We were 8-0 on the picks last week, a performance you shouldn’t come to expect on a weekly basis.
This is, in a sense, the real season opener for the Razorbacks following that glorified scrimmage last week at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Arkansas’ 49-7 victory over Florida A&M was about what one should have expected. TCU didn’t have a challenge either, rolling to a 65-0 victory over Jackson State from the SWAC.
Miami decided not to come to Jonesboro to take on Arkansas State. Thus the spotlight in the state after that game in Fayetteville falls on 1-0 Arkansas Tech at 1-0 Henderson and 0-1 Harding at 0-1 Southern Arkansas. The winner of the Tech-Henderson game has to be considered the early favorite in the Great American Conference. The GAC coaches picked Southern Arkansas No. 1 and Harding No. 2 in their preseason poll. The loser of the game at Magnolia on Saturday night likely will already be out of the running for a GAC title. It’s do or die time for those two teams in a league where all 11 games are conference games.
Here are the picks for Week 2:
TCU 37, Arkansas 34 — Arkansas leads the series 44-23-2, including last year’s 41-38 win in double overtime at Fort Worth. Prior to last season, the teams had not played since Arkansas left the Southwest Conference for the Southeastern Conference in 1992. From 1959-91, Arkansas won 30 of 33 games in this series. TCU last won at Fayetteville in 1984. Coach Gary Patterson has changed things at TCU. He doesn’t have two down seasons in a row, and last year was a down season. The Horned Frogs haven’t gone on the road to play an SEC team since 1997 when they lost at Vanderbilt. Freshman tailback Chase Hayden needs to have another good game for the Razorbacks. He had 120 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries against Florida A&M. Hayden was the first true freshman to rush for more than 100 yards for Arkansas in his first game since Alex Collins did it in 2013.
UCA 30, Murray State 26 — It was a long night for the Bears at Kansas State as they fell in their opener, 55-19. Kansas State led only 17-16 midway through the second quarter before running off 24 consecutive points. UCA trailed 38-16 at the half. While UCA was playing its “money game,” Murray State was picking on a Division II school in a 67-7 victory over a woeful Kentucky Wesleyan squad. The Racers were 4-7 overall and 4-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference last year year, finishing in a tie for fifth. They lost their star quarterback, K.D Humphries, to graduation. Even though it’s on the road, this should be a victory for the Bears.
Akron 46, UAPB 17 –The Zips are in their sixth season under Terry Bowden, the former Auburn head coach. They played their “money game” last week, losing 52-0 at Penn State. Akron returns 15 starters from last year’s team. UAPB, which was 1-10 a year ago, won its opener last Saturday in Pine Bluff against Morehouse, 23-10. The Golden Lions trailed 10-0 before scoring 17 points in the third quarter.
Henderson 29, Arkansas Tech 27 — It’s an early showdown in the GAC at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia on Saturday night. Harding went 11-0 during the regular season a year ago but lost its opener in Searcy to the Reddies, 28-20. It was the first home loss for Harding in almost two years. Henderson, which won three of the first five GAC titles, now has a 28-game road winning streak. So the good news for Tech may be the fact that Henderson is playing at home, where it lost big games to Harding and Ouachita a year ago. Tech scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to come from behind and shock Southern Arkansas, 28-21. Ty Reasnor threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Drew Wade with 9:46 left and then ran 10 yards for the winning score with 2:54 remaining. This should be a fun game between two talented teams.
Southern Arkansas 19, Harding 16 — Both teams are desperate for a victory even though we’re still in early September. Harding lost most of its starters off last year’s championship squad and has a new head coach. SAU, not used to being picked atop the conference, didn’t react well last week in Russellville when the pressure was on in the fourth quarter. We’ll give a slight edge to the home team in this one.
Ouachita 39, Southwestern Oklahoma 38 — Ouachita won its opener for an 11th consecutive season. The 31-28 victory came against a Northwestern Oklahoma squad that’s vastly improved from last year. Ouachita’s fifth-year senior quarterback, Austin Warford, was 14 of 21 passing for 200 yards and rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries. Kris Oliver, the Tigers’ starting tailback, left the game during the first drive with a sprained ankle. The Tigers will need him in Weatherford, Okla., this Saturday night. The Ouachita defense is suspect, meaning the Tigers probably will have to best opponents in high-scoring games this year to extend their streak of consecutive winning seasons to 10.
Northwestern Oklahoma 23, UAM 21 — As noted, Northwestern is much improved from the 4-7 team of a year ago. UAM had a chance to win at home with six seconds left Saturday, but a 32-yard field goal attempt was blocked and Southwestern Oklahoma left town with a 20-19 victory.