It’s my favorite week of the year.
It’s time for the Battle of the Ravine. That just happens to be the greatest small college rivalry in the country, and it’s right here in Arkansas.
ESPN’s “College GameDay” really should pay a visit to Arkadelphia one of these years.
And attending a Battle of the Ravine should be on every Arkansan’s bucket list. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cliff Harris Stadium.
There’s much on the line this year.
Ouachita is tied for the Great American Conference lead with Arkansas Tech and is seeking its third GAC title in seven years.
Henderson, meanwhile, has the nation’s longest road winning streak at 31 games. Yes, it’s a road game even though the Reddies only have to walk across U.S. Highway 67.
We ran the table on the picks last week, going 7-0 to improve our season record to 64-17.
Here are the picks for Week 11:
Ouachita 39, Henderson 38 — This is usually a battle to remember, and the 2017 edition should be no different. Ouachita held onto its share of the GAC lead with an amazing finish in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado. The 8-2 Tigers beat 6-4 Southern Arkansas by a final score of 45-42 in a game in which the lead changed hands four times in the final four minutes. You read that correctly: Four times in the final four minutes. SAU scored on a 23-yard pass with 3:34 left to go up 35-31. Ouachita then scored on a 47-yard pass with 2:43 remaining to go ahead 38-35. SAU scored on a nine-yard pass with 58 seconds left to retake the lead at 42-38. Ouachita scored on a 13-yard pass with 33 seconds on the clock for a 45-42 lead. A long pass into the end zone by the Muleriders on the final play was broken up. SAU had 611 yards of offense, and Ouachita had 573. Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner set a school record with 533 yards passing in a losing cause. Henderson kept its road winning streak alive in Monticello. The Reddies came from behind to defeat UAM by a final score of 28-21 with two late touchdowns. Henderson is 6-4, and UAM is 5-5. The Reddies returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game and then took the lead for good with 5:51 remaining.
Harding 40, Arkansas Tech 30 — The Bisons have won seven consecutive games after starting the season 0-3. And they get better each week. If Harding can beat Tech in Russellville, and Henderson wins the Battle of the Ravine, Harding will share the title with Ouachita and Tech. Harding routed 2-8 East Central Oklahoma last Saturday by a final score of 44-13. The Bisons, who lead NCAA Division II in rushing, have scored 40 or more points in three consecutive games. Tech cruised to a 48-10 victory over a Southeastern Oklahoma team that started the season 6-0 and has now lost four consecutive games. Wonder Boy senior Braden Stringer had 230 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Tech rushed for 390 yards as a team and had 535 yards of total offense.
Southern Arkansas 29, UAM 24 — Both teams are coming off losses. It has been a disappointing season for SAU, which was picked to win the conference in the coaches’ preseason poll. On the other hand, the 5-5 Boll Weevils from UAM have been better than expected. SAU’s Renner and UAM’s Cole Sears are both quality quarterbacks. This should be a close game with the slight advantage going to the home team.
LSU 37, Arkansas 25 — About the only thing one can say about the game last Saturday in Razorback Stadium is that it was a win. Remember what Houston Dale Nutt used to say: “All wins are precious.” The Razorbacks are 4-5 following the 39-38 decision over Coastal Carolina, a team that came into Fayetteville with a 1-7 record after having lost seven consecutive games. The Chanticleers led 38-25 in the fourth quarter, and we were all thinking Citadel until Arkansas scored the winning touchdown with 1:55 left. Coastal Carolina had gained just 183 yards against Texas State the previous week but had 359 yards against Arkansas. In previous games against Southeastern Conference teams, Coastal Carolina had lost by 59 points at Georgia and 60 points at South Carolina. Arkansas State beat Coastal Carolina by 34 points earlier this season. This might not be rock bottom for the Razorback football program, but you can see it from here. LSU lost to Alabama, but it was just by 14 points — 24-10, a closer game than most people had expected. The Tigers are 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference. The other two losses came by scores of 37-7 to Mississippi State and 24-21 to Troy. The wins have been by scores of 27-0 over BYU, 45-10 over Chattanooga, 35-26 over Syracuse, 17-16 over Florida, 27-23 over Auburn and 40-24 over Ole Miss. This is not a great LSU team, but it appears to be a lot better than Arkansas.
Arkansas State 41, South Alabama 23 — Having had two weeks to prepare, the Red Wolves should roll to victory over a 3-6 South Alabama team late Saturday afternoon in Mobile. The three victories for South Alabama have been by scores of 45-0 over Alabama A&M, 19-8 over Troy and 33-23 over Louisiana-Monroe. The losses have been by scores of 47-27 to Ole Miss, 44-7 to Oklahoma State, 29-23 to Idaho, 34-16 to Louisiana Tech, 21-13 to Georgia State and 19-14 to Louisiana-Lafayette.
UCA 46, Incarnate Word 16 — The Bears are up to No. 3 in the country in FCS and should have no problem on the road in San Antonio on Saturday night against a 1-8 Incarnate Word team. UCA improved to 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the Southland Conference with a 42-14 victory at Lamar last Saturday. The Bears ran off 35 unanswered points beginning in the second quarter. UCA had 565 yards of offense and held Lamar to just 279 yards. Lamar (1-8, 0-7) had only 26 yards rushing. Two regular-season games remain for UCA, and those two teams are a combined 3-15. In other words, the Bears appear headed for an undefeated regular season and the outright Southland Conference title. Incarnate Word’s lone victory was by a score of 33-24 over Lamar. The losses have come by scores of 66-0 to Fresno State, 56-22 to Sacramento State, 37-31 to Stephen F. Austin, 45-20 to Abilene Christian, 49-30 to Southeastern Louisiana, 55-7 to McNeese, 38-31 to Nicholls and 57-20 to Sam Houston State.
Prairie View A&M 18, UAPB 10 — A year ago, UAPB lost 70-0 to Grambling State. There was much improvement this year, but it was still a loss — 31-26 in Pine Bluff to drop the Golden Lions to 2-7 overall and 1-4 in the SWAC. UAPB has now lost five consecutive games. The Golden Lions travel to Texas this week take on a 3-5 Prairie View A&M team. The three Prairie View victories have been by scores of 34-0 over Alabama State, 38-9 over Jackson State and 34-17 over Bacone. The five losses have been by scores of 44-31 to Sam Houston State, 44-13 to Nicholls, 34-21 to Grambling, 34-21 to Alcorn State and 37-31 to Southern University.