If only Arkansas’ game at Baton Rouge could have ended at halftime.
It’s those second halves that so often cause the problems in this season of discontent for Razorback fans.
In the end, the score of LSU 33, Arkansas 10 was about what most folks expected last Saturday. We’ve given up hope for Houston Nutt-style upsets in what surely is the final gasp of the Bielema era.
The loss to LSU marked the fifth time this season that Arkansas has lost by 20 or more points. This weekend could certainly make six.
LSU outgained the Hogs 425-318 as Derrius Guice rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Arkansas is now 3-11-1 in games played at Baton Rouge through the years. LSU leads the overall series 39-22-2. Austin Allen was 12 of 23 passing for 140 yards. With Cole Kelley having drunk himself out of the picture for this week, Allen will need to be even better for Arkansas to have a chance against Mississippi State in the first game of the post-Jeff Long era.
I figured I was on the verge of going 7-0 on my college picks as I drove back home to Little Rock following a glorious Battle of the Ravine afternoon in Arkadelphia. I had the radio tuned to the Arkansas State game. Even though the Red Wolves trailed South Alabama by a score of 24-19 in Mobile, they were just about to score. As quarterback Justice Hansen reached for the end zone, the ball was knocked away with 5:18 left in the game. Touchback. Hansen threw his fourth interception of the game on the final Red Wolf possession, and ASU lost its first Sun Belt Conference contest of the season.
We thus were 6-1 on the week to bring the season record to 70-18.
Here are the picks for this Saturday with all four of the Division I teams playing in the state and two of the Division II teams on the road for playoff appearances:
Mississippi State 34, Arkansas 25 — It’s another 11 a.m. kickoff. You get a lot of those when you’re bad. Arkansas (4-6, 1-5) needs to win its next two contests to qualify for a bowl game. And I’ve yet to find anyone who thinks that’s going to happen. Mississippi State gave Alabama all it could handle in Starkville on Saturday before falling 31-24. The Bulldogs are 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the Southeastern Conference. The other two losses were by scores of 31-3 to Georgia and 49-10 to Auburn. The seven victories have come by scores of 49-0 over Charleston Southern, 57-21 over Louisiana Tech, 37-7 over LSU, 35-10 over BYU, 45-7 over Kentucky, 35-14 over Texas A&M and 34-23 over Massachusetts.
Arkansas State 40, Texas State 20 — Look for the Red Wolves (5-3, 4-1) to bounce back this Saturday in Jonesboro against a Texas State team that’s just 2-8 overall and 1-5 in conference play. Hansen, who was 27 of 44 passing for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to South Alabama, should have a field day against the Bobcats. Texas State’s only two victories have been by scores of 20-11 over Houston Baptist and 27-7 over Coastal Carolina. The losses have come by scores of 37-3 to Colorado, 20-13 to Appalachian State, 44-14 to Texas-San Antonio, 45-10 to Wyoming, 45-27 to Louisiana-Monroe, 24-7 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 45-35 to New Mexico State and 33-30 to Georgia State.
UCA 36, Abilene Christian 16 — The Bears secured at least a share of the Southland Conference title last Saturday with a 56-10 victory over a 1-9 Incarnate Word squad. UCA moved to 9-1 overall and 8-0 in conference play. The Bears can wrap up an outright title in Conway on Saturday with a win over an Abilene Christian team that comes to town with records of only 2-8 overall and 2-6 in the Southland Conference. The Bears outgained Incarnate Word 527-294. Expect similar numbers this Saturday. UCA quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was 20 of 30 passing for 226 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win. The only two Abilene Christian victories have been by scores of 24-3 over Houston Baptist and 45-20 over Incarnate Word. The losses were by scores of 38-14 to New Mexico, 38-10 to Colorado State, 20-10 to Stephen F. Austin, 13-7 to McNeese State, 29-20 to Nicholls State, 56-21 to Southeastern Louisiana, 26-23 to Northwestern State of Louisiana and 44-35 to Sam Houston State.
UAPB 24, Texas Southern 23 — The Golden Lions play the second of two games at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium this Saturday. UAPB lost its sixth consecutive game last Saturday at Prairie View A&M by a final score of 35-12. UAPB is now 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the SWAC. Texas Southern comes to town with a 1-8 record. The only victory was by a score of 28-21 over Mississippi Valley State. The losses have been by scores of 29-7 to Florida A&M, 24-17 to Houston Baptist, 30-13 to Alabama A&M, 24-17 to Alcorn State, 48-3 to Kennesaw State, 23-16 to Alabama State, 50-24 to Grambling State and 33-7 to Southern University.
Harding 29, Indianapolis 27 — This is our upset special. Harding went 11-0 in the regular season last year and won its first two games in the 2016 NCAA Division II playoffs. The Bisons lost 18 starters off that team and began the 2017 season 0-3. Then came a remarkable turnaround that has seen Harding win its past eight games. Last Saturday, Harding went to Russellville to take on an 8-2 Arkansas Tech team that could have wrapped up a share of the Great American Conference title with a victory. The Bisons won by a final score of 24-17. This week’s playoff opponent, the University of Indianapolis, is undefeated. But it plays in a relatively weak conference and has not seen anything like Harding’s hard-to-stop double-slot offense. Harding is playing as well as any Division II team in the country right now. The UIndy victories have come by scores of 24-20 over Grand Valley State, 31-28 over Wayne State, 45-17 over Southwest Baptist, 45-38 over Hillsdale, 34-19 over Truman, 28-10 over McKendree, 55-0 over Quincy, 45-0 over Lincoln of Missouri, 42-3 over William Jewell, 43-34 over Missouri S&T and 42-27 over Notre Dame of Ohio.
Ferris State 41, Ouachita 33 — It was a memorable day for the Ouachita football program. As anyone associated with either Ouachita or Henderson can tell you, winning the Battle of the Ravine is about as big as it gets. Ouachita also won an outright GAC championship, earned a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs, moved into the Division II Top 25 and broke the nation’s longest college road winning streak (Henderson had won 31 consecutive road games). Junior Drew Harris of Benton scored all seven of the Tiger touchdowns in the 49-42 win over the Reddies. Ouachita is now 53-21 since the GAC began in 2011 and has three conference championships to go along with two trips to the playoffs. In fact, the GAC title has resided in Arkadelphia for six of the seven years (Henderson has three titles, and Harding has one). Ouachita must make the long trip to Michigan this week to take on a 9-1 Ferris State team that’s ranked 10th in the country. The lone loss came by a score of 20-3 to Ashland. The victories were by scores of 48-27 over Findlay, 42-10 over Northern Michigan, 59-17 over Wayne State, 13-3 over Tiffin, 49-17 over Saginaw Valley State, 28-27 over Grand Valley State, 24-14 over Northwood, 26-0 over Davenport and 49-7 over Michigan Tech.