 — Ouachita had its 30-game GAC winning streak broken at Harding the final weekend in September. The Tigers bounced back Saturday with a 64-17 homecoming victory over Northwestern Oklahoma at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia. Three freshman running backs had two touchdowns each on the ground for the Tigers. A freshman quarterback also scored on a running play. And a freshman returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Tiger backs scored on runs of 72, 71, 42, 25, 11, eight and three yards as Ouachita improved to 4-1. This week’s opponent, Southwestern Oklahoma, fell to 0-5 with an 18-16 loss at UAM.

Harding 50, Southern Nazarene 11 — Harding went on the road and made it look easy with a 31-7 win against a talented Oklahoma Baptist squad. The 4-1 Bisons controlled the ball for 40 or more minutes for a third consecutive week with their option offense. Cole Chancey rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. This week’s opponent is Southern Nazarene, which fell to 0-5 with a 51-41 loss to Arkansas Tech.

Southeastern Oklahoma 31, Southern Arkansas 28 — The Muleriders played poorly in a 38-17 loss to East Central Oklahoma. SAU senior quarterback Hayden Mallory was 21 of 36 passing for 210 yards in the loss. SAU is 2-3 and must play far better this week to have a chance against 4-1 Southeastern Oklahoma.

UAM 33, Northwestern Oklahoma 26 — The Boll Weevils are off to a 3-2 start following their 18-16 victory at home last Saturday against Southwestern Oklahoma. UAM stopped a two-point conversion attempt with 6:49 remaining. UAM sophomore quarterback Demilon Brown passed for 150 yards and ran for 127 yards. The Weevils should move to 4-2 this week as they travel to 0-5 Northwestern Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Baptist 40, Arkansas Tech 27 — The 1-4 Wonder Boys picked up their first victory of the season with that 51-41 win at Southern Nazarene. Tech quarterback Jack Lindsey passed for 247 yards and three touchdowns.


College football: Week 5

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

The record was 5-2 on the picks for last week, bringing the season record to a very good 26-5.

Of those five missed predictions in the first four weeks of the college football season, two of them involved the Razorbacks.

Yes, I picked Arkansas to lose to Texas.

Yes, I picked Arkansas to lose to Texas A&M.

So, of course, I’m going to pick Arkansas to lose to Georgia.

Those of us who follow sports have all sorts of strange thoughts. I’m thinking there’s some kind of “reverse mojo” going on here, which means that as long as I pick against the Razorbacks they’ll continue winning.

It has been quite a September.

With victories over Rice, Texas and Texas A&M, perhaps we should just declare the Hogs the 2021 Southwest Conference champion and start making our Cotton Bowl plans.

The nine-game Arkansas losing streak to Texas A&M ended with that victory in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday as Arkansas moved to 4-0 for the first time since 2003. In the process, the Hogs snapped an 11-game Aggie winning streak dating back to last year.

The Razorbacks also ended an 11-game losing streak against Top 10 teams.

Let’s get to the picks for this week:

Georgia 34, Arkansas 31 — Prior to the victory over Texas A&M, the last time an Arkansas team had beaten a Top 10 opponent was in a 2015 game against LSU. It had been six long years. Last Saturday’s game was no fluke. The Razorbacks outgained the Aggies 443-272 and outrushed A&M 197-121. This is the first time for Arkansas to beat Texas and Texas A&M in the same season since 1986. No. 2 Georgia is also 4-0, having cruised to a 62-0 victory over 1-3 Vanderbilt. That was the 14th consecutive Southeastern Conference loss for Vanderbilt. Georgia outgained its opponent 524-77. The Bulldogs led 35-0 at the end of the first quarter. I’m now a believer in these Hogs. I think Arkansas plays well and keeps it close in Athens. Do the Razorbacks win? I’m not ruling anything out on the first Saturday in October following a September to remember.

Arkansas State 28, Georgia Southern 22 — Both teams are 1-3 coming into Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference game in Statesboro, Ga., but Georgia Southern is the program in more disarray. The school fired head coach Chad Lunsford, who took over midway through the 2017 season. Lunsford had guided Georgia Southern to three consecutive bowl appearances entering this season. The Eagles won their opener against Gardner-Webb from the FCS before falling to Florida Atlantic, Arkansas and Louisiana-Lafayette. Georgia Southern is the third FBS program to make a change early in the 2021 season, joining Connecticut and USC. ASU fell to 1-3 with a 41-34 loss last Saturday to a Tulsa team that came in with an 0-3 record. The Red Wolf defense gave up 633 yards. At one point, Tulsa scored on five consecutive possessions.

Prairie View A&M 19, UAPB 15 — For a second consecutive week, UAPB will play a Thursday night game on national television. In Pine Bluff last Thursday night, the Golden Lions dropped to 1-2 with a 39-38 loss to Alcorn State. UAPB had led that game 26-7 at the half. UAPB is on the road in Texas this week against a 3-1 Prairie View squad. Prairie View opened the season with a 40-17 victory over Texas Southern, lost 40-9 to Incarnate Word and has since posted victories of 37-27 over Houston Baptist and 24-10 over Grambling.

UCA 30, Abilene Christian 27 — The Bears fell to 1-3 last Saturday with a 45-35 loss in Conway to the defending FCS national champion from Sam Houston State. UCA was down 31-7 at one point in the second quarter. The Bears kept fighting, outscoring Sam Houston 14-0 in the third quarter. UCA quarterback Breylin Smith was 25 of 41 passing for 288 yards and four touchdowns. UCA must get off to a faster start in Texas this week against an Abilene Christian team that’s 3-1. After a 56-9 loss to SMU in the season opener, Abilene Christian has come back with victories of 62-7 over Louisiana College, 34-9 over Texas-Permian Basin and 56-0 over Lamar. Something tells me, however, that this is the game when the Bears finally put it all together.

Harding 32, Oklahoma Baptist 29 — Harding ended Ouachita’s 30-game conference winning streak (the Tigers had last lost a regular season game in 2017, and that loss also was to Harding) with a convincing 38-21 victory in Searcy. The Bisons ran their option offense to perfection, keeping the ball for more than 40 minutes. They had kept it for 42 minutes the previous week in a 37-6 win over Southern Arkansas. After Ouachita took a 7-0 lead on its first possession, Harding outgained the visitors 433-161 the rest of the way. A stiff test awaits this week in Shawnee, Okla., against 3-1 Oklahoma Baptist. The Bison from OKBU (yes, this is the Bison against the Bisons) dropped their opener 38-31 at Ouachita and have since won three consecutive games. This is the most talented of the six Oklahoma schools in the Great American Conference.

Ouachita 40, Northwestern Oklahoma 25 — Ouachita tries to return to the win column when the Tigers host 0-4 Northwestern Oklahoma at Cliff Harris Stadium for Saturday’s homecoming game. The Tiger defense has been suspect in three of Ouachita’s four games so far this season, so you can expect the visitors to score some points.

Henderson 42, Southeastern Oklahoma 39 — This is the game of the week in the GAC as the two remaining undefeated teams do battle in Durant, Okla. Southeastern stunned Harding in the second game of the season. Henderson, meanwhile, seems to get better each week. The Reddies trailed Southern Arkansas 28-0 in the first quarter at Arkadelphia last Saturday night before scoring the next 35 points en route to a 56-49 victory. Reddie quarterback Adam Morse was 21 of 37 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns.

Southwestern Oklahoma 26, UAM 24 — Southwestern is a better team than its 0-4 record indicates, and the Bulldogs are on the road this week against the 2-2 Boll Weevils of UAM. The Weevils are coming off a 27-20 victory over winless Arkansas Tech. UAM quarterback Demilon Brown was 16 of 27 passing for 161 yards and rushed for another 113 yards in Russellville.

Southern Arkansas 43, East Central Oklahoma 23 — East Central is off to a surprising 3-1 start but hasn’t played nearly as tough a schedule as the Muleriders. SAU’s two losses have come against Harding and Henderson, perhaps the two best teams in the conference. The Muleriders have already posted victories against two Oklahoma opponents — 32-13 over Northwestern and 42-27 over Southwestern. East Central lost 28-0 to Harding in the season opener. It has since posted victories of 13-10 over Arkansas Tech, 40-13 over Southern Nazarene and 20-17 over Northwestern Oklahoma. Those three schools have a combined 0-12 record.

Arkansas Tech 38, Southern Nazarene 21 — It’s 0-4 Arkansas Tech at 0-4 Southern Nazarene on Saturday afternoon. Something has to give. Look for the Wonder Boys to pick up their first victory of the season.

College football: Week 4

Monday, September 20th, 2021

An Arkansas Razorback football team is 3-0 for the first time since 2016.

A Razorback football team is ranked for the first time since 2016 (No. 16 in this week’s Associated Press poll).

A Razorback football team has gained more than 600 yards in a game for the first time since 2016.

Can it continue?

We’ll find out Saturday afternoon in Arlington, Texas, as the Hogs take on a Texas A&M team that has won 11 consecutive games. The contest will be nationally televised by CBS. It’s without a doubt the most high-profile game this week in the Southeastern Conference.

In the 45-10 victory over Georgia Southern last Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, the Hogs gained 633 yards of offense and allowed only 233. KJ Jefferson passed for 366 yards and three touchdowns.

There were three Arkansas scoring drives of more than 90 yards. The 633 yards of offense were the eighth most in the history of Razorback football.

We’ll know a lot more about this Arkansas team following the next few games — A&M this week, No. 2 Georgia the following week and Ole Miss the week after that.

The record on picks was a perfect 6-0 last week, making the season record 21-3. This week’s schedule presents some real challenges when it comes to prognostications.

Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 30 — Like Arkansas, Texas A&M is 3-0 for the first time since 2016. The Aggies beat New Mexico by a final score of 34-0 Saturday. A&M is No. 7 in this week’s AP poll. Tom VanHaaren writes for ESPN: “The Aggies stumbled against Colorado in their second game, down late in the fourth quarter, but eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown for the 10-7 win. The team bounced back convincingly against New Mexico. Texas A&M needed a strong win before taking on an Arkansas team that beat Texas 40-21 in Week 2. That game will start a tough stretch of conference games with Alabama two weeks later, so any bit of confidence will help. The Aggies are trying to push forward to another level, and these next few games will gauge where they currently stand.” The Razorbacks believe in themselves after thrashing Texas. Expect them to hang around until late in Saturday’s game.

Tulsa 28, Arkansas State 26 — It was an ugly night in Seattle as the Red Wolves fell 52-3 to a Washington team that came in 0-2. The Huskies had 598 yards of offense as ASU failed to score a touchdown. Red Wolf quarterback James Blackman was just 16 of 38 passing for 176 yards. Saturday’s game will match two teams that are struggling. ASU is 1-2. Tulsa is 0-3 following losses of 19-17 to UC-Davis, 28-23 to Oklahoma State and 41-20 to Ohio State. The slight edge goes to the home team.

Sam Houston 27, UCA 19 — Sam Houston won the spring version of the FCS national championship (UCA chose to play an abbreviated schedule in the fall of 2020) and is off to a 2-0 start this season with victories of 42-16 over Northern Arizona and 52-14 over Southeast Missouri. UCA is 1-2 following Saturday’s 45-23 victory over UAPB. UCA outgained the Golden Lions 456-308. The Bears jumped to a 21-0 lead and led 28-9 at halftime. It will be interesting to see if UCA can stay close to Sam Houston on Saturday afternoon in Conway.

Alcorn 14, UAPB 12 — The Golden Lions started the season with a victory over Lane, had an open date and then fell in Conway on Saturday. SWAC play begins this week against a talented Alcorn team that lost its opener 23-14 to North Carolina Central in a nationally televised game, beat Northwestern State of Louisiana 13-10 and then fell 28-21 at South Alabama on Saturday. This is a Thursday night game in Pine Bluff.

Ouachita 18, Harding 17 — This is usually one of the games of the year in NCAA Division II, a contest that almost always comes down to the final minute of play. Ouachita hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2017 when it dropped its homecoming contest to Harding. The Tigers won their 30th consecutive GAC game last Saturday with a 38-24 victory over winless Arkansas Tech. T.J. Cole had 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Tigers. Kendel Givens, a freshman from Little Rock Christian, had 90 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Givens now has nine rushing touchdowns in just three games as a college athlete. Harding, meanwhile, bounced back from its shocking loss a week earlier at Southeastern Oklahoma to destroy Southern Arkansas in Magnolia by a score of 37-6. The Bisons’ run-oriented offense held the ball for 14:08 of the first quarter and jumped to a 17-0 lead. Harding finished with 442 yards rushing on 73 carries and kept the ball for 42:03 of the game’s 60 minutes. Saturday’s battle in Searcy should be a fun game but also a fast game since neither team likes to throw the football. Ouachita is ranked No. 8 nationally this week in the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division II poll, and Harding is receiving votes.

Henderson 33, Southern Arkansas 21 — The 3-0 Reddies are up to No. 18 nationally in the AFCA poll. Henderson appears to be getting stronger each week. The Reddies went to Monticello last Saturday and beat UAM by 40 points, 58-18. Reddie quarterback Adam Morse was 26 of 31 passing for 398 yards and four touchdowns. The Reddies outgained the Boll Weevils 607-354. SAU, which won its first two games before being humbled by Harding, should present more of a challenge for Henderson than UAM.

UAM 29, Arkansas Tech 25 — This is a game that could go either way between two teams that are off to slow starts. UAM is 1-2, and Tech is 0-3. Flip a coin.



College football: Week 3

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

I spoke to a group of visitors from Texas last Friday night and tried to explain why the Arkansas-Texas rivalry is so much more important to us than it is to them.

I talked about all of those decades of being the only non-Texas school in the Southwest Conference and how that made us feel that we didn’t really belong.

I spoke about the psychological scars that those of us of a certain age still carry from the 15-14 loss in the Big Shootout of 1969.

I explained how Frank Broyles came along at just the right time in the late 1950s. Arkansas, after all, had lost a higher percentage of its population than any other state since 1940 and now carried the fresh wounds of the national ridicule heaped on the state in the wake of the 1957 Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis. Within a few years, Broyles gave us something to be proud of.

The three top programs in major college football during the decade of the 1960s were Alabama, Texas and Arkansas. Being in that group helped overcome the infamous Arkansas inferiority complex.

Finally, I put it this way: “You’re Russia. We’re Ukraine.”

On Saturday night, with a national ESPN audience looking on, Ukraine won the war.

Arkansas has, in fact, now won five of the past seven games between these two schools. To quote Coach B once more, it was “borderline erotic.”

Yes, I picked Texas last week. These past few years of failure have conditioned me to always expect the worst. But this team might just be something special. Sure, it’s early. There’s still much to learn.

I went 7-2 on the week (the only other miss was Southeastern Oklahoma’s stunning upset of nationally ranked Harding) to make the record 15-3 for the season.

Let’s get to the picks for this week:

Arkansas 49, Georgia Southern 20 — There’s just one way to say it. Saturday night’s performance was impressive. The Hogs led 16-0 at the half and never looked back. Only two other times had an Arkansas team scored more than 40 points against Texas. And no one had held a Longhorn squad scoreless in the first half since 2015. KJ Jefferson completed 73.7 percent of his passes, and the Razorbacks had three running backs with 65 or more yards in a game for the first time since 2007. Arkansas outgained Texas 471-256 as four Hog tailbacks scored touchdowns. Saturday afternoon’s game against Georgia Southern should be one of those contests in which Arkansas gets everyone into the game. Georgia Southern, which played in bowl games the previous three seasons, needed a defensive stop at its 29 late in the game to hold off an FCS school, Gardner-Webb. The Eagles then lost 28-6 to Florida Atlantic.

Washington 30, Arkansas State 29 — In a shootout at Jonesboro last Saturday night, ASU fell just short, losing 55-50 to Memphis. There were almost 1,300 yards of offense, evenly divided between the two teams. The Red Wolves struggled mightily in the secondary as a freshman quarterback for Memphis completed 22 of 33 passes for 417 yards. Arkansas State mounted a furious comeback late in the fourth quarter with scores at 5:01 and 1:52. ASU has a chance at Washington this week. The Huskies have scored just two offensive touchdowns and are 112th among FBS schools in total offense, averaging 317 yards per game. Of course, the Red Wolves rank 126th out of 130 teams on defense. Washington is 0-2 following losses of 13-7 to Montana and 31-10 to Michigan.

UCA 34, UAPB 24 — The Bears, who lost to ASU in the season opener, fell to 0-2 last Saturday night with a 43-34 loss to Bobby Petrino’s Missouri State squad in a game played at Springfield. There were 40 points scored in the fourth quarter as the lead changed hands four times. UCA outgained Missouri State 453-374 as Breylin Smith threw for 332 yards. UAPB, which won its opener against tiny Lane College on Sept. 4, had last week off. The two schools will square off for the first time since 2008 on Saturday night in Conway. UCA has won the past 10 games in this series and should be able to make it 11 in a row.

Ouachita 31, Arkansas Tech 21 — Ouachita extended its Great American Conference winning streak to 29 games (dating back to 2017) with a 41-3 victory at Southern Nazarene. The 2-0 Tigers are now ranked No. 9 nationally in NCAA Division II in the American Football Coaches Association poll. Ouachita outgained the Crimson Storm 388-35 and held its opponent to 1 of 13 on third down conversion attempts. The Tiger offense held the ball for 39:42. Arkansas Tech comes to Arkadelphia this Saturday night to battle the Tigers at Cliff Harris Stadium. The Wonder Boys fell to 0-2 with a 13-10 loss at East Central Oklahoma. East Central led 6-3 at halftime as both teams struggled on offense.

Henderson 41, UAM 25 — The Reddies moved into the AFCA Division II poll at No. 25 following a 55-7 home victory over Northwestern Oklahoma. The 2-0 Reddies scored 21 points in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter. Henderson quarterback Adam Morse was 19 of 32 passing for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Henderson is on the road this week against UAM and shouldn’t have much trouble with a 1-1 Boll Weevil team that lost 45-20 at Oklahoma Baptist, the best of the six Oklahoma teams in the GAC. Oklahoma Baptist led 35-0 at halftime.

Harding 33, Southern Arkansas 32 — This is the game of the week in the GAC. Southern Arkansas moved to 2-0 with a 42-27 victory over Southwestern Oklahoma, The Muleriders scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Hayden Mallory was 25 of 35 passing for 266 yards. In Durant, Okla., Southeastern scored with just 46 seconds left, went for two, converted and won by a final score of 32-31. Harding lost despite rushing for 336 yards. Harding and SAU are both talented teams. This one should be fun.


College football: Week 2

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

It’s Texas week.

For folks my age and older, that still means something. We grew up in Arkansas in an era when beating Texas in football was everything. We still have the emotional scars from the 1969 Big Shootout.

For younger folks, it doesn’t mean nearly as much, though it might again when Texas joins the Southeastern Conference.

Bret Bielema didn’t always understand this state and its people, but he hit the nail on the head when he described the 31-7 Razorback victory over Texas in the 2014 Texas Bowl as “borderline erotic.”

The series isn’t close. Texas leads 56-22.

But consider the fact that Arkansas has won four of the past six games between these two schools. It just means more here.

Texas cares more about beating Oklahoma at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. And it will care more about beating Texas A&M once those schools are reunited in the SEC.

Still, playing Texas brings back memories from my youth of the excitement that game created. Broyles vs. Royal. Good vs. evil in the minds of young Arkansans.

I was 8-1 on the picks last week, missing only on Arkansas Tech’s loss in Russellville to Southeastern Oklahoma.

Let’s see if we can run the table this week (something I seriously doubt will happen, by the way).

Texas 35, Arkansas 31 — These two programs aren’t to be confused with the Royal and Broyles programs. Both have struggled in recent years (though Arkansas has struggled far more) and have relatively new coaches. Arkansas found itself down by 10 points to Rice in the opener before righting the ship for a 38-17 victory. KJ Jefferson was 12 of 21 passing for 128 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also had 89 rushing yards. The Razorback defense allowed Rice just 81 rushing yards, but the Owls had success through the air. Rice has now lost 12 consecutive games against SEC teams. Texas, meanwhile, posted a 38-18 victory in Austin over Louisiana-Lafayette, which came in ranked No. 23. Hudson Card threw two touchdown passes in his first career start. Card is a second-year freshman who won the starting job over fourth-year player Casey Thompson. Card was 14 of 21 passing for 224 yards and no interceptions. Arkansas will be helped by a loud home crowd Saturday, but Texas has more talent.

Memphis 28, Arkansas State 25 — ASU trailed UCA 7-6 at the half in Jonesboro on Saturday night, and the home crowd was restless. James Blackman had started the game at quarterback for the Red Wolves and struggled. Lane Hatcher from Little Rock came to the rescue. Hatcher completed all 12 of his pass attempts and threw four touchdown passes as ASU won by a final score of 40-21. This week’s ASU opponent, Memphis, posted a 42-17 victory over Nicholls State. This is a Memphis program that has won at least eight games in each of the past seven seasons. This will be the Tigers’ first trip to Jonesboro since 2012. Memphis should win, but it won’t be easy.

Missouri State 24, UCA 22 — The Bears from UCA must go on the road for a second consecutive week. The opponent this time is Bobby Petrino’s Missouri State squad, which was 5-4 in Petrino’s first season at Springfield. Missouri State gave Oklahoma State all it wanted Saturday before falling 23-16 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. The Cowboys had to defend plays in their end zone twice in the final three minutes before securing the win. The Missouri State defense held OSU to just three points in the second half. UCA and Missouri State are two quality FCS squads. It should be a highly entertaining game.

Henderson 37, Northwestern Oklahoma 21 — The Reddies went on the road last Thursday night and defeated Southwestern Oklahoma by 18 points, 31-13, as quarterback Adam Morse was 17 of 26 passing for 183 yards. The coaches’ preseason poll had Henderson picked third in the Great American Conference, and the Reddies certainly will contend for a title again. Northwestern fell 32-13 to Southern Arkansas in the opener. Northwestern was picked ninth out of 12 teams in the preseason poll.

Ouachita 40, Southern Nazarene 26 — The Tigers, winners of the past three GAC championships, extended their conference winning streak to 28 games, but they had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to do it. Ouachita scored the final 14 points in a 38-31 victory over a talented Oklahoma Baptist team that was 7-4 in 2019 (no GAC games were played in 2020). The Bison could win even more games this year. They appear to be the best of the six Oklahoma teams in the conference. Ouachita’s new quarterback, Grant Allen of Springdale, struggled at times, but T.J. Cole took over on the ground with 151 yards rushing. Nazarene, picked 12th in the preseason poll, is 0-1 following a 30-23 loss to UAM.

Oklahoma Baptist 38, UAM 20 — Demilon Brown completed 19 of 32 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns for the Boll Weevils in their victory at Monticello over Southern Nazarene. The task will be much more difficult Saturday night as the Boll Weevils travel to Oklahoma to take on the aforementioned Bison of Oklahoma Baptist.

East Central Oklahoma 23, Arkansas Tech 19 — The Wonder Boys were the only one of the six Arkansas schools in the GAC to lose to an Oklahoma school last week. Tech fell 43-20 last Thursday night to Southeastern Oklahoma. East Central lost to Harding in Searcy on Saturday. Senior Jack Lindsey, the transfer from Arkansas, completed 15 of 34 passes for 137 yards for Tech in the opener. This should be a close game between two teams attempting to find their way.

Harding 30, Southeastern Oklahoma 11 — Harding shut out East Central 28-0 as Cole Chancey rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Chancey became the GAC’s leading rusher. His 3,775 yards surpassed Ouachita’s Kris Oliver, who ran for 3,763 yards from 2015-18. Harding was picked second in the preseason poll and will yet again contend for a conference crown. In the 2019 regular season, Ouachita was 11-0, Harding was 10-1 and Henderson was 9-2.

Southern Arkansas 33, Southwestern Oklahoma 18 — The Muleriders opened the season on the road with that 32-13 win over Northwestern Oklahoma as Hayden Mallory threw three touchdown passes. Look for the Muleriders to roll in Magnolia as Mallory continues to gain confidence.

College football: Week 1

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

With only three of the college football programs in the state playing last fall, we didn’t bother with predictions.

The pandemic isn’t whipped yet, but all four NCAA Division I programs and all six NCAA Division II programs are back in action, starting this week. Thus the weekly predictions are back for all 10 of those teams.

There’s just not enough time unfortunately to properly educate ourselves on the NCAA Division III and NAIA ranks, so we won’t include those schools.

Most Arkansans will have their eyes on Fayetteville and the Razorback opener against Rice. The Owls, a conference opponent for decades in the Southwest Conference era, now reside in Conference USA and were 2-3 in last fall’s shortened season. Mike Bloomgren has a record of 7-23 in three seasons at the school.

Marques Tuiasosopo has instituted a version of the West Coast offense in his first year as offensive coordinator at Rice. Arkansas has superior talent and should pull away in the second half on a hot afternoon at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Arkansas State’s Saturday night game against UCA in Jonesboro could be interesting. UAPB also opens at home on Saturday night.

Five of the state’s six teams in the Great American Conference (where all 11 games are conference affairs) open Thursday night. Harding, meanwhile, opens at home on Saturday evening.

Let’s get to the picks:

Arkansas 42, Rice 20 — The Razorbacks were 3-7 last year, and that’s considered improvement in this dark era of Arkansas football. Coach Sam Pittman is feeling optimistic in his second year at the helm. He says: “I love the team. I think they’re hungry. We’re a chip-on-the-shoulder, tough, proud, team.” The players have indeed been engaged during preseason practices. But the sobering stat is that Arkansas has twice as many last-place finishes in the SEC West (six) as it does top three finishes during the past 14 years. Rice might hang around for a half, but the talent deficit will show in the second half as the heat takes its toll on the Owls.

Arkansas State 38, UCA 23 — The Butch Jones era begins in Jonesboro with more than 50 newcomers on the roster. Quarterback Logan Bonner followed former head coach Blake Anderson to Utah State, leaving Little Rock’s Layne Hatcher as the lone experienced quarterback in camp. Jones, a former SEC head man, is 84-54 in 11 years as a head coach at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Tennessee. He spent the past three seasons on the Alabama staff. Much like Rice in Fayetteville, expect the FCS Bears to hang around for at least a half before the Red Wolves’ superior depth allows them to pull away at the end.

UAPB 39, Lane 15 — In a shortened spring schedule, the Golden Lions won the SWAC West Division title. Doc Gamble appears to be the right man at the right time in Pine Bluff. The Golden Lions return 19 starters, including junior quarterback Skyler Perry, who passed for 1,236 yards and 13 touchdowns in the spring. He also rushed for 215 yards in just five games as the Golden Lions went 4-1. Tiny Lane shouldn’t provide much of a problem. The second game (at UCA on Sept. 18) will be the real measuring stick to see how far this UAPB program has come.

Ouachita 31, Oklahoma Baptist 19 — Division II schools haven’t played since 2019 so there are a lot of unknowns at all 12 (six in Arkansas and six in Oklahoma) GAC schools. Ouachita has won the past three GAC titles and enters the season with a 27-game conference winning streak, one of the longest at any level of college football. The Tigers will get a strong challenge at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia on Thursday night from Oklahoma Baptist, which appears to be the most talented of the six Oklahoma teams. Oklahoma Baptist quarterback Preston Haire was the 2019 GAC offensive player of the year. He completed 255 of 402 passes for more than 3,000 yards.

Henderson 27, Southwestern Oklahoma 17 — The Reddies were 9-2 in 2019, losing by a total of four points to Ouachita and Harding. Henderson was picked third in the GAC coaches’ preseason poll behind Ouachita and Harding. Southwestern Oklahoma was picked 10th. Henderson must make the long trip to Weatherford, Okla., on Thursday, but that shouldn’t matter due to the Reddies’ depth and talent. The Bulldogs return only seven starters.

UAM 25, Southern Nazarene 22 — The UAM program has struggled for years, but the Boll Weevils managed to go 5-6 in 2019, including a 4-1 record at home. And they’re at home on Thursday night. UAM was picked seventh in the preseason poll and Southern Nazarene was picked last out of 12 teams. Nazarene has a new coach in Dustin Hada, and little is known about the Crimson Storm. The Boll Weevils return quarterback Demilon Brown and running back Devontae Dean from 2019. Brown was the GAC freshman of the year after leading the Boll Weevils in passing and rushing.

Southern Arkansas 33, Northwestern Oklahoma 30 — The Muleriders have a new head coach in Mike McCarty. He has eight starters and 28 lettermen back from a team that was 8-4 in 2019. The returners include quarterback Hayden Mallory, who passed for almost 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. Northwestern was 4-7 in 2019. The Rangers have 14 returning starters. The GAC preseason poll had the Muleriders fifth and the Rangers ninth. Thursday night’s game is at Northwestern.

Arkansas Tech 26, Southeastern Oklahoma 16 — The Wonder Boys were eighth in the preseason poll while Southeastern was next-to-last at 11th. The Savage Storm went 1-10 in 2019. Sixteen starters return from that team. Tech boasts a number of Division I transfers, including Arkansas transfer Jack Lindsey at quarterback. Running back Caleb Batie returns from 2019. He led the team in rushing with 620 yards and five touchdowns. There are six returning starters on defense. The game is in Russellville on Thursday night.

Harding 44, East Central Oklahoma 21 — Harding was second in the preseason poll and East Central was sixth. Harding went 10-2 in 2019, advancing to the NCAA Division II playoffs for a fourth consecutive year. The Bisons’ flexbone offense led Division II in rushing two years ago with an average of 373.6 yards per game. Eight starters return off that offense, including quarterback Preston Paden and running backs Cole Chancey and Taylor Bissell. The Bisons should have no trouble scoring points against East Central in Searcy on Saturday night.




College football: The final edition

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

This will be the final time we pick college football outcomes this season.

We went 5-1 last Saturday to improve our record to 76-22 for the season.

In a state obsessed by the Hog, there hasn’t been enough media attention devoted to the fact that this has been a very good season for most college programs in the state.

Arkansas State won its fourth consecutive game last Saturday, will likely beat South Alabama this week to finish the regular season 8-4 and will head to a bowl game for a ninth consecutive year.

UCA wrapped up a share of the Southland Conference title with a win over Incarnate Word last Friday night in San Antonio, finished the regular season 9-3 and is headed to the FCS playoffs.

UAPB had its first winning season since 2012. The 6-5 record in Cedric Thomas’ second year as head coach represented a marked improvement over last year’s 2-9 campaign.

Ouachita had an undefeated regular season for a second consecutive year, won its third consecutive Great American Conference title, made it to the NCAA Division II playoffs for a third consecutive year and finished 11-1.

Harding made it to the NCAA Division II playoffs for a fourth consecutive year and finished 10-2.

Henderson finished the regular season 9-2 and will play in a bowl game at Texarkana on Dec. 7.

Southern Arkansas finished the regular season 8-3 and will play in a bowl game in Corsicana, Texas, on Dec. 7.

Hendrix, the state’s only NCAA Division III program, finished 7-3.

Lyon, the state’s only NAIA program, also finished 7-3.

Here are the picks for this week’s games:

Missouri 29, Arkansas 27 — This is actually a winnable game for Arkansas as this worst of Razorback seasons comes to a merciful conclusion. Missouri is 5-6 overall and 2-5 in the Southeastern Conference with five consecutive losses. Those losses have been by scores of 21-14 to Vanderbilt (yes, Vanderbilt!), 29-7 to Kentucky, 27-0 to Georgia, 23-6 to Florida and 24-20 to Tennessee. Expect Arkansas’ players to compete hard for Barry Lunney Jr. And there will even be a decent crowd at War Memorial Stadium on Friday to show support for Lunney if it’s not raining hard. It’s time to get this season over with and focus on the coaching search.

Arkansas State 31, South Alabama 21 — It wasn’t easy, but the Red Wolves held on for a 38-33 victory over Georgia Southern last Saturday in Jonesboro. Things looked bad on that Thursday night in October when ASU fell to 3-4 following a 37-20 loss at home to Louisiana-Lafayette. But the Red Wolves have responded with wins over Texas State (38-14), Louisiana-Monroe (48-41), Coastal Carolina (28-27) and Georgia Southern. With former UCA head coach Steve Campbell at the helm, South Alabama has struggled to a 1-10 record. The lone victory was by a score of 37-14 over Jackson State from the SWAC way back on Sept. 7. The losses have been by scores of 35-21 to Nebraska, 42-6 to Memphis, 35-3 to Alabama-Birmingham, 30-17 to Louisiana-Monroe, 20-17 to Georgia Southern, 37-13 to Troy, 30-3 to Appalachian State, 30-28 to Texas State, 37-27 to Louisiana-Lafayette and 28-15 to Georgia State. Don’t expect many fans to be on hand for a Friday afternoon game in Mobile.