And so it ends — the worst University of Arkansas football season in my lifetime.
My memories only go back to when Frank Broyles was the head coach and Arkansas was one of the three winningest programs in the country (along with Texas and Alabama) for the decade of the 1960s. Those older than me will have to tell you whether it was worse than it is now back when Otis Douglas was coach (he went 9-21 from 1950-52).
Arkansas football has received national publicity this fall for all the wrong reasons — players running over each other in the backfield, falling for trick plays and even taking photos with an opposing team’s cheerleaders before games.
It has been beyond embarrassing for those who support the program. That said, we must give Chad Morris and his staff time to try to recruit themselves out of the mess left behind by Bret Bielema and his enabler, Jeff Long. The hole was far deeper than any of us realized.
The lack of effort, teamwork and will was never more on display than was the case last Saturday at Starkville as Arkansas fell by a final score of 52-6 to a mediocre Mississippi State team. Nick Fitzgerald led six consecutive touchdown drives against a Hog defense that didn’t seem to want to be on the field. Coming into the game, Fitzgerald had only thrown two touchdown passes in SEC play this season. He threw four against Arkansas.
Mississippi State outgained the Razorbacks 287-69 on the ground, 188-150 through the air and 475-219 overall.
Arkansas failed to score touchdowns against Auburn and Mississippi State this season. The last time an Arkansas team failed to score touchdowns in two or more games was 2001.
Mississippi State used to be the whipping boy of the SEC. Want to know how far the Arkansas program has fallen? Just consider this fact: Mississippi State has won six of the past seven games against Arkansas.
No wonder Chad Morris used the word “unacceptable” nine times in a five-minute period after the game.
This is indeed unacceptable.
At least we have Arkansas State, which is headed to a bowl game for an eighth consecutive year.
And we have Ouachita, which is among the top four NCAA Division II teams in the country according to the various polls.
The only college football game in the state this week will be in Arkadelphia as Ouachita hosts the University of Indianapolis on Saturday in the second round of the Division II playoffs. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Cliff Harris Stadium for the contest between the 11-0 Tigers and 10-1 UIndy.
Plan a road trip to Arkadelphia to see this game. It should be fun to watch.
We’re 72-24 for the season as we make picks for the final time in 2018.
Missouri 42, Arkansas 20 — Missouri improved its record to 7-4 overall and 3-4 in SEC play with a 50-17 win over Tennessee (5-6, 2-5) in Knoxville last Saturday. It was the second consecutive season for the game to end with that score. It had to be particularly sweet for Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, who was 15-21 as the Tennessee head coach from 2010-12. Don’t expect many people to be in attendance in Columbia on what looks to be a cold, rainy Friday afternoon. And don’t expect many folks to be watching on CBS. Arkansas went 3-9 in 2013, which was Bielema’s first year as head coach. If the Hogs lose Friday, it will be the first 10-loss season in school history. The last time an Arkansas team had only two wins in a season was in 1952 under the aforementioned Otis Douglas.
Arkansas State 45, Texas State 27 — If ASU can beat Texas State in San Marcos on Saturday afternoon (which I think will happen) and Louisiana-Monroe can beat Louisiana-Lafayette (that might not happen), the Red Wolves will have a spot in the first Sun Belt Conference championship game. ASU improved to 7-4 overall and 4-3 in conference play with a 31-17 victory in Jonesboro last Saturday afternoon over Louisiana-Monroe (6-5, 4-3). Justice Hansen completed his first seven passes of the game and finished 21 of 27 passing for 246 yards and three touchdowns. Texas State is 3-8 with victories of 36-20 over Texas Southern, 27-20 over New Mexico State and 40-31 over Georgia State. The losses have been by scores of 35-7 to Rutgers, 41-31 to South Alabama, 25-21 to Texas-San Antonio, 42-27 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 15-13 to Georgia Southern, 20-14 to Louisiana-Monroe, 38-7 to Appalachian State and 12-7 to Troy. The school has already fired its head coach.
Ouachita 28, Indianapolis 25 — It has been an amazing run for Ouachita. When the Tigers defeated Henderson 38-10 in the Battle of the Ravine on Nov. 10, it marked the 16th consecutive conference victory for Ouachita. Tiger teams are 44-10 in Great American Conference play since the start of the 2014 season and have won four of the first eight GAC crowns. The one thing Ouachita hasn’t done is win a playoff game, having lost close contests in 2014 and 2017. Nothing will come easily this Saturday for the 11-0 Tigers against a Greyhound team that’s 10-1 following a 38-27 victory over Fort Hays State in the opening round of the Division II playoffs. Ouachita received a bye in the first round as the top-rated team in the region.