Razorback fans can take a week off from their agony, left to debate whether they should still declare “moral victories” in the midst of a 17-game Southeastern Conference losing streak.
The school record for consecutive conference losses is 20, set from 1940-43. So Arkansas must win one of its final three games — LSU, Ole Miss or Missouri — to keep from tying that record this season.
I was in the stands on that cold day last November when Mississippi State escaped War Memorial Stadium with an overtime victory over the Razorbacks. None of us could have guessed at the time that it would mark the start of what’s now an 11-game winning streak for the Bulldogs. That’s one of the many reasons I love college football. You can go from agony to ecstasy from one year to the next. Razorback followers should keep that in mind.
It helps to have a quality quarterback, of course. Even on only one good leg, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott was 18 of 27 passing for a career-high 331 yards against the Hogs.
Arkansas is now 4-17 against No. 1 teams with the most recent win over a No. 1 being that 50-48 triple-overtime victory against LSU at Baton Rouge seven years ago to end the HDN era. The Razorbacks have now lost 14 consecutive games to ranked teams with the most recent win over a ranked opponent being the victory over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7, 2012.
So here’s to the Hog faithful taking a break, enjoying the first day of deer season or even checking out one of the other teams in the state. Try it. You might like it. There are games Saturday at Jonesboro, Conway, Pine Bluff, El Dorado and Monticello, so there’s no excuse not to get out and enjoy a college football game.
We were 6-2 on the picks last week, making the record 67-8 for the season.
Let’s get to the predictions for Week 11:
Arkansas State 30, South Alabama 28 — Two 5-3 teams square off at Jonesboro on Saturday afternoon. Arkansas State improved to 3-1 in the Sun Belt Conference last week with a 44-28 victory at Idaho. It was the third consecutive road game for the Red Wolves, who were sluggish in the first half. ASU now has three of its final four games at home. Michael Gordon had a Sun Belt record five touchdown runs last week as ASU scored 35 points off Idaho turnovers. The Red Wolves led only 30-28 going into the fourth quarter. They’ll have to play better this week. South Alabama’s victories have come against Kent State, Idaho, Appalachian State, Georgia State and Troy. The losses have been to No. 1 Mississippi State, Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette. We’ll give the inconsistent Red Wolves a slight edge since they’re playing at home.
UCA 27, Lamar 21 — Speaking of inconsistent, it’s hard to know which UCA team is going to show up from week to week. The Bad News Bears showed up in Plano, Texas, last Saturday as UCA fell to 5-5 overall and 4-2 in the Southland Conference with a 52-35 loss to Abilene Christian. The Bears had seven turnovers, and Abilene Christian scored 31 points off those turnovers. Abilene Christian did it despite its starting quarterback not playing. This is a pretty good Lamar team that comes to Conway on Saturday. Lamar has posted six wins. They’ve come against Grambling, Texas College, Mississippi College, Abilene Christian, Nicholls and Houston Baptist. Granted, that’s a weak slate of teams. The losses have been to Texas A&M, Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana. Once more, the advantage goes to the home team.
Prairie View A&M 19, UAPB 17 — It’s homecoming at Pine Bluff on Saturday afternoon, which means the biggest crowd of the season. This is a battle of two 3-5 teams. UAPB won its second consecutive game last Saturday, 24-14, against Mississippi Valley State to go to 2-4 in the SWAC. The Golden Lions took a 17-0 lead at halftime and then hung on. Prairie View started the season 0-4 with losses to Texas Southern, McNeese State, Southern University and Grambling. Prairie View then won games against Jackson State, Alabama State and Mississippi Valley State before falling to Alcorn State. UAPB was hit hard by NCAA sanctions this week, and Prairie View has had two weeks to prepare for this game.
Ouachita 39, UAM 29 — Ouachita goes to Monticello on Saturday afternoon with a chance to wrap up at least a share of its second Great American Conference championship in four years. The Tigers also have an opportunity to go to 9-0 for the first time in school history. Ouachita improved to 8-0 for the first time since 1914 last week with a 38-28 win over a decent Southern Arkansas team in Arkadelphia. The Tigers trailed 21-17 after three quarters but scored 21 consecutive points to start the fourth quarter and put the game away. SAU quarterback Si Blackshire passed for more than 400 yards against Ouachita. The Tiger secondary has been suspect this season so you should expect the 2-6 Boll Weevils, under the guidance of quarterback Hunter Leppert, to score plenty of points.
Henderson 47, Southern Arkansas 31 — The Reddies and Muleriders square off in the Boomtown Classic at El Dorado on Saturday afternoon. SAU is 4-4 with all of its wins coming at home and the four losses coming on the road. It will be interesting to see how the Muleriders compete at a neutral location. Between Blackshire and Henderson’s Kevin Rodgers, there should be plenty of yards gained and points scored. The Reddies bounced back from their loss to Harding to beat UAM, 49-7, last Saturday at Arkadelphia. Rodgers was 28 of 36 passing for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Henderson is 7-1 and needs to win its final two games to secure at least a share of the GAC title and a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Harding 45, East Central Oklahoma 25 — Just looking at the records, you would expect 6-2 East Central to give 7-1 Harding a close game. But except for Ouachita’s last-second heroics on Oct. 18 at Searcy, no one has been able to handle the Bisons this year. Harding cruised to a 51-6 victory over Southeastern Oklahoma a week ago with 467 yards on the ground. Six Bisons had rushing touchdowns in that game. Harding looks well on its way to a 9-1 regular season.
Southeastern Oklahoma 13, Arkansas Tech 10 — It has been a frustrating season for the 3-6 Wonder Boys, who have a good defense but no offense to speak of. Tech lost 15-0 last week in Russellville to East Central Oklahoma. The Wonder Boys had just 47 yards rushing and 114 yards passing in that game. Southeastern has a record of 5-4 and typically plays well at home in Durant.